Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard is an award-winning Danish sound artist, known for his instrumental experimentation and improvisation technique. His approach to sound art and musical theory is aimed at dismantling tradition and norms in order to deliver unique and unexpected soundscapes. We spoke with Løkkegaard about his work with large ensembles of instruments and technologies and his creative approach to sound design.
Pleased describe your work in 1-2 sentences
I´m trying to create sound that will let the instruments transcend their inherent sonic norms and reappear as new, untouched sound. My method is multiplication of sound as a way to make the instruments transcend themselves. The sound of the individual instrument dissolves and reappears as untouched unheard sound. A landscape of sound open to everybody.
I often explain the SOUND X SOUND project and my method like this:
”Imagine entering a room with vivid acoustics, filled with people talking across the room. They are having separate conversations and close by you can identify the language and understand the words. Stepping away from the tables and standing in the doorway, you can no longer distinguish one word from another and the human language ceases to exist. All conversations melt together and transform into a new sound. A sound of people without words and languages but with an innate sound, as we hear a flock of squawking geese or the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves. When language is dissolved and words loose their meaning, sound remains – pure, free and open to all ears.”
What inspired you to compose SOUND X SOUND and pieces like “Music for 9 Pianos”?
The piano is an embodiment of western culture and social class-so it´s more than just an instrument. In the old days you had to learn to play the piano if you wanted to appear well-educated etc., and it that sense the piano also defines social hierarchies.
Creating this piece I was interested in how to short circuit this instrument and thereby also short circuiting our own culture, dismantling hierarchies -and force us to look at the piano with new eyes and listen with new ears.
I remembered all the rules surrounding the piano in my childhood. I always wanted to stroll the white keys -then the black keys, or just hammer away very loud-but I was always told not to do so.
So this piece is actually written upon the notion that a kid with no piano skills would be able to play it.
“Music for 9 Pianos” is (like all the other pieces in the SOUND X SOUND series) an attempt to make music that makes us listen in new ways, and there experiencing reality in new ways.
Are you interested in creating sound art for large audiences or more intimate settings?
Yes I´m interested in creating sound art for large audiences, but I´m also interested in creating sound art for large ensembles. These days I´m working a lot with the triangel which I think is interesting due to it´s sound (off course), but also the fact that everybody can play the triangle. With that in mind I´ve been writing pieces for 16 triangles (from the SOUND X SOUND series), for 40 triangles and in January 2017 I´m premiering a piece at Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland, for 70 triangle players. This ensemble will consist of all kinds of Icelandic people; musicians/non-musicians, kids, old people and so on. I like the including potential of music, and I think about how to make music more direct and how to democratize the act of playing music. You don´t have to be a musician to play music.
What is your favorite sound?
All sounds are my favorite sound.
Why do you make sound? In your mind, what can sound communicate?
I´m not trying to convey any predetermined feeling or narrative in my music. I´m not interested in telling the listener what he/she should experience while listening to my music. I´m interested in creating a state of potential- by that I mean, that I want to create music that can be listened to in many ways. One listener will feel joy, another sadness and that just fine, thats the ways it suppose to be.