Solkreds III, Dodekalitten

View footage of the monument and listen to a short excerpt of Solkreds II

Sokreds (Sun Circle) is a permanent, site-specific sound installation created for the monument DodekalittenDenmark’s largest art work in progress. Dodekalith comes from Greek and means twelve stones, just as monolith refers to a single stone. When finished in the next five to ten years, the monument will consist of a stone circle 40 meters in diameter with 12 sculptures carved in solid granite, each 7-9 meters tall and weighing 30-50 metric tons. The monument is located on the Danish island of Lolland on a remote site overlooking the sea. The first sculptures were unveiled in 2012 and currently there are 11 stones, six completed sculptures and five uncarved raw granite slabs. It takes the Danish sculptor Thomas Kadziola about a year to complete a sculpture. A huge crane rig and oversized truck bring each uncarved stone to Thomas’ outdoor studio at his country home on the island of Lolland, where he works from a lift with a jackhammer day in and day out carving out the sculptures. Each stone has been specially extracted from stone quarries in Sweden and Norway.

From the beginning the monument was intended to be accompanied by music. In 2017 Wayne Siegel was commissioned to create a permanent sound installation for the monument with financial support from the Municipality of Lolland, The Danish Arts Foundation. Like the monument itself, the sound installation is a work in progress to be developed over the years. In October 2018 the first version called Solkreds I (Sun Circle I) began playing. In June 2019 a permanent sound system was installed, consisting of a 6.1 surround system inside the stone circle with six  loudspeakers and a subwoofer concealed within specially constructed granite sitting stones to protect them from the weather. A 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 was unveiled on September 22, 2020 at 3:30 PM local time: the exact time of the autumn equinox. In October 2021 the permanent sound system was completed, now with a 12.2 surround system consisting of twelve loudspeakers and two subwoofers concealed within twelve granite sitting stones inside the stone circle, one in front of each sculpture.

The music in Solkreds II is produced as a continuous ongoing process by a computer program that Wayne has created in the Max/MSP programming environment. The computer, amplifiers and other electronic equipment are all concealed in a specially constructed underground control room near the monument. The computer is online so that Wayne can control and update the system remotely from his laptop. Solkreds is not a piece of music in the traditional sense, but rather a compositional system that continually creates a musical composition based on rules or algorithms developed by the composer. There is no audio playback and there are no repeated loops, since all of the sounds are synthesized directly by the computer program using a technique known as phase modulation. There are no prerecorded sounds, only software that creates sounds and algorithms that create a musical composition.

Solkreds 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 7-20 minutes and silent for a period of 4-7 minutes at a time, but the durations vary and are unpredictable. The drone sounds consists of 24 electronic voices, two heard from each speaker. The 24 voices follow each their own independent progression, but they also relate to each other to create gradually changing harmonies. In addition there are some rarely occurring musical events that complement the slowly evolving drone sounds. These 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. There are 52 different sections or ”moods” that change every few minutes. A decision-making algorithm allows 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. These 52 sections or ”moods” can be anything from relaxed to disturbing. 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.

On April 16, 2022 the latest and final version, Solkreds III, was unveiled. Each day at solar noon the drones and bells of Solkreds II are silent and a Solsang (Sun Song) is heard. This is a daily event that occurs at solar noon, when the sun is highest in the sky at the local coordinates. The time varies from day to day within the range of 11:58 AM and 12:30 PM local standard time and an hour later during daylight saving time. There are 30 Sun Songs, one for each day of the lunar cycle. Sun Songs that are close to each other in the lunar cycle are musically similar, while Sung Songs that are far from each other are musically different. The Sun Songs are through-composed with a duration of 3 – 5 minutes each. They provide a contrast to the other, more random elements of Solkreds. Each Sun Song consists of twelve solo voices. The twelve sculptures are heard in a call and response dialogue with each other with some tutti passages, where all twelve voices sing together.

Solkreds 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 light 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 must take the lovely 15-minute walk through the forest to find the monument. The monument has already become an important tourist attraction in Denmark, with over 100,000 visitors annually.