Matias Harju

Sound Designer, Musician

Aalto Day One ceremony music

As a commissioned work I put together two musical pieces for the official season opening ceremony of Aalto University, Aalto Day One, held on September 5th 2018 in Otaniemi, Espoo.

The video above shows the performance piece "Modulated Meanings" in which old analogue technology − theremin, tube radio transceivers and modular synthesiser − meets new music making toys − Artiphon, laptops and digital synth modules. The piece was created in collaboration with guitar and pedalsteel artist Artur Uronen and new media artist Sourya Sen.

However, even though the piece is based on an array of technical gadgets the performance tries to declare that the role of the technology is merely to transfer the human message: In the lobby the audience was encouraged to contribute to my sound installation by telling to a microphone what Aalto University means to them. I used some of those words, sentences and sounds in the performance by sending them through two radio transceivers and modulated with SSB mode and playing around with the tuning VFO of the receiver.

The organisers requested that the ceremony starts and ends with the old student song Gaudeamus igitur, but with a fresh or experimental arrangment. I wanted to make it ceremonial and solemn, but for a contrast play the melody with soft theremin and have the background played with retro synth sounds (video below). I'm far from being a master of the theremin, but I thought the instrument's exotic nature matches the open-minded and technology-friendly attitude of the university.

Musicians:
Matias Harju − theremin, radio transceivers
Artur Uronen − Artiphon
Sourya Sen − modular synthesiser

Videos courtesy of Aalto University