Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 1, 2013.

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Send R. Michael Wahlquist to the land of Karelia to preserve & reinvent its sonic heritage in a set of new compositions.

Kivach waterfall, Republic of Karelia, Russia.
Kivach waterfall, Republic of Karelia, Russia.

THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! 

СПАСИБО БОЛЬШОЕ!!!

The fundraising on Kickstarter has been successful and I've definitely felt the love! You can still follow and support the project at KarelianSoundscapes.org. That's also where you'll be able to pick up a copy of the finished album when it is ready! 

Photo Rewards Alert! 

For the final days of the project I am offering a new reward incentive! For any current backer who raises their pledge by at least $5, or any new backer who pledges at least $5 more than an established reward tier ($30 for $25 reward for example), I will provide access to all of the photos that I will take in Russia. For more details, see Update #2 above. 

UPDATE - Karelian Soundscapes in a Nutshell

The end goal of this project is the creation of a new album of music. I hope it will be music that you will find beautiful and compelling. If I had to apply genre labels to the way I expect the music to sound, you might call it 'ambient' 'minimalist' 'chill' or 'meditative' - but I hope to transcend any of these concepts in creating something entirely new. My rough conception for how the album will progress is a sort of spiritual/sonic journey around Karelia, Russia (see below). Not only will I seek inspiration in the sights of nature and the experience of culture to be found there, but I will search out sounds that are beautiful and unique. (One byproduct of this expedition will be the documentation of Karelia's 'soundscape' in my field recordings- a valuable exercise in acoustic ecology.) These sounds will find their way into my new album of music in the most creative and engaging ways that I can think of as a composer. I could get more technical, but the point is that this music I hope to create will only be possible by obtaining, as it were, rare and precious sound artifacts from the chosen destination. I think of it sort of like an architect tasked to construct a new building, with the requirement that they incorporate pieces of ancient ruins left on the site. The result will be something unlike anything else in the world because it weaves these irreplaceable pieces into its structure. So: An expedition. An album. Something new in the world.

Why Karelia?

You've probably never heard of Karelia, but I hope to change that for you and many others. Not to be confused with Han Solo's fictional birthplace Corellia, The Republic of Karelia is in the northwest corner of Russia, next to Finland: 

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Republic of Karelia is full of contrasting but coexisting sounds that fascinate me as a composer. The noisy bustle of the main city of Petrozavodsk is punctuated by the call of church bells. The natural serenity of the island of Kizhi on lake Onega is interrupted only by intermittent shiploads of eager tourists in the summer. Known as 'the Songlands,' this region on the Finno-Russian border is the source of the poems of the Kalevala, the Finnish national legend. It is also the last place where bylina, East Slavic oral epic poems, are still sung. Endless tracts of taiga and 60,000 lakes host a symphony of birds and wildlife. All together these elements give Karelia a truly exceptional sonic environment or 'soundscape.' Such a diverse and vibrant soundscape is the ideal place to pursue answers to some of the questions at the heart of what excites me about making music: How can a composer make use of the unique soundscape of a locale? How can ancient musical practices be given new relevance and expression through modern composition?

Wooden buildings on the island of Kizhi.
Wooden buildings on the island of Kizhi.

The Project

I plan on visiting Russia for two months from May to June 2013 to conduct a recording expedition. I will work with musicians of the Folkloric Ethnographic Theater on Kizhi and master bell ringer Igor Hutter to study and record two main aspects of local musical traditions - Karelian folk music and northern Russian bell ringing. I will document the more atmospheric elements of the Karelian soundscape (things like natural and city sounds) in field recordings. Using these recordings, I will compose and produce a series of new musical works inspired by and incorporating the soundscape of Karelia. Some of these compositions will be electronic (no live performer involved) others will be electroacoustic (one or more performers involved), possibly including folk instruments such as the kantele played in unusual ways. By the end of summer a full length album will be released, while the body of recordings will continue to be useful compositional source material for years to come. Key soundscape recordings will be shared on a special website to preserve and share this research. 

The city of Petrozavodsk, Russia.
The city of Petrozavodsk, Russia.

My project has been endorsed by several organizations and individuals in Karelia, including the Ministry of Culture of Karelia, the Glazunov Conservatory in Petrozavodsk, and the Kizhi Musuem Society. Musicians from the Folkloric Ethnographic Theater on Kizhi have agreed to collaborate with me. Master bell ringer Igor Hutter, who has been instrumental in the development of a unique modern style of northern Russian bell ringing, has agreed to work with me and demonstrate local belfries throughout the region around Petrozavodsk.

This project is an opportunity for all involved to help preserve and expand the sonic heritage of Karelia. Not only will I be creating a permanent aural snapshot of Karelia 2013, but I will also add my own contribution to Karelia's artistic story. Potentially thousands of people will be affected in this 21st century cross-cultural musical experience - a blend of styles and sounds, technologies and traditions. 

View of the island of Kizhi.
View of the island of Kizhi.

Timeline and Expenses

After the fundraising is complete, the process of obtaining a visa and making travel/accommodation plans will begin. The plan is to arrive in Russia at the beginning of May, and to stay through the end of June. Recordings will be collected in Petrozavodsk and surrounding villages, as well as on the island of Kizhi. During July and August a series of compositions will be written using these recordings, with an album released in September 2013 to finish the project. At least one concert performance of Karelian Soundscapes will take place Fall 2013. Reaching the fundraising goal will help pay expenses that include but are not limited to:

  • Air travel to and from Russia
  • Local accommodations and travel expenses
  • Visa and registration fees
  • Field recording equipment
  • Mastering and production of the Karelian Soundscapes album
A forest path in Karelia
A forest path in Karelia

Please check out my bio above for more details about me. Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about this project or the rewards! Below are some of my pieces featured in the video, you can learn more about each by clicking through the link!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

With any project involving visas and international travel, there is the chance that events abroad could interfere with the best laid plans. If for some reason circumstances beyond my control prevent travel to Russia this summer, either different arrangements will be made for a later travel date, or local Russian contacts will be engaged to collect soundscape recordings. Either way the soundscape recordings will be obtained and employed in compositions.

FAQ

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    Receive a weekly newsletter from Russia, including exclusive soundbites, photos, and videos. Every backer who donates at least $1 will also be sent a one-of-a-kind soundbite and digital photo from Russia. This soundbite will later be catalogued online with your name as sponsor!

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    Receive the newsletter and a digital download of one track from the Karelian Soundscapes album.

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    Receive the newsletter and a digital download of three tracks from the Karelian Soundscapes album.

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    Receive the newsletter and a digital download of the Karelian Soundscapes E.P. - a shorter, budget-friendly version of the full album. (5-7 tracks, 20-30 minutes)

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    Receive the newsletter and a digital download of the full Karelian Soundscapes album, including digital liner notes. (10-12 tracks, 50-70 minutes)

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    Receive the newsletter plus a physical copy of the full Karelian Soundscapes album (10-12 tracks, 50-70 minutes). Additionally, every $25+ backer will receive a unique photo print from the expedition.

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    Receive the newsletter plus a signed physical copy of the full Karelian Soundscapes album. This special edition will include an additional 30+ minutes of recordings from Russia.

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    6 backers

    Receive everything from the $35 level plus a digital download of the composer's current album of piano comprovisations: Map of Trees.

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    4 backers

    Receive everything from the $45 level plus a physical copy of the composer's current album Map of Trees. Also receive a signed copy of the score of one of the pieces from Karelian Soundscapes and a printed photo journal of the expedition.

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    6 backers

    Receive everything from the $75 level plus unrestricted access to the complete raw recordings from the expedition (these may be used for your own compositional/sampling purposes)!

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    4 backers Limited (2 left of 6)

    Receive everything from the $100 level; additionally your name will be listed as the dedicatee of a movement of Karelian Soundscapes in both the liner notes and score.

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    0 backers Limited (6 left of 6)

    Receive everything from the $250 level and two 60 minute discussions conducted either online or in person (Wasatch Front area February-April). Possible subjects are composition, songwriting, or any music topic of your choice. If you would like, this could include collaboration on a movement of Karelian Soundscapes that will be dedicated to you.

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    1 backer Limited (3 left of 4)

    Receive everything from the $350 level except the dedication on a Karelian Soundscapes piece; instead I will compose a new piece for a chamber grouping of your choice (up to five instruments). This is your chance to commission an original R. Michael Wahlquist composition!

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    Receive everything from the $500 level and a live performance by composer R. Michael Wahlquist at your home or other local venue of your choice (Continental US only, please allow additional time for logistics).

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Funding period

- (30 days)