I improvise with myself

Number: 
11
Artist: 
Soila Sariola

Improvisation can be described as a moment's play that creates a unique experience for the improviser and the audience alike. It results in a wonderful moment, previously unknown to all. Switch on your emotional channel and join my musical journeys!

All my improvised pieces came from different sources: I had melodic and rhythmical elements that served as the foundation for developing my ideas. In some pieces I improvised directly on tape and listened to how it sounded. To augment my music, I practiced improvisation, emotional state, image and vocal exercises during my singing lessons. This has required a lot of analysis and practising alone. Through that and through convincing myself my faith in my own music became stronger.

I sang, played, composed, wrote lyrics and arranged the improvisations alone. My aim was to develop as an individual and as a singer; I had been singing in different choirs and vocal ensembles all my life. I also wanted to selfishly decide everything in the recording and mixing phase. I wanted to play the piano, because it has been very close to my heart all my life.

Eero Grundström recorded the improvisations. Without his technical knowledge, encouragement, listening skills and tireless enthusiasm for experiments, my music would be very different.

Publishing year: 
2005
Recording year: 
2005

Recorded by Eero Grundström, mixed by Eero Grundström and Soila Sariola. Recorded at the studio of the Department of Folk Music, Sibelius Academy 2003-2004.

1. Mome

Comp. Soila Sariola.

The original title of Mome was Morning impro for a long time. It took shape during one morning session when I decided that well, the tape is rolling, let's try something no matter what the result. It is a unisono work and I wanted it to stay that way. Mome became a lamentation – I talk to my late grandmother who was very close to me. I used different kinds of image exercises when I improvised. The strongest was an image in which I remember the moment when I held my grandmother's cold hand at her deathbed. How can a hand be so cold?

Soila Sariola: vocals

2. Intro

Comp. Soila Sariola.

It all started when I sat at the piano and decided to try something extremely simple. Usually the piano accompaniment is pompous with complicated inversions. I played the key of C for a while and gradually started to add other notes. The thirds in major and minor scales started to annoy me and I ended up playing triads so that C always came alone while the second between F and G provided the beat. The time evolved into 6/8. Then I started talking to my piano soothingly in no-man's language. This was followed by the piano's answer D-E-F-G in upward progression after which I returned to C. After this upward progression, I soothed myself by singing a melody in a motherly style.

This is how Intro was born: I talk with my piano but simultaneously I talk to the listener about myself. The piano soothes and supports me in my tale. In the studio, I decided to double the motherly sections to create more warmth. As the piece progresses, there is variation in the harmony parts although they still describe the same person. The sounds that appear are a part of my own, many-dimensional contemplation.

Soila Sariola: vocals and piano

3. Where did the song come?

Comp. Soila Sariola.

There is a riff that has haunted me for quite a while. Although the piece got its final form with the piano, the rhythm and melody were so interesting vocally that I left the piano out. I first sang the riff consisting of a couple of bars as long as I could. It occurred to me, however, that I could compose an upward bass progression. I sang the loop for the time that the riffs lasted and, immediately after that, two harmony parts and named those tenors. I made an interesting observation about my voice range: without knowing it, I sang major As, and it wasn't even hard.

When we were listening to my recordings with Eero, I came up with a melody and wrote the lyrics there and then. It became a clearly flirting, slightly self-sufficient song about singing. The topic being so vocal in character, the choirgirls had to answer to the melody singer. Every time we listened to the completed takes, I invented new things for them. As a finishing touch, I sang a flirtatious lalalaa melody between the verses. Inspired by this, we added singers to the beginning who in a way entice the listeners to hear what the diva has to say.

Soila Sariola: vocals

4. Pen!

Comp. Soila Sariola.

I wanted to make something rhythmical and intensive. All started with the 7/8 drumbeat. The rhythm was punchy and captivating. Since there was only a little variation in the piece, I decided that the next sound had to be stable but sound like hammering.

Pau pau's came at once. Since nothing was written down, I had difficulty in trying to remember what kind of rests I had with the first pau pau's. Now I tried to improvise a harmony part of the same tonal quality without knowing from which note to begin and when. It felt like hurdles. I decided to bring some calmer ideas to contrast with the former and sang high-pitched, beautiful long lines, which created a new musical curve to my piece.

The piece now had something akin to two fighting enemies: stress and tranquillity. How could you bind these together? I needed a narrator. I chose a stooping-backed creature whose life is perfectly OK until the pau pau's start to harass him. A horrific fight ensues: the sounds, ringing in the ear and hacking, refuse to leave. Every now and then the creature hears only the beautiful upper melody and calms down…

Soila Sariola: vocals

5. Kielikeito

Comp. Soila Sariola, lyrics Kanteletar, trad.

Kielikeito is a result of piano improvisations in 1999. First it was called run ovulation since the sections in the piece have strange modulations, as if they were going in circles. I picked the words from Kanteletar. In my opinion, harping words suit the song: Sing, sing, you will die anyway one day and what shall we do then? The B part is intended to be lamenting and the C part furious in a matter-of-fact way.

Accompanying me in this piece was the hardest part since I have two overlapping times in it. We decided to record the piano first and the vocals after that. I sang the lead melodies with a raspy voice and hard suction.

Soila Sariola: vocals and piano

6. Jazz

Comp. Soila Sariola.

In Jazz, three tones amuse themselves and play Follow the leader. In brief, Jazz is talk. Jazz is a 'jazzier' improvisation.

Soila Sariola: vocals

7. Hoo!

Comp. Soila Sariola.

How would one feel singing in a Mordovian female choir? I had to try that, of course. I had no idea about the harmony parts, I just listened to breathing, trying to hit a note. Perhaps the micro-intervals created a sensual tone to the piece. Heavy, but soothing singing.

Soila Sariola: vocals