Lena Kramer “Club Night of Estonian Music Days: An abundant evening”

The Club Night of the Estonian Music Days in Von Krahli Baar consisted of several very different events, giving the visitors the opportunity to discover a lot of new music and understand better how music and composing works: First up, the composing project „Ludus Tonalis“ had a performance, later on, the DJs of Tallinn’s famous Mutant Disco played their dance music downstairs, being accompanied at the DJ-desk by some of the Estonian composers involved in the festival, while upstairs experimental electronic music was presented, partly specially composed for this evening.

The concert series „Ludus Tonalis“ (tonal game) is a project founded by young Estonian composers who organise monthly concerts with new music that is created following certain „game rules“ for the composing process. The 8th concert of the series took place in collaboration with the Estonian Music Days and presented a piece written the previous Monday in an act of „chain-writing“; five composers, everyone given exactly one hour of time, wrote the piece „Kesk linna rahu“ (City center peace) one-by-one in Hotel Palace in Tallinn. Some of the composers (Rasmus Puur, Timo Steiner, Rein Rannap, Marianna Liik, Kirke Karja, Ülo Krigul) are very young and some are already established on Estonia’s music scene, which also adds an exciting element to the project.

Downstairs in Von Krahl, this work is performed by a 4-piece-ensemble: violin, bassoon, clarinet and viola. The atmosphere is friendly and light-hearted; many of the visitors are friends of the participating composers or musicians. Everyone in the audience receives a sheet of paper, on which they can guess which one of the composers wrote which part or express their thoughts and feelings about the music. This is a game („Ludus“) not only for composers, but also for the people in the audience, who enthusiastically start writing down their thoughts, excited about whether they will be right or wrong.

The music sheets are not printed on paper: as befitting the concert’s motto „Magus Muusika“ (sweet music), the piece is played from decorated marzipan cakes, in order to symbolise the ephemeral nature of music – if not recorded but just played, it is gone in a moment and can never be repeated in exactly the same way, just as a cake, which is gone forever if eaten.

The „sweet music“ itself sounds like a patchwork, sewed together by different craftsmen. There are always new motives, styles and rhythms turning up, none of them is repeated. Later the composers will admit that everyone of them rather created a new beginning instead of working with the previous composers‘ material. But still: It is not five different pieces of music, it is one. It has suspense, a climax, a structure. It is impressive to see what can be created in so short time and under pressure, even more, considering there were technical problems with the computer during the „chain-writing“-process, stealing big amounts of time from some of the composers.

After a relaxed and interesting talk with the composers about writing, problems and inspiration during this project , „Kesk linna rahu“ is performed again and everyone gets a piece of cake. The Tonal Game is over, and everyone had fun – see you next time!

Now, downstairs, the Mutant Disco starts. Throughout the evening, you will see its well-known DJs Raul Saaremets, Siim Nestor and Rhythm Doctor being helped out at their job by Helena Tulve and Timo Steiner, the organisers of Estonian Music Days, who are also composers, whose music was performed at the festival. Von Krahl is not packed, but the small crowd is in a good mood. You can spot a lot of familiar faces if you went to some concerts of the Estonian Music Days. It’s the festival’s official afterparty. Musicians, conductors, organisers (but also everyone else, of course) are enjoying themselves after playing their part in the schedule.

An „acoustic exhibition“ can also be visited at this party full of abundant creativeness. With a computer and headphones, it is possible to listen to the piece „One Day on the Spring“ by Alexandr Zhedeljev and to how it sounds in Tallinn’s different concert spots: the Estonia Concert Hall, the Niguliste Church, Kanuti Gildi Saal and Kloostri Ait. By experiencing the big differences in sounds, echo and the effect on the listener, the importance of acoustic becomes obvious. Music is never fully independent from its outer conditions and the same piece of music can be listened or performed in many different ways.

In the meantime, the Night Concerts are upstairs. Sander Mölder, a young composer, producer and DJ has put together a program with five young students of all kinds of music, who composed pieces of experimental electronic music especially for this night. The room’s dark walls are full of psychedelic projections, creating a mysterious atmosphere.

Siimeon Liik, a student of electroacoustics, presents in her performance „Värvide maailm“ („World of Colours“) the connection of a traditional instrument (her contrabass) with electronic sounds. He shows a lot of different ways to make sounds with a double bass, while experimental sounds grumble in the dark. It is uncanny, fascinating and impressive. The double bass and the sounds work together, fight each other, complement each other.

The other pieces completely lack any live played instruments. Nobody is performing actually, the audience sits in the room, left alone in the dark, and just listens. It feels like a journey into unknown territory. Kaisa Johvik’s „Kollaaž“ (Collage) is made out of known music by Estonian composers, which is cut, put together again and mixed with gloomy bass. Marianna Liik’s „Postluudium“ sounds like Trance music without the beat, or maybe even like music from another world. All this is music that demands the listener’s entire attention, leading him to new places.

The afterparty of the Estonian Music Days 2015 was a rich and colourful experience full of inventive thoughts and new ways of experiencing music. The events that took place are hard to connect with one certain idea – but diversity and abundance are important in music and art in general. A lot of the artists who were involved in this event are still very young; this shows that the small country of Estonia has a huge creative potential and a bright future in music.