Korvat Auki: Performance-Led Research of Finnish Contemporary Music

This post will be a write up of the presentation I gave this week at the RMA (Royal Music Association) Study Day on Nordic Music at the University of York. Having never been to a UK research event, or a study day, this was a really great opportunity for me to experience this type of academic event and meet other researchers working with Nordic music. It also happened that most of the presentations centered on Finnish music, which was fun.

For this presentation, I made an attempt at concretely merging my sociocultural-anthropological observations regarding Finnish culture with my perspectives as a performer regarding Finnish contemporary music. I have written over and over how Finnish contemporary music culture, and classical music culture, feels so different from American classical and contemporary music culture, but this presentation tried to analyze Finnish contemporary music and musical practice from the historical and social perspective of societal values that were cemented in the 1970s and 1980s with the political and economic stability that developed in the Finnish nation post-World War 2.

This presentation could be the result of a current academic-existential crisis - am I an anthropologist, a performer, a historian, a music analyst (ok, probably not), or a musicologist? Or some combination? While I do not wish to simplify history to make a musical point, or simplify musical analysis to prove something anthropologically, I do believe that there’s something to be said for, dare I say, a pragmatic approach to analysis of contemporary music. With its complexity and variety, it is natural that analyses and approaches of study become more complex, but if the goal is to make connections, I think simplifying, while not ignoring the complexities, might be helpful.

So here we have my presentation, with commentary. It’s certainly a work in progress, but I am happy with the seeds planted.

Lucy Abrams