Alexander Rishaug: “Children have a curiosity that professionals take for granted”

Across 2023, Norwegian sound artist and electronic music composer Alexander Rishaug hosted audio workshops for children and youth in Riga, Daugavpils and Tromso. He used the materials gathered during these educational activities for a part of his subsequent live performances at Insomnia and Skaņu Mežs with video artist Ingrid Bjørnaali. 

In the conversation below, he describes his main takeaways from his work as part of “LYRA”.

1. What was the focus of your workshops?

The aim of the audio workshops was to make the teenagers aware of the sounds and soundscapes around them and to use them for creative purposes. During the workshops they were exposed for the use of HD audio recorders and advanced microphones such as parabolic microphones, contact microphones, electromagnetic antenna, geophones,  etc. They were also introduced to the DAW software Ableton Live to edit, compose and process their field recordings.

2. What age group did you choose for the participants?

The group varied from 12 – 19 years, and a couple of adults joined as well

3. Sounds, created by participants were used within your live performances at Insomnia and Skaņu Mežs. Can You describe that in more detail?

The soundscapes and sounds I used for Skanu Mezs and Insomnia Festival were based on the same locations, sources and tools as the teenagers, but most of the recordings were done by me. The participants did their own compositions with their own material during the workshops, which they presented to each other.

4. Were the interests and priorities of participants very different from city to city, and country to country?

In general I found the participants in Riga on a different level than the participants in Daugavpils and Tromsø. The youngsters in Riga were a bit older and more experienced when it came to the use of computers and sound editing.

5. What did you learn about these children and young people as listeners?

It was fun for me as a sound artist and composer to interact with the participants. They always bring in new perspectives and curiosity that we as professionals often take for granted. They’re unafraid and are really super fast learners when it comes to the use of new software and technology.

Text: Rihards Endriksons

LYRA receives grants in the amount of EUR 206,256.00 within the framework of the EEA Grants and Norway Grants funded by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. The project aims to introduce kids and teenagers to experimental music and to get them involved in its creation. As it is democratic and non-hierarchical in essence, experimental music gives trained and untrained kids the chance to take part in making music. Since the project crosses social and ethnic divides, it is also socially inclusive.

Total LYRA eligible costs: EUR 202,510.00, European Economic Area financial instrument programme Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Culture Cooperation support sum: 85% or EUR 85,000.00, of which:

  • European Economic Area financial instrument co-financing: 85% or EUR 175,317.60;
  • State Budget co-financing: 15% or EUR 30,938.40.
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