Growing up on a small island along the west coast of Norway, I spent a lot of time learning harmony by ear due to the lack of teachers. Theory came later. I studied composition and piano at former Agder Music Conservatory (now the University of Agder) back in the 1990s with the renowned Norwegian jazz pianist and composer Egil Kapstad. We shared an equal interest for complex harmonies and voicings from jazz, as well as classical composers like Ravel, Debussy and Chopin. Kapstad was an important mentor: first as a musician and later as a composer. After my studies I worked several years as a freelance musician, arranger and teacher. Still, I felt something was missing. An opportunity presented itself in 2006 to live for one year in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This stay sparked my interest in other cultures and changed my perspective into searching for an own artistic expression.

Accordingly, my aspiration has been to combine musical elements from Southeast Asian, The Middle East and Western cultures into new compositions.

Although I completed my master’s thesis in popular music performance in 2010, I continued with artistic practice in studio and live sessions in Cambodia, and in 2012 expanded on this in Thailand, Lebanon and Palestine, collaborating with traditional musicians in a new setting. Spending a considerable amount of time in different cultures over the years has had an impact on my mind-set and influenced my musical ideas. One of the challenges for this project has been to adapt and adjust when compositional ideas change collaborating with musicians and artists. Combining temperate- and micro tuned scaled instruments would be another challenge. In addition, in putting my analytical thoughts and evaluations into writing, I realised that the matter of tacit knowledge is demanding, since artists and musicians use music making rather than words to communicate. This is an important reason for my decision to publish the dissertation as a webpage. It is imperative that you as the reader can listen to audio examples alongside the text to fully understand and grasp the context.
The dissertation has been a part-time project over a timespan of six years: first as a PhD candidate from 2013, and then as a PhD research fellow with a grant since 2016.

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