Rob Bentall

Reimagining the Nyckelharpa – workshop I

So, as some of you may know, if you happen to be one of the many people who definitely look at my website, I was recently awarded Arts Council England Funding for my creative project Reimagining The Nyckelharpa. During October, workshops were held with all of the composers within the project, outlining the capabilities and range of the instrument. Due to the difficulty of bringing all the composers together on one day, the first workshop was split into two parts.

Brona Martin, Tom Owen and myself conducted workshop 1 on 14th October 2019 in Sheffield. Brona brought DPA clip-on mics which were dangled into the instrument. We recorded a number of slow and fast bowed materials, capturing the detailed resonances that resulted from having the microphones danged inside the instrument.

Tom wanted to hear the instrument’s trilling capacity, and we experimented with trills in various registers across the instrument. We also experimented with a scordatura bottom C string de-tuned to B-flat, which I had been using extensively during my recent live performance projects.

On 31st October 2019, the second installment of workshop 1 was undertaken, with Ben Gaunt, Laura Bowler and Tom Owen all in attendance. This workshop took place at Leeds College of Music. Ben brought with him the score for Freezing Spellsphere, which was virtually complete upon arrival (Ben had worked on this piece over summer which kicked me into action with regard to writing to ACE) and I demonstrated some of the bridge-movement techniques involved in this composition.

Laura was interested in the gutteral qualities produced by the instrument, and we explored how loudly it could be played for extended periods of time.

Recordings were made of all of the above.


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