States and Shapes

for five clarinets and two harps
composed 2019; duration 19 minutes
world premiere November 2 2019, Reykjavik, Iceland
CAPUT Ensemble, Gudni Franzson – conductor
commissioned by CAPUT Ensemble
commission supported by the Danish Arts Foundation
dedicated to Gudni Franzson

The composition treats the notion that musicality as our appreciation of a sound’s meaning has a biological as well as an evolutionary aspect. This implies an eternal manner of general listening on the one side, and a strictly contemporary manner of culturally bound music appreciation on the other. Such a timeless and self-standing, pre-instrumental sonic make-up is an absolute quality that does not depend on customs and personal aesthetics. In musical terms, it functions outside of personalised musical features as it takes on those wider features that are infinite, innate and unlearned.

To abridge these two fundamentally different listening modes, the instrumentation is set up as two self-similar groups of clarinets and harps that each have an internal micro-cosmos of voices. This constitutes two meta-instruments as the voices move in closely connected dynamics, registers and articulation. The instrumental anonymity in performance blurs the presence of each player, but gains in espressive richness. This meta-identity is complementary between the two groups, where the harps that have matching roles to add short-term and less critical sound features such as transients and spectral features etc. Performance discrepancies do happen, but are specified so that a common, overarching instrument-mass singularity always will prevails.

Musical form is set in four sections in terms of material, albeit in three sections in terms of instrumentation as the clarinets all double, employing a total of five different clarinet types that range from the Ab piccolo clarinet to the Bb contrabass clarinet. The composition was commissioned by the CAPUT Ensemble as part of a composer residency supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, and the composition is dedicated to Gudni Franzson.

List of Works


Sound art
Chamber music
Stage music
Chamber orchestra