Over Tones, ECM 2014
Benedicte Maurseth and Åsne Valland Nordli come from Hardanger, in the West of Norway, where the regional folk music which is a central focus of their work continues to inspire them. They began to play the Hardanger fiddle and to sing traditional kveding while still very young, studying with the foremost masters in the area.
Maurseth and Valland Nordli first began working together in 2008 in the vocal project Fodne ho svara stilt with Berit Opheim and Sigbjørn Apeland, but collaboration in duo dates from 2011. While working together in an Oslo theatre project the two musicians discovered that they shared aesthetic affinities at many levels. In May 2011, the new duo went into Audun Strype’s studio in Oslo and played traditional folk music and newly-composed folk music, as well as free improvised music. The results are issued now as the album “Over Tones.”
For Maurseth and Valland Nordli, older traditional music provides important musical, spiritual and artistic replenishment, and imparts a sense of being linked to a historical chain. This strong connection to old music also facilitates the channelling forth of new expressions. Separately and together Maurseth and Valland Nordli create new folk music, with strong inspiration from the form, colours and sound palette of traditional Hardanger fiddle and vocal music, and infuse this intuitively with other sources – for example, free improvised music, jazz, baroque and contemporary composition.
As Maurseth notes, musical freedom has always been natural and integral to folk music performance, and improvisation is a natural element for the duo. As performers they search for – and advocate – a direct and reflective musical expression.