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Suomi Jukebox
for solo piano

Work no. 20


    When I was a teenager, Finnish tracker music became a very important influence on my life and my music alike. I've been fascinated with Finland ever since, but my family couldn't afford a trip until 2001, and even then it was just a few hours-long stay in transit to Stockholm (where we also stayed for just a day or so). I would sometimes daydream of Helsinki streets and Kainuu wilderness alike, and I bought huge Russian-Finnish and Finnish-Russian dictionaries - yet there were no textbooks available, and I didn't have much time to study the language in any case.

    Google Maps was launched in 2005, and Google Street View in 2007. By mid-2010 Street View included views of Finnish cities and I could look at all kinds of images from places I've never been to. I ended up composing these short works which to me conjured spirits of places they're named after; the music is meant to be repeated over and over again while the player repeatedly executes a complicated series of movements required by the score (but not by the actual music, which could be notated, and consequently performed, in a simpler way). Like leaves from an old book of spells. My only regret is the title of the piece, which I suppose I've chosen trying to escape from the nostalgia and sadness I felt when thinking of the country I liked so much, but couldn't even visit, let alone live in.

    Each piece contains precisely the same number of three-note chords, most of which are connected with ties so that sometimes there's only one pitch changing, or two instead of all three. The structure can be more easily heard when the pieces are performed on an organ. I remember having trouble coming up with the right places and the right music for them; today, almost exactly ten years after Joensuu was composed, I feel like I could compose many more of these little spells, for many more Finnish places (I have since visited Helsinki three times), but I feel like the time for that is now gone.

    PDF score

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