Solkreds II, new version of sound installation at Dodekalitten

22 Sep 2020 - 00:00

Solkreds is a permanent, site-specific sound installation created for the monument Dodekalitten at Kragenæs on the Danish island of Lolland. When completed, sometime around the year 2025, the monument will consist of 12 megaliths carved out of solid granite by the Danish sculptor Thomas Kadziola. They stand on a hill overlooking the sea in a circle 40 meters in diameter, 7-9 meters tall, and weighing up to 50 tons each. There will be 12 permanent loudspeakers and two subwoofers hidden beneath granite sitting stones. For now there are 10 megaliths, 6 of which have been sculpted.

Solkreds is a work in progress conceived more as a system than a piece of music in the traditional sense. The first version of the work, Solkreds I, started playing on October 11th, 2018. The music is created as a continuous ongoing process by a computer program. In the first version the sound came from four speakers. In June, 2019 six new speakers and a subwoofer were installed beneath six new sitting stones.

Solkreds I alternates between an active state and a silent state. The music can be described as slowly evolving drones and harmonies that glide and intertwine with each other. Most often the music will be active for a period of 6-20 minutes and silent for a period of 2-5 minutes at a time, but the durations vary and are unpredictable. The sound consists of twelve electronic voices, three heard from each speaker. The twelve voices follow each their own independent progression, but they also relate to each other to create gradually changing harmonies. There are 26 different sections or ”moods” that change every few minutes and can be anything from relaxed to disturbing.

The new version of the piece entitled Solkreds II was commissioned by the Dodekalitten Foundation with financial support from The Danish Business Authority (Erhvervsstyrelsen) LAG-fund, KODA Culture and the Municipality of Lolland. Solkreds II includes some new types of rarely occurring musical events that complement the slowly evolving drone sounds. These new bell-like sounds are created using the same synthesis technique as the drone sounds: phase modulation. The bell-like events are dependent on the tide and are heard more often at high tide than at low tide. They occur at intervals of 20-80 minutes and last 2-5 minutes. The musical structure of these events is based on the harmony of the current section of the drone sounds and they are heard only when the drone sounds are active. The number of voices was increased from 12 to 24. And the number of sections was expanded from 26 to 52. A decision-making algorithm was created to allow each section to be followed by several different possible sections. The order is not fixed but not random either. The choice of the next section is made based on which sections are best suited to follow any given section using a mathematical process known as Markov chains.

The idea behind Solkreds was to create a gradually changing sonic backdrop to the monument Dodekalitten, an open work that can be interpreted and experienced in many different ways. Solkreds II starts playing daily at sunrise and stops at sundown. Tide levels in the local harbor influence the level of activity. The computer system uses data with sunrise times, sunset times and tide levels to control musical processes. In the summer, during the bright nights in Denmark, the work can be heard from very early in the morning to late in the evening. Dodekalitten never closes and admission is free. There is parking nearby for the disabled, but all other visitors should take the lovely 15-minute walk through the forest to find the monument.

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