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Juliana Hodkinson

Born: 1971

Nationality: British

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Photo © Anka Bardeleben

Contextual music – Juliana Hodkinson

 In many ways, Juliana Hodkinson's music marks the beginning of a new departure for her generation in Danish music. Hodkinson's music deals with anything but absolute music; it is about the way we act, as listeners, musicians, and human beings. It is about the music's context. 

These contextual aspects may be manifested in other media, such as video, theatre or film, or they may be located more ambiguously within the music, where silence plays a central role for Hodkinson, who has written a PhD thesis on the subject. On the one hand, the silence is part of the music, while on the other hand it is a contradiction which sharpens the senses towards the sounds. For a period, much of her music took place in the narrow borderline area between the audible and the inaudible. 

While the music can be extremely sensitive and delicate, what the composer is seeking is not the sound itself, but rather the awakening of the senses that can arise in this field. For Hodkinson, the specific aural material is merely sound that "exemplifies" the idea – it is the musician's anxious concentration which is the point, not the perfect reproduction of a score's ideal. In the pieces entitled All that we cannot say (2001) and Why Linger You Trembling in Your Shell? (1999), for example, she uses matches and table-tennis balls as unpredictable elements which render impossible the practised perfectionism of the classical music tradition. The violinist has to follow the rhythm of the bouncing table tennis balls, while the oboist has to follow the lighting and burning out of the matches. What we hear is the aura of the attempt to make music. It is all about everything that happens between the ears …

Jens Voigt-Lund
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