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Ivar Grydeland: Ensemble & Ensemble of Me

In this project Ivar Grydeland produces solo improvisations derived from the music of two improvising ensembles, to which he belongs: Dans les arbres and Huntsville.

Field of study: Artistic Research (Guitar/Improvisation)


The music is produced both live and in the studio. The project also includes performances and recordings with the ensembles.


From 2004/2005, Ivar Grydeland's main activity as an improvising musician has been carried out in the two bands Dans les arbres and Huntsville. Grydeland is interested in all the recurring elements in these two bands, and how similar (yet radically different) two concerts given by the same band may be.

The members of the bands have not talked much about the music; nor have they formulated in detail their methods within the bands. There is no carefully laid out master plan. Nevertheless, as Grydeland sees it, both bands appear to have developed their own sets of frameworks and guidelines. These are tacit, but judging by the recordings made during both bands’ existence, there are inter-subjective understandings of what these frames are, and effectively, what constitutes the sonic identities of the two bands.

The bands are improvising. In Grydeland's view, it is also as if they are performing new variations of previous improvisations, and previous pieces. In effect, these are pre-meditated, yet fluctuating, like Alexander Calder’s Hanging Mobiles translated into music. The elements may be known, but their mutual relationships are in constant flux. Each observation of the piece is reminiscent of another. As Grydeland puts it: "It is balancing between the known and the unknown, between playing ‘what I know and what I do not know’, looking at the same objects over and over again, from new angles, in new constellations."

Key Questions

  • What are the concepts when improvising with the ensembles and when improvising alone?
  • How do the ensemble improvisations inform the solo improvisations?
  • What does he think about when he thinks about the bands' and his own improvisations?


These matters are investigated through practice. Examples of such practice are live performances, rehearsals and recording sessions both solo, with the main ensembles, and with other relevant bands and constellations. Together with fellow researcher Morten Qvenild, Grydeland organizes a series of test concerts at the Norwegian Academy of Music called Jök & Seasick. This series is an important arena for systematic testing of both artistic material and technical tools (and their affordance), followed by discussions with the audience.

Grydeland organizes collective evaluations and discussions for Dans les arbre.


As a natural consequence of the practice-based orientation, the project produces artistic outcomes via Dans les arbres and Huntsville’s parallel artistic activity throughout the project period. Concerts with these ensembles are part of the project's artistic outcome. He also performs solo.


The full title of the project is Ensemble & Ensemble of Me – What I think About When I Think About Improvisation.

The project comprises the following parts:

The Artistic Result

The final artistic results of the project are as follows:

  • Concerts at NMH 21 and 22 April 2015. Watch the concerts here.
  • Album release with the band Huntsville. (Hubro/Grappa 2015)
  • A solo album release. (Hubro/Grappa 2015).

Written documentation

Grydeland's reflections on the research process are available in NMH's digital archive Brage.

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Published: Feb 3, 2015 — Last updated: Apr 23, 2024