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From the outside and inside 

Sounding Women's Work | »It's not a choice whether I want to relate to my gender and my body in my work – the outside world has decided that it is a theme,« says British-Danish Juliana Hodkinson, who does not have much of a romantic approach to composing and accepts the truth of the sketch.
  • Annonce


The lofty concepts in my professional environment are considered asexual as long as men are in focus - and gendered when we see a woman. From the beginning of my career, music journalists have described my appearance as a prologue to describe my artistic work. Since then, it has become a concrete thematization of female composers, which I thought was, at the beginning of my career,  both unnecessary and superfluous, but which I have later increasingly experienced had to be articulated. As a professional environment, the world of composition has no place for women without being exceptional, exotic and can be instrumentalized as an exception. It is similar to 50% of the world's population, but is professionalized as a minority.

I do not have much of a romantic approach to composing

In trying to sort through those experiences, and to overcome the negative in this relationship, I have sought out the positive in it. I have gone into the question of what my body and my gender can accomplish in sound, and it has been a source of explicit reflection and inspiration. I have composed for, with and about my children and my experiences with birth and motherhood. Toys, computer games and the sound of cars, robots, spaceships and airplanes have entered my instrumentarium. I have composed for pianist hands to nurse both Fisher Price and Webern as concrete external references at the same time. I have sampled my daughter's baby voice for an opera about mothers and daughters. My children's expressive exploration of sound and their discovery of music have, in their own way, guided my work.

Emotional yes, romantic no

I do not have much of a romantic approach to composing. Emotional yes, romantic no.

One grasps paper and learns to accept the truth of the sketch

Experiences such as breastfeeding through the composition and production of an orchestral work or an opera have left their mark on my work. I have never been offered to postpone an order due to maternity or family considerations, so I have pretty much composed in a straight line through all the life changes, and tried to share the cost of a reduced pace with my environment. Composing with a child on your lap and only one hand left over does something about one's relationship to many of the compositional tools - notation, hardware, software. You literally turn on only half of the buttons; one grasps paper and learns to accept the truth of the sketch. 

One seldom reaches the core of the system, but encounters his tools with a kind of hunger that must be satiated in a hurry. Constructions and thoughts that can not withstand the external and unforeseen are thrown overboard in droves; methods are smashed on the floor. When all compositional processes must be able to withstand being interrupted or completed in parallel with a parallel action that is associated with great intensity and emotions, one loses a lot of fetishistic attachments to certain ways of working. The complete devotion to everyday moments that from the outside seem completely unspectacular, is completely overwhelming from the inside and can only be shared through empathy and being down-to-earth – it has been a very important experience for me, and one that I have wanted to lift to a mantra in my work.

Music is a form of technology; it is the sum of bodily knowledge, behavior, experience, sensing, and tools

No bonus points

I have been through major external and internal conflicts in relation to a professional world that can rarely accommodate a composer who is trying to get family and work to go up in the best way. Of course, this applies to both men and women, but there are social statistics that tell us that it primarily applies to women. This sexist paradigm means that you are constantly under pressure from an imminent critique and skepticism that you are only accepted as a woman and composer if you find the right balance between being exceptional and assimilating into men's working conditions. At least there are no bonus points for being a mom. Both of my children have shared the physical pressure that arises when working conditions are not compatible with responsibility for anything else, and we have all three thrown up on it.

The unreasonableness of all this I have sometimes passed on unfiltered to collaborators, musicians and the audience – the experience that you have to find out a lot, that coherence is something you have to create for yourself and can not expect to be served from others that changes of meaning are at the forefront and that one cannot expect any consensus around the most important values.

Tools to shrink time

My approach to technologies is rooted in my interest in the sensory-motor in our relationship to almost everything. Music is a form of technology; it is the sum of bodily knowledge, behavior, experience, sensing, and tools. The flame, the voice, the piano, the microphone, the sound program are all cultural techniques that we learn to use to get something out of them - functional or expressive. 

When I first started working on recording and editing sound, I was primarily interested in tinkering with time conditions in relation to recognizable sounds (field recordings, studio recordings with objects, instruments and voice, or also the sound of a symphonic movement that shrinks to a few seconds ). Later, I went into the possibilities of mirroring or shadowing some of my more abstract acoustic-instrumental compositional interests (e.g., synthetic versus vocal vibrato, pitch-bending, and extremely elongated glissandi). And then there was also a phase where I resorted to electronic live formats as a 'fast format', where I could jump directly from the design phase (the creation of a sample-bank architecture within a portable electronic setup, as well as overall decisions regarding. form and possibly time-code) into a partly improvisational settlement in live performance. It was a response to extreme time pressure and lack of the necessary work framework for a composition process with sheet music and music samples; I had to short-circuit the composition phase. So it has been very helpful to have some tools to shrink the time.

My physical working conditions have been characterized by perpetual attempts to alternately achieve either a demarcation of the professional and personal spaces, or a complete fusion of them - depending on the current physical, social, economic and temporal framework for work and non-work, family , artistic practice and everything else. In the past, I have benefited immensely from residencies, and certain works and artistic developments would never have happened without the optimal framework that I experienced at residencies. Having children, it has only very rarely been possible to take away that way; however, a single residency in Istanbul with airline tickets and accommodation for the whole family and childcare on standby stands out as a shining exception.

English translation: Andreo Michaelo Mielczarek


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