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May 30, 2022 Copenhagen

Just five kilometres from central Copenhagen lies Refshale Island, once an industrial area and site of former shipyard Burmeister & Wain (B&W). Today it’s a hip and happening quarter, and B&W’s iconic welding hall is now home to Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen’s international arts centre. Within this magnificent industrial backdrop, in the heart of the otherwise empty 600m2 Hall 6 sits Lars Greve – no rows of chairs, no stage – just one man and his two clarinets.


Saxophonist, clarinet player, composer, sound artist, and a graduate of the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen – Lars Greve is a leading force in creating 360-degree, fully-immersive sound experiences.  He says, “I am very drawn towards creating new listening experiences, and one of my methods is to explore possibilities through cooperation and discussion with companies or institutions who work with sound in more unusual ways, for example HBK, who have led me to new ways of working with accelerometers. My hope is to discover new sound inventions across artistic and engineer-based practices”. His latest project, ‘A World Arises’ runs on the platform ‘Resonating Rooms’ – a cultural institution focusing on approachable and innovative music projects, of which Lars is artistic director. We were invited along to take part in this unique listening experience.

Awakening the inner resonance

Left in all its minimalistic architectural glory, Hall 6 comes to life as Lars’ improvised clarinet music, amplified through the 100-metre-long ventilation pipes, transforms the room into a resonating space, drawing in guests as they move around, lie down, or lean into walls to ‘feel’ and absorb the sound – an experience further enhanced by the natural incoming light and the sound of rain beating on the roof above.


“I’m trying discover the artistic potential of playing improvised music in a room that has its own unique acoustic profile and making objects in the room vibrate. In this case, the objects include the extensive ventilation system.”


The setup is simple. Sixteen exciter transducers, attached to the pipes in the room, act as a loudspeaker. When Lars plays the clarinet, the signal is sent to a mixer desk and then sent to the exciter transducers, which ‘disturb’ the metal pipes causing them to oscillate and create the soundscape – just as a microphone, CD player, etc., sends a song to an amplifier connected to speakers. Lars says, “As you move around the room and feel the different vibrations, the character of the sound changes and the sensory journey unfolds.”


Resonance can be defined both as “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighbouring object” or the “power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions” - Lars initiates the first definition where the sound of the clarinet is amplified by resonances, thereby evoking an inner resonance or emotional reaction in the listener.


The resonances that amplify the noise emitted by the vibrating panels and pipes provide more than the usual straightforward amplification of the clarinet’s sound and are a source of inspiration for Lars. “The feedback from the surrounding objects allows me to interplay with the room on a more sophisticated level – with the room adding and bringing sounds to me, and hopefully creating an environment that is just as engaging for the audience as it is for me. You could argue that the room becomes an instrument.”


For Lars, this experimental format lies somewhere between a sound installation and a regular, improvised concert. He explains, “In a normal concert setting, the audience needs to invest a great deal to experience what I experience. But by bringing vibration and resonance into the room, the audience become composers, always exploring. Does the sound of the pipe awake any feelings? How do I feel when I touch the wall and feel the vibration? What happens to the sound when I’m not fixed to a chair? I offer a musical experience that can be entered and sensed with the whole body – it can be chaotic, it can be meditative – but the most important aspect is that the listener is as emotionally moved by the music as I am. So, there’s a resonance on a physical level, but there’s also resonance on an emotional, even spiritual level. My aim is to create a room where the listener feels that they can resonate with me, with the room and with the world.”


In this ‘behind the scenes’ video, recorded in a swimming pool, Lars Greve describes the setup, similar to the setup of ‘A World Arises’, but without the hydrophones of course.

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