On Music for Lands of Treasure by IC-98 (2021)

Animated art film Lands of Treasure by artists group IC-98, for which I have composed the music, was premiered until March 6th 2022 at the Serlachius Museum Gösta, Mänttä, Finland.

The work is now being displayed at the Hyvinkää Art Museum as the main piece of artist collective IC-98’s Wounded Earth exhibition from September 15th 2022 until January 8th 2023.

The Hyvinkää Art Museum

The script with no dialogue is based on an old Finnish folk tale about an encounter at night between a forest spirit and a stonemason in a forest. The stonemason shoots the forest spirit, which falls and creates a large clearing. People take advantage of this as they begin to divide up the land. The story describes the birth of modern society and the alienation of humankind from nature.

Serlachius Gösta Museum.

The short musical motifs I composed for the film were brilliantly recorded in the Finnvox studio, Helsinki by conductor Nils Schweckendiek and the vocal sextet of The Helsinki Chamber Choir: Tove Djupsjöbacka, Veera Kuusirati, Eira Karlson, Susanna Sippola, Martti Anttila and Jussi Linnanmäki.

From left: sound engineer Niklas Jussila, conductor Nils Schweckendiek , altos Eira Karlson and Susanna Sippola, soprano Veera Kuusirati , bass Jussi Linnanmäki, soprano Tove Djupsjöbacka , tenor Martti Anttila, sound designer Toni Ilo and composer Max Savikangas.
Producing the recording.

The musical motifs were divided into four categories: 1) main music 2) solos with accompaniment 3) spectral and more dissonant chord materials, which take the form of both harmonic progression, musical ambience, polyrhythmic textures and declarative chord accents 4) speech choir segments (wind imitations, spoken asemantic syllabic and consonant textures), which create an interface toward sound design.

A page from the sheet music.

I composed the finished music from these motifs on a digital audio workstation, utilizing a modular composition technique, i.e. by arranging the motifs sequentially, overlapping, stacking, etc. At some points six singers are realistically heard, at others a multiple.

Composing on a digital audio workstation.

The music is quite extensive in duration, inevitably progressing, rugged, sculptural and mostly gloomy. In the beginning there are long episodes that invite the listener to step into the work to experience the space, and to feel the false spectral melodies produced by slowly sung diphthongs, which each listener will experience individually; the overlapping vocal slides create an aurora borealis -like flickering spectral veil over the sung pitches.

There is no given semantic text in the music, as requested by IC-98. My solution was to have the choir sing with asemantic vowels and slow diphthongs which I composed into the music. The formant slides serve both rhythmic, coloring and mentioned false melody function.

Also, as a byproduct, at certain moments in the music, where I have superimposed the polyrhythmic chord texture sung with different vowels and the consonant utterance speech choir texture, one might imagine listening to a language that may have been, will be, or exists in some other reality.

Working on the soundtrack. From left: sound designer Toni ilo, director Visa Suonpää of IC-98 and composer Max Savikangas.

The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound format and the loudspeaker system is installed accordingly. Indeed, the music takes advantage of the placement of its many different elements around the listener and their movement around the listener. For me as a composer, the immersion of sound in this case has been one equal means of expression alongside melody, vocal expression, harmony, rhythm and tone of voice. Many thanks to sound designer Toni Ilo (Finnvox Cinepost), who not only made all the other sounds in the soundtrack and was responsible for the whole, but also realized the spatial dimension of the music in the studio according to my wishes!

Listen to an excerpt from the soundtrack (ca 8 min., stereomixdown)

Press release

Watch the trailer on one these social media platforms:


Author: maxsavikangas


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