“Plucked and Bowed”, improvisation and classical music, the creativity of My Hellgren and Peter Söderberg on #neuguitars #blog

“Plucked and Bowed”, improvisation and classical music, the creativity of My Hellgren and Peter Söderberg on #neuguitars #blog

Plucked and Bowed | My Hellgren & Peter Söderberg | FRIM Records (bandcamp.com)

FRIM (The Association for Free Improvised Music) was founded in 1976 in Stockholm, with the aim of creating a platform where to spread improvised music, understood as an art form, and where it was possible to organize not only concerts and festivals, but also manage a record label: FRIM Records.


Their second record release captured the first live onstage meeting of cellist My Hellgren and lutenist Peter Söderberg duo, which took place in Fylkingen, Stockholm in February 2021.

Hellgren is a Gothenburg-based musician specializing in solo and chamber music, she has premiered several pieces of contemporary music, often in close collaboration with composers. Söderberg has a background as a jazz guitarist and improviser, and as a lutenist he specializes in both Renaissance and contemporary music. The title of this meeting, “Plucked and Bowed“, best captures the spirit of this 47-minute set of acoustic and improvised music. Improvisation can be an ugly beast, a difficult obsession to ride. An artistic form with its own poetic logic, in continuous evolution. Musical impermanence elevated to form, where things you took for granted a few seconds ago can become traps for thought and fingers in an instant. You have nothing to fall back on; no harmonic sequences, rhythms, melodies and not even scales. In free improvisation you are alone and you have to be prepared for anything, because anything can happen. Just like in life, you don’t know if you are making the right decisions. You don’t really know what situation you will be in: you turn right and after a few moments you realize that you should have turned left, but turning back is not possible. So you have to do your best with the situation and hopefully make the right decision by turning it into something unexpectedly beautiful.

This improvisation begins with a gentle and careful search for the right dynamics, for a balance between different styles and instruments, but soon Hellgren and Söderberg begin to sketch thin, slender melodic veins, enriching them with a patient and introspective dynamic, often adding repercussions, creating a healthy tension. No scores, no conductor or composer. I think there is a special kind of beauty in music that is played once and never again: creation happens here and now. Maybe it’s wrong to even register it. Concentration is impressive. A blur, a substance or a shadow? Is there real musical thinking or are they just moving randomly? Definitely an interesting encounter, we are used to listening to these forms thanks to musicians from jazz or other genres more related to improvisation, finding two classical musicians, with their instruments, engaged in a similar one has an almost alienating effect. It opens up to new possibilities and narratives, to a new way of using an artistic background and established instruments in other musical genres. Do these records really ruin the landscape, Mr. Cage?

Done! Thank you!