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Suomi Jukebox
for solo piano/solo pipe organ

Work no. 20


    I discovered Finnish tracker music when I was a teenager. Like so many others, I was swept away by Jonne Valtonen's demo soundtracks at first. Then I found out about other Finnish tracker composers – Aleksi Eeben, Sami Järvinen, Markku Leinonen, Lassi Nikko, and many others – and even to this day I can discern traces of their influence on my work. Back then, I became fascinated with Finland and the Finnish language, but my family couldn't afford a trip. I would daydream about the streets of Helsinki, the dark forests of Kainuu, the cold lakes of Lapland.

    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. This is how 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. 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 several times), but I feel like the time for that is now gone.

    PDF score

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