Reminiscence – Ólafur Arnalds (sheet music)

Reminiscence – Ólafur Arnalds (sheet music)

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Ólafur Arnalds

Interview with Ólafur Arnalds (December 2022)

The music on his presenting album, Some Kind of Peace, conveys serenity and beauty in a world and time marked by turmoil; Do you believe in its healing effects?

You see how the public at first is expecting to hear some compositions that sound differently live from how they were conceived and how they are on the record, and then you see that this public really enjoys these different versions. Something is actually happening.

A fundamental element in his music is silence. Is it something especially necessary now?

Silence, indeed, is very important in my music, and it is something that is currently undervalued. Without silence there is no music. The space between the notes is what gives them meaning, in such a way that silence changes the meaning of the music.

He said that silence is undervalued nowadays…

It is very necessary, it is vital, because we live in a world where everything is very loud, and not just the sound. I mean that all our senses are constantly very busy, with computers, mobile phones, with social media, with the information that does not stop flowing. We need a “break” and I think this type of music can be important for it.

And how to get this music to the people?

It is a delicate subject and also complicated how to bring music to the masses. The simple way is what Spotify does with its playlists , for example, putting you in “music for a rainy day”, a very digestible way of approaching it. I am interested in somewhat deeper forms, perhaps more difficult, but more satisfying in the end. After all, you can’t silence people. No, it must be the people who come to your silence voluntarily, which means making it accessible and especially in the end that people want it, sit down and listen to it.

Opening up people’s tastes means changing their musical tastes, isn’t this the most difficult thing?

No, I am totally optimistic; I think there is a need and that people now feel that need for silence. And my job is to be there when people need it.

Along with this noise, there are other elements that increase it, such as political or climatic ones.

I don’t just believe in silent music, as I call it, but I believe in all kinds of music in general as an antidote to all of that. It doesn’t have to be my music, because music right now has a unique opportunity to bring together very different types of people in the same space from very different backgrounds, political options, social origins. And doing so I think generates empathy and that is what is needed now. It may sound trite, but music is very therapeutic right now.

Do you notice that your music is now better received by the public than when you started?

Yes absolutely. The world is much more open today due to many factors. When I started I needed a radio station for my music to play, for there to be people, like journalists, who believed and liked what I was doing in order to make myself known. And now, instead, listening to music is more democratic and accessible to everyone. But you also have to highlight how the world has changed in recent years, and it has made people more open to different musical genres, in the sense that it no longer matters what style of music you are playing, but what that music makes you feel. It is a fundamental change.

Continuing with your career, what do you think are the reasons for your success and for staying with it?

It’s a mix of hard work and a lot of luck too. In any case, I would make this music regardless of whether people listen to it or not. But we’ve worked hard, I don’t know, I’ve done more than 2,000 concerts in the last ten years. And we’ve also always been very interested in how do you get music to people, how do you make it accessible, I don’t know like YouTube video sessions and things like that that we do to get young people to discover it.

Has there been a purpose in your music since you started?

It has always been the same, but it took me a long time to realize it. At the beginning I thought that I had a mission to change this or that, to break down barriers, but to be honest the great truth is that it has been the search for creativity, enjoying the creativity process, discovering new things, experimenting with them. I am a very curious person, and curiosity is what always pushes me forward.

For someone who has never heard her, how would she define her music?

Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is that I am someone who drinks a lot from classical instrumentation and sounds but with a way of composing that is much more related to modern electronic music and modern studio producers.

Classical instrumentation… what do you think of your compatriot Björk, with her recent work and tour accompanied by a symphony orchestra?

I’ve seen her in one of her recent shows and she’s really wonderful. I love Björk with orchestra, and without a doubt it is the version that I like the most from her. I have always respected her for her eagerness to investigate.

Ólafur Arnalds – Woven Song (from the album “Some Kind of Peace”)

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