Jeanne Artemis Strieder: Singing when it is not allowed to sing

Jeanne Artemis Strieder is a composer and artist.

The purpose of her work is to create solace and compassion for the invisible suffering of the many and the few. The results are individual aural bodies that seek connection with those who experience darkness.

The origins for her musical mind were found by her at an early age in the european modernism, the achievements of cultures outside of europe and the innovative forms of the underground music scenes.

Her music is performed around the world, in e.g. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, United Kingdom and USA.


What is your earliest musical memory that, in looking back, has proved to be significant regarding your career as a composer?

Growing up, art and especially music had always been my highest interest. However, any desire to express myself artistically was tried to be silenced. But like breathing, it’s not something one is able to give up on just like that. Music as the only form of consolation in hopeless times shaped my understanding of what music is.

Are there composers who have been influential or relevant regarding your own work? Has this changed over time?

After all, I wanted to become a composer because I miss the music I have in my head elsewhere. But discovering the music of the 2nd Viennese School as a teenage girl was like finding a home at last (not only musically). However, finding female composers was not at all easy, especially in the times before the internet. I vividly remember a TV documentary about Sofia Gubaidulina I saw around 1997 which was an euphoric event for me. I kept a list of female composers and added to it every time I came across a new name. It is still an effort even today, and there are many works by female composers that I have read about, but which have not been recorded until today.

How do you approach the question of “form” especially for longer works?

It’s different with every piece, but mostly it is an organic growth. Sometimes I write a piece from beginning to end, sometimes in layers, sometimes a bit more puzzle-like. However, I tend to have a form that I would call “narrative”.
I see music like telling a story through emotional response to things that surround us, good or bad. The haptics of a matter are not represented like a picture, but rather the feel of the fingertips touching it, and what kind of emotional response is caused.

I treat the voices in an ensemble as individuals or characters: Each instrument gets an individual sound treasure to express itself, and it responds to the others in its own ways. They may change and connect differently through the part of their journey we are following in a piece.

Would you mind speaking a little concerning your working process, i.e., do you have a regular schedule for writing; do you use a computer for composing (either for creating pre-composition materials or notation), if so, do you find that it inhibits your process? What other technology, if any, do you use?

I started out using pen and paper because I was extremely dissatisfied with the look of computer music engraving. But the time-saving aspect is undeniable. My solution was to learn how to create vector graphics and change the engraving rules in the software to my liking, to completely change the look of the computer notation. Although this process was completed many years ago, a new work may demand the creation of new symbols. I also use a digital drawing tablet, when more painterly indications are needed. My goal is always the most elegant notation, and I want my scores to look inviting.

Composing itself happens in my head, because that is the space where everything possible and impossible can be thought and heard! I often write down important components verbally, sometimes with little drawings in order to not forget ideas. But spending time in the head (instead of in front of paper or a computer screen) is most important.

Please describe a recent work and provide a link to an audio clip.

“for my being, I am” was written in 2019. Contrary to pieces like “obscured light”; it consists less of elaborate sound textures than of countless individual lines, which results from the theme of the piece: Singing when it is not allowed to sing. The title is taken from the “Women Anthem for Equality”.

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