Commissioned by International Contemporary Music Festival AFEKT
bass clarinet, trumpet, tuba, piano, percussion (1 player), violin, viola, cello
23 October 2021, Tallinn, Noblessner Foundry, International Contemporary Music Festival AFEKT, by Ensemble Musikfabrik, conducted by Clement Power
As a composer I value everything that influences our ability to consciously embrace the present moment and keenly observe that which surrounds us – the various facets of silence and noise as well as microscopic events in sounds and the musical process because, paradoxically, it seems that the more the composition process is tied to the music itself and the musical reality, the more it allows the music to mirror the surrounding existence and its patterns through moments of insight.
In a way, Born In Waves is a continuation to my previous piece To Become a Tree (2014), which observes daily life at the backdrop of technological singularity and biotic crisis. In 2014 I wrote: our environment is constantly being monitored and even recreated, and yet it is more difficult than ever to maintain the balance of the ecosystem based on its simplest foundations. Data driven industries and technological singularity (a threat of uncontrollable processes in the technological sphere) cause the more profound reality driven insights – i.e., our inherent ability to form a decision by integrating various levels of intelligence that involve intuition, inspiration and differentiation capacity – to shift from the centre of focus. In the meantime, everything has amplified. I noticed that to remain in touch with myself during the crisis, I needed to delve even further into my roots – so I returned to the sea and the waves, which form the very essence of my roots. My entire family comes from the small island of Kihnu, which is protected under
UNESCO Cultural Heritage.
I remember an incident from my childhood, when I was reading about Enn Uuetoa or Kihnu Jõnn, a an unauthorised captain, who lived on Kihnu island in the 1850s – he was always the first one who dared to test the ice in early winter to get home on foot from his assignments. Once he had the courage to go, others would follow – he was called the “ice tester”. This reminded me of one of my own experiences at sea: I was still in kindergarten when I tried to follow my grandfather to his fishing spot on the ice (it’s fascinating how small children only see adventure everywhere, not danger). Luckily, my grandfather’s dog picked up my scent downwind; that was when I understood that you don’t joke around with the sea. You need to learn to live with the sea. If you live in a neutral city environment, you tend to forget about those things. You must take nature into account, and in that sense, nothing has changed in this world. It is one thing to stay away when the waves are thrashing around. But it is entirely different when the changes are visible and tangible – the decline in the number of species; the sounds, scents and colours that no longer exist. When you don’t see these things that used to bring you daily joy, it saddens you and makes you think how much every person could do to help reduce our ecological footprint.
My daughter was born right before the COVID-19 crisis, but this crisis helped me understand that children need contact with nature, similar to what I experienced in my childhood. It provides a deeper understanding of life and helps us see the cause-and-effect relationships around us. As we are borrowing this world from our children and yet are so inept at preserving nature, maybe this gives us a little hope that in the future, professionals in IT and other sectors will learn to take nature and the environment into account early on, and find smarter ways of living and better solutions for the problems we have created. So, in a sense, this composition is a reverberation of past years. On the other hand, it is also about rekindling my relationship with the sea, the environment into which I was born.