artist: Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson
Horpma - II (radio edit)

Horpma is a pair of two pieces for 27 plucked and hammered string instruments, which together fuse into an imaginary 54 string instrument (one string for every bead of the rosary). Each string of this meta-instrument is tuned according to just intonation, with an emphasis on narrow––or smaller than normal––intervals.

A new rhythmic ideal is the foundation of this music. The rhythms are not conceived or communicated through a traditional grid structure. Instead, Guðmundur has created epistemic tools to work with rhythm that reflect traditional Icelandic prosody. This principle of rhythm does not fit neatly into standard notation. Instead, the performers follow highly specific instructions that flow across a computer screen. To be able to execute such a score in real-time, Gunnarsson sought out performers from various musical discourses, each of which has in the past proven to be highly capable of embracing new ways of performing such as improvisation veterans Charity Chan and Kanoko Nishi, and Múm guitarist Róbert Reynisson.

To quote the composer: “By intently focusing on small differences, both in rhythm and pitch, the ear gets tuned to a microscopic mode of listening. When things then open up, a new sense of variety is gained.”

The recordings were made over a period of time in CCM in Oakland, California and at the Swimming Pool in Iceland.

The full version of Horpma II is available on Guðmundur's brand new CD "Horpma", out now on Carrier Records.


Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson (b.1982) is from Reykjavik, Iceland. His recent music builds clear rhythms without a pulse or meter. In order for that to work he has been developing ways of making animated notation, to be read from computer screens.

He studied composition at Mills College with Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and John Bischoff and in Iceland with Atli Ingólfsson and numerous other Icelandic composers. He visited the Darmstädter ferienkurse in 2008 and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s courses in Kürten in 2004. He has also participated in masterclasses with Helmut Lachenmann, Tristan Murail, Pauline Oliveros and Clarence Barlow.

Guðmundur has written music for Ensemble Adapter, Defun, Njútón, Quartet Opabinia, Duo Harpverk, Shayna Dunkelmann and Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir. His music has been performed in festivals such as Time of Music (FI), Thingamajigs Festival (US), Reno Interdisciplinary Arts Festival (US), Dark Music Days (IS), Nordic Music Days (2009 and 2010), Ung Nordisk Musik and venues such as The Stone (US), Empty Bottle (US), Literaturhaus (DK), Wendel (DE) and Skånes konstforretning (SE). Guðmundur is a founding member of the S.L.Á.T.U.R. experimental composers collective in Iceland. In 2011 Guðmundur won the National Radio of Iceland Composition Prize for the 80th anniversary celebration of the institution.



you can download the track by clicking here


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