Chapter 1: Methodical Approach and theory

1.1 Methodology

The term artistic research emerged in the late 1990s when music conservatories starting to merge with universities and needed to clarify how artists conduct their research (Crispin, 2015). The term artistic practice includes composition and performance (Crispin, 2015; Stévance & Lacasse, 2018). When does artistic practice become research?

We can justifiably speak of artistic research (‘research in the arts’) when that artistic practice is not only the result of the research, but also its methodological vehicle, when the research unfolds in and through the acts of creating and performing (Borgdorff, 2011 p. 46).

Is it a further need to contextualise the artistic processes? Pianist and scholar Darla Crispin advocates for the artist-researcher as both participant in their artistic activity and observer of their own artistic work (Crispin, 2015, p. 56). An artistic-researcher combines an inside and a view from the observer. The artist-researcher applies systematic methods and objectives suggesting an equilibrium between artistic work and the written reflection. Crispin underlines the need for new formats like web-based platforms and the lack of consensus within the artistic research community on how to contextualise the self-reflection (Crispin, 2015, p.70). A similar term, research-creation (Stévance & Lacasse, 2018) is taught at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.

Research-creation should be considered as a methodological approach applied to individual or multiple-agent projects combining research methods and creative practices within a dynamic frame of causal interaction, and leading to both scholarly and artefactual productions (be they artistic or otherwise) (Stévance & Lacasse, 2018, p.145).

Research-creation suggests a more cyclical methodical approach and lean towards a collaborative approach favouring joint projects (Stévance & Lacasse, 2018, pp.16, 18, 136-137) over individual work. One of the arguments made is artists’ lack of formal training in academic research and the benefits collaborating with a trained researcher. However, lack of understanding each other’s position and knowledge from all parties involved may be limited and inhibit the process rather than accelerate it.

Artistic research (Crispin, 2015) or research-creation (Stévance & Lacasse, 2018) emerge when contextualising and applying artistic practice as a method (researching) in and through arts. Both applies a strict methodological framework and an interdependence and equilibrium (Crispin, 2015) or causal integration (Stévance & Lacasse, 2018) of the artistic output and written text. It is expected to go beyond self-reflection and connect to various academic and artistic discourses. In this context, the following questions are actualized: Is it possible to combine the position as artist to the musicological observer? Or is it a gradually movement between these? Another approach more in line with my view is found in Dialogues between Artistic Research and Science and Technology Studies (Borgdorff, H., Peters, P. & T. Pinch, 2020) emphasising the intrinsic of the art and artistic process:

In the debate on artistic research, many have taken the position that this additional work is to be seen as the reflective, discursive, or written part of the research or of the submission of a PhD thesis. Hence, there is a sharp distinction between the artwork and the reflection on it. But that position misses the point of the intertwinement of theory and practice in artistic research. If we acknowledge the agency of material practices and things, and if we stress the importance of studio-based, practice-based methods, and if we furthermore acknowledge that cognition is embodied, embedded, and enacted in material practices, then we should not hesitate to conclude that the reasoning is also located in those material practices. One should at least take the agency: that is, the epistemic and methodological force of the artefacts and artistic practices into account (Borgdorff, H., Peters, P. & T. Pinch, 2020, p. 4).

An important question regarding artistic research is positionality, especially when contextualising artistic practice. The advantage with an inside view is sharing expert tacit knowledge but the disadvantage is being too close to the process. The latter making it challenging to obtain a critical distance given the subjectivity of artistic research. In my dissertation the combining working within the art and at the same time maintain a critical distance have been challenging. This seems to be a common challenge within the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme (Vassenden, 2013) problematising (the lack of) critical reflection by artists in this programme. Vassenden highlights the subjectivity of the candidates in many of the projects and at times the lack of a clear conceptual and theoretical structure when applying a traditional scientific approach.
Borgdorff argues for web-based solutions when publishing artistic research:

In the context of artistic research, the research catalogue is positioned precisely in the gap between the documentation of the work using texts, images and sound and the publication of the work as research. Something happens here that is crucial: a transposition of the work from the aesthetic realm to the epistemic realm (Borgdorff, H., Peters, P. & Pinch, T, 2020, p.21).

Although I acknowledge the importance of establishing the web-based platform research catalogue, I find the tools and technical design a bit “outdated” and not aimed at optimizing a good presentable design, especially when handling different types of media. Therefore, I felt compelled to present and design a webpage as stylistic and professional as possible. In my opinion this effects the validation and final outcome. The research catalogue presents itself more as work-in progress. I assert that by publishing my work as a webpage I am contextualising the artistic processes into research. And I hereby align myself in line with Borgdorff’s notion of intertwinement.

My dissertation aims to be a concrete example of compositional processes. It is inspired by an original sound signature that I have developed as a composer and producer coming into contact with other cultures. The performance elements presented throughout the dissertation is part of this global sound, as my sound as a pianist and composer are intertwined. This artistic practice presents new methods that may inform performers, theorists and listeners. Furthermore, it is relevant for those who wish to approach artistic research in a diverse cultural light. In order to study these processes, I apply autoethnography in the written part of the dissertation. It is a self-reflexive method whereby one uses personal experience to describe and critique cultural beliefs, practices and experiences (Adams, Jones, & Ellis, 2015, pp. 1-2). The producer and electric bass player Mike Howlett apply the same approach in his PhD dissertation: The Record Producer as Nexus: Creative Inspiration, Technology and the Recording Industry (Howlett, 2009), narrating his experiences as record producer in the studio. This self-reflexive method as part of artistic research contribute towards an acquired artistic knowledge.

Audio files from various recording sessions are my primary source of this data, with studio recording being a method to produce audio. This is related to the research field of music technology (Dybo, 2017). In addition, I use musical analysis on imaginary musical objects (Cook, 2000): Scores, harmonic structures and voicings. In this way as an artist I am inside or part of the object while still creating it. Applied in a collaborate setting the musicians are musicking these objects. I have also employed a qualitative method of participant observation in my fieldwork (Holme & Solvang, 2004, pp. 104-108), the reason being that I situate myself and my music at the centre of the research as I interact and communicate with participants in studio sessions, rehearsals and concerts. Although I have discussed my research with everyone involved, I have chosen not to be too specific about the details as so many times it would be a partly hidden observation (Repstad, 2007, p. 40). The reason being that in a studio or live setting making music can be restraining for the participants if they have a feeling of being “lab rats” in a social experiment, since the creative process is fragile. This is ethically questionable, but at the same time the trust earned through my collaborations over time is a strength because they are genuine and open dialogues. In my autoethnographic work, it is equally ethically challenging in regard to upholding the truth as a researcher, considering it could mean offending the musicians and artists involved in further written analyses. As I work with high profile musicians and artists with international careers, this could have an (negative) impact and I therefore need to be considerate in not exploiting their trust. Several of my collaborators were reluctant to the idea of interviews so I did not pursue this option.

One benefit of such self-exploration found in artistic research is first-hand knowledge and deep(er) insights into the process of wording tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1966), i.e., an expression to describe unspoken know-how often found in practical professions. Keith Swanwick raises the question about tacit knowledge (Swanwick, 1989 pp. 87-88), and asks whether explicit knowledge could be a more accurate definition in the music profession. On the other hand, subjectivity can present a challenge in the analysis due to the investigator, namely myself, being too close to the material being researched.

1.2 Fieldwork

I employ modern technology in fieldwork and composing tools, such as a laptop as a portable studio to record studio sessions, rehearsals and live performances. Dropbox, Facebook and WhatsApp are useful digital tools for communication and maintaining contact with an international network. My main digital audio workstations are Apple Logic, Pro Tools and the notation software Sibelius for arranging full scores. The iPhone app iTalk is used recording compositorial sketches and rehearsals. In addition to audio, field notes and logs form the basis of my empirical data. The major part of my fieldwork and artistic research has transpired in studios and live concerts in different countries, as well as my home studio, where I explore musical ideas and experimenting searching for new soundscapes.

Rehearsals and concerts with vocalists and band have been recorded with video and audio. The quality of these is variable and sometimes more for documentation purposes in contrast to the final albums with high quality. After all the recordings are undertaken, I continue editing and arranging in my home studio before I give the files to a professional sound engineer. Following completion, the mix is sent to the master sound engineer in another studio. I then collaborate with the sound engineer to discuss the results and suggest possible changes. 

I have been present in the regions over longer periods of time, which has provided in ample opportunities for attending cultural events and to take part in everyday life. Fieldwork in other countries is more than just the music and specific work-related situations. It is all those random cultural meetings trying to communicate without a common language whether it is in a taxi, at a restaurant or playing with other musicians. Learning Khmer, Thai and Arabic language has assisted me in understanding some of the cultural context when interacting and adapting. These languages have no similarity to Norwegian or English so my pronunciation have amused locals for years, yet provided me an opportunity to learn in social settings. “Going native” sets me apart from the average western tourist and expats who does not speak the native language.

In some ways, unlearning my Norwegian habits and looking at a culture from an inside view helps to better understand that culture applying a hermeneutic approach in terms of: how far into a person’s musical and cultural horizon can I see? How does it contribute to my horizon of experience? (Gadamer, 2013).  Nonetheless, I have to acknowledge that I will always be a foreign element, with (traditional) music as a key to understand the culture’s references and history. Due to limitations, this will be exemplified through my artistic work and not a focus in the written discussions.

1.3 Ethics

As to be expected, and in line with what is mentioned above, there have been several ethical challenges along the way, including the previously mentioned hidden participant observation. Composing, producing and publishing for my independent record label, I possess all rights over my own material. This is important, as I can choose and share from all the empirical data without getting into legal copyright actions. Working in other cultures raises questions about ethics regarding copyrights, credits and musical appropriation (Feld, 1994). None of the four countries I have recorded in have copyright collecting society organizations, such as TONO, Gramart or SACAM, to help provide an income from streaming or mechanical rights.

Figure 2: Screenshot from Spotify, a digital music streaming service.

In my latest record, Dawara, I credited all my musicians as artists in order to secure visibility in the digital streaming platforms (Figure 2). Fees for studio time, rehearsals and concerts have been paid to all the personnel involved. Ouch Savy, who has been writing lyrics in Khmer, has been paid royalties from my company, since there are no collecting societies in Cambodia.

Collaborating with female vocalists has raised culture-related concerns of normativity and at times hierarchical expectations (Hawkins, 2017; Whiteley, 2000) about musical interaction in a concert setting with a typical set-up of women in front and a male dominant orchestra. But one might ask: is it as simple as that? In my opinion this diminishes the importance of the traditional music vocalists Savy Ouch and Abeer Nehme, the latter having performed in the Sixteenth Chapel for the Roman Pope several times. If anything, the power of gender balance lies with them, as they could leave the collaboration at any point. As I see it every major decision regarding takes and publishing was in their hands. As such, I would respect their decision. Notably, the singer and composer Hilde Norbakken, who wrote the original lyrics for the joint Too Close (Haaland, 2019) had the final saying in whether to publish or not since the adaptation into Khmer and Arabic langue was more an interpretation framing the meaning rather than exactly word by word. As composer I would like to believe that I do not collaborate with these vocalists because of their gender, but rather because of their skills as singers. During these artistic processes I cannot recall once an issue emerging due to gender. Granted there has been different opinions artistically which have been solved during the collaboration, but the underlining is a mutual respect regardless of gender.  

Editing a performance in the studio is not only an artistic decision, but also an ethical issue if altering the sound of a (traditional) musician or artist applying plug-ins like Autotune. In these settings I do not edit the original ornamentations and rather omit parts instead if it reflects badly on the artist. Following this it has been challenging sharing excerpts from my field log without potentially offending the involved persons. As everyone is named it is not possible to anonymise them.

I have collaborated with traditional musicians in new settings, where I do not play or arrange traditional music. Crediting the musicians and artists involved correctly avoids some of the aspects of musical appropriation, although scoring a traditional instrument in new music often meets resistance in the more conservative parts of traditional music societies, focusing on preservation rather than change. My approach is to respect and learn about each instrument through interaction in studio and live settings, but this has not been without challenges and mistakes. However, I am dependent on each musician guiding me in a dialogue in discussing how to solve challenges if we need to change or adjust melodic lines. Attending conferences in Southeast Asia over the last few years presenting papers, getting feedback and discussing with other scholars provides additional insight.

1.4 Studio and live sound

A studio is a creative workspace with social interaction and musical meetings, with a sometimes fetishized mystical atmosphere (Meintjes, 2003, pp.71-90).

Although the laptop studios have made knowledge and technology more accessible, I still feel the thrill of going into a bigger established studio with lots of technology or the atmosphere in a small studio in Kathmandu or Phnom Penh. Meeting a musician or artist in a studio for the first time is exiting and it is a strange intimacy that musical communication brings forwardafter only a short time. In rare occasions unique moments are captured in recordings.

Nowadays, the possibilities within music technology are endless in regard to manipulating sound with digital tools. Portable project studios (laptop) make it easy to work and record everywhere. Working with mostly acoustic instruments and vocals, my approach is more traditional in being true to the original sound of each instrument, as opposed to programming with digital plug-in instruments. This requires skilled performers who are able to adapt and collaborate across genres by integrating their individual sound into an ensemble. It is my responsibility to optimize the possibility for a good performance, whether in the studio or live.

Recording, as described by Zagorski-Thomas, is a production-based approach focusing on the creative process, rather than creative output (Zagorski-Thomas, 2014, p. 2), where comparing the recording studio and live music is as different as film is to theatre. Furthermore, the recording process is a negotiation between performance practice and recording practice, as an artificial staging of performances in a virtual environment (Frith & Zagorski-Thomas, 2012). Today’s contemporary producers, like Max Martin, need to be experts at all stages of a production: songwriting, arranging, programming, mixing and mastering. Hence, the producer has developed from a nexus (Howlett, 2009, 2012) to having prerequisite expert knowledge.

 Because I am involved in all the processes from composing to releasing through my own independent record label, I am the nexus juggling these roles, although not an expert in all of them. It is a strength that influences all the different parts of the process, but I must admit that at times I have lost focus on which role to apply when. Arguably, it is all part of musicking (Small, 1998), especially in live performances interacting with the musicians and audience.

The artistic research has resulted in two studio albums, one live album and a fourth album where I combine live and studio recording. These productions have provided me with hands-on experience, with a steep learning curve in problem solving. The tools and technical equipment currently used in the studio and live productions are mostly the same, with digital mixers and a wide range of plug-ins and hardware tools available, so why choose one over another?

As a musician working in an acoustically treated and soundproofed studio, unlimited redos open up for a more reflective and analytical approach in a controlled environment, with every instrument in individual rooms often recorded in layers. A live concert – whether recorded or not – is the spontaneous and immediate musical communication in a band or orchestra, creating an energy playing to and for an audience. Regardless of size, the feel of a stage is different than a soundproofed studio. Moreover, the stakes are higher when recording live, as there is only one take with little room for edits and redos. I inform the musicians and artists in advance that we will record the performance for documentation and make a recording out of it if it is good enough. As the rehearsal and finally the performance moves along, we tend to forget that the concert will be recorded. The mind-set is completely different, and it becomes just another gig that we want to do as best as possible.

Every microphone on stage picks up another instrument, which means that mixing in post-production also needs a different approach. For instance, in both live productions I used a grand piano with condenser mics and removed the cover since it blocked my sight to the orchestra. As musical director it was necessary to have eye contact with the conductor and other musicians to give cues on when to start, when to continue after solos and signal if something unexpected happens. This resulted in the piano mics picking up a lot of instruments in the background, particularly the drums so that every time we adjusted the level or equalizer in the piano track in studio, the entire mix changed.

The concert space – regardless of size – determines reverb reflections that create challenges, especially in bass frequencies and drums. This affects the sound from the stage, as well as what we on stage hear in the reflections from the concert hall. In addition, a good monitor sound balance of the instruments is important for the musicians in order to communicate and interact on stage with each other. All those aspects have a direct impact on the performance. Experienced musicians perform well even on a bad personal day, but may perform excellently in optimal settings. In the studio, you can always come back another day or change the musician, whereas in a live setting a band is no better than the weakest link. Being on a high technical and professional level enables the musicians to focus on the music and sound, rather than on any instrumental challenges. Even so, in live recordings smaller mistakes are accepted for the greater good; it is a compromise. I collaborate with musicians and artists who are comfortable in high-pressure settings. In my experience, eminent musicians sharpen and focus their musicality when challenged, instead of letting the fear of mistakes hold them back.

The virtual placement of instruments in the mix can be related to Moore’s soundbox, a three-dimensional visualization of the placements of instruments in a song: 

The soundbox provides a way of conceptualizing the textural space that a recording inhabits, by enabling us to literally hear recordings taking space. That space can be both metaphorical, if we are listening through headphones, or actual, if we are listening through speakers….it is a heuristic model of the way sound-source location works in recordings, acting as a virtual spatial “enclosure” for the mapping of sources (Moore, 2012, p. 30).

What does textural space mean in a recording process and studio setting? When composing, I visualize the textual space before it has been created, while as a musical director on stage or in the studio I collaborate with other musicians and artists to create it. As producer, when mixing and mastering I collaborate with sound engineers, working in a soundscape with numerous hardware and software tools to finalize the textural space in the creative output.

In the live recordings, every mic signal was split up with a stagebox, so the 64 tracks recorded with a laptop were unaffected by whatever changes were done with the live sound to the audience. Four mics in the hall recorded the ambience in the hall and from the audience.

The studio records were done by many layers recorded separately by me over a period of several years. At times, I focused more on the artistic performance than the sound quality of the audio files, therefore creating all types of challenges for the sound engineer Jon Marius Aareskiold (mixed A-ha, Molvær). In the end, we simply agreed that traffic noise from Phnom Penh in some of the vocal files of Ouch Savy had to be accepted as part of the soundscape. However, the control of instruments and vocals recorded separately allowed him to control the sound and edit each file towards a pop production aesthetic, with a harder compression overall and higher vocals.

The live albums had more headroom as acoustic performances, and each mic contained background noise from other instruments so that the entire mix needed constant attention when editing separate tracks. Sound engineer Eirik Mordal combines the role of a Front of House sound engineer live and as a studio engineer. This provides him with a wide experience and helps to prepare a live set-up that makes the studio edits manageable. As the main sound engineer for the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra (KSO), his approach is an acoustic approach closer to the ECM philosophy or more classical productions with headroom in the mix.

The final element after the mix involves mastering, which is a way of optimizing elements within the mix. Interestingly, many of the tools used are similar to those in a regular studio, but the approach is different in terms of focusing on optimizing one stereo file. Björn Engelmann at the Cutting Room Studio in Sweden has mastered all my albums and has an acoustic approach similar to Mordal, although he only uses analogue hands-on equipment. I have been present in the studio with Engelmann when he masters the albums. When describing his philosophy, he applies terms from nature when discussing changes in the mix, such as open up and let the music breathe, add warmth, make things more organic and add clarity.

1.5 Global sound

How does one conceptualise a global or globalized sound? Collaborating with traditional musicians and artists in other countries is in itself international, influencing the overall sound in my productions. On my last four albums, the same western musicians have played in the band, with the last two albums having the same musicians in the Arabic section of the orchestra. Repeated musical meetings have opened up for a deeper understanding and musical intentions by the group, developing a small global community avoiding the superficial use of “exotic” instruments (Taylor, 2007). Musicians and artists – each with their own signature sound – have articulated what I would describe as an overall global sound.  

The intercultural aspect of the project is the freedom to interpret melodic lines, write and perform lyrics in their own langue, as well as the interaction in the studio and concerts influencing the music. However, I do acknowledge that the power balance of the intercultural collaboration is in my court since it is my compositions. To what extent then is my work more cross-cultural than intercultural? In my opinion, the artists and musicians do more than just interpret my music: they develop and expand the soundscape, adding their personal musical signature through native lyrics ornamenting melodic lines and solos.

In many respects, World music is perceived by many festival organisers and scholars as an outdated term for a music genre. One example is how the term is perceived problematic in academic discourses about copyrights and credits (Taylor, 1997). Another example is how the Oslo World Music Festival changed the name to Oslo World in 2017. In a press release the festival argued that the term is oversimplified and does not describe the specific and diverse music reflected in the program (Oslo World, 2017). I am not comfortable using this term for my music. The music industry apparently has a hard time agreeing on standards in digital streaming (Nordgård, 2017), though technically sub-categories are easy to implement. This could be seen as another example of the eurocentric or americentric approach in the music business. Ethnomusicologist Stephen Feld describes his term schizophrenic music (Feld, 1994, p. 258) as music that contains parts from instruments, sounds and melodies detached from their original style, a reference to the World Music genre in general. This term further relates to my music, particularly in regard to the blend of genres. For example, Khmer lyrics and ornamentations are detached from their natural habitat in Cambodian culture and used in my songs.

The term musical appropriation (Feld, 1994, pp. 238-239) is defined as two-sided: On the one hand the fascination and respect for an artist’s work of music, while on the other the artist’s use of music that is not their own. It can be samples or traditional melodies credited as the artist’s own compositions. I do not use traditional melodies in my work. My approach towards working with non-European musicians and artists is to invite them to interpret my already-composed melody lines, and write lyrics of their own choosing. I invite musicians and artists with a background in traditional music to play together.

Why collaborate with traditional musicians at all? Is it not their job to preserve the music rather than dilute it through fusion projects? This argument I encounter at times from conservative ethnomusicologists or traditional music performers. I believe presenting traditional instruments and vocalists in other settings appeals to new audiences and should be viewed as promoting traditional elements. They are connecting the past with the present, raising an awareness of their own culture for younger audiences who typically are more open to fusion projects. Allowing traditional musicians to experiment is a necessity to move forward. A key element is preserving the ornamentations in crossover or fusion projects.

1.6 Aesthetics

My aesthetic values and approaches as a performer are heavily influenced by jazz, pop and classical music. As a pianist, my main inspiration is Keith Jarrett, Russell Ferrante (Yellowjackets) and Herbie Hancock, and as arranger and producer Vince Mendoza, Quincy Jones and David Foster. Grieg, Chopin and Debussy are some compositorial references. Working with Cuban music for a couple of years as a freelance musician opened my eyes to the Cuban clave and tumbao basslines used in my compositions, like the intro of “No More Tears” or the verse in “Dawara”. In more recent years, I have spent a lot of time listening to traditional and pop music from Asian and Arabic countries. All these different influences provide me with a broad spectrum view in which different musical genres are not separated, but instead elements in an intertwined sound.

My compositions are perceived as western in Southeast Asia and The Middle East, while in Europe they emphasize the non-western elements. Hence, the sound is perceived differently in each region. However, lyrics in a native tongue do connect with the local culture, whether it is Lebanon, Cambodia, Thailand or Malaysia. Listening to a vocalist singing in an unknown langue forces the listener to focus on both the sound of the voice itself and the signature sound of the artist. This is how I listen to every vocalist I collaborate with, as music itself is the language regardless of origin. As a pianist, I react musically to the sound of a voice rather than the lyrics, unlike many listeners (and vocalists) who emphasize the importance of the lyrical meaning.

As both Moore (2001) and Frith (1996) state, it is difficult to find common markers of aesthetic value, and even within each sub-culture or “fan base”, since the perception or “taste” are subjective. Hawkins (2002) links aesthetics more to ideology, a powerful mediator of subjectivity and collective our identities (Hawkins, 2002, p. 8). Conversely, Moore distinguishes between cognition and aesthetic value, in which the sound has to be cognized to create an internal value,

..until we cognize the sounds, until we have created an internal representation on the basis of their assimilation, we have no musical entity to care about, or to which give value (Moore, 2001, p. 17).

In contrast, Frith indicates that the value is socially given:

The problem is to decide the criteria of judgement. High art critics often write as if their terms of evaluation were purely aesthetic, but mass culture critics can ́t escape the fact that the bases for cultural evaluation are always social: What is at issue is the effect of a cultural product. Is it repressive or liberating? The aesthetic question – How does the text achieve its effects? – is secondary (Frith, 1983, p. 54f).

Nevertheless, Moore recognizes the aesthetic value in popular songs, made to resonate with the listener or a specific audience. Similarly, Hawkins makes a compelling argument for the role of production in Pop and Easy Listening:

Defined by its easy accessibility and entertainment quality, pop music is often dismissed on the grounds of its formal properties and transparent narratives. Yet the controlling function of the pop production that is “responsible for shaping the compositorial design” holds the clue to the intense pleasurable experiences people have. (Hawkins, 2011, p. xxvii)

In light of the above mentioned, my set of aesthetics include:

  1. Straightforward melodies, both for lyrics and instrumental themes, often found in pop.

  2. Complex harmony that emanate from jazz and classical traditions, involving, say, diminished dominant chords, voiced within a pop aesthetic aimed at more listener-friendly than provocative or disharmonic contrast.

  3. Harmony and reharmonization which is considered as more a frame for making melodic instrumental lines within the harmony than diatonically locked voicings.
  4. Scoring for western band musicians, string orchestra and Southeast Asian and Arabic traditional musicians combining arranging techniques from many cultures.

  5. Collaborations with singers who have a background in traditional music singing in their native language, connecting to their culture and ornamentations.
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