My name is Anne Kirstine Eisensee and I am the singer and composer of Sjaruna songs. I am danish and educated as a singer in apprenticeship with mastersingers. I play Yayli Tanbur – a Turkish classical instrument that has quarternotes –  and Viola da Gamba – an early western classical instrument.

How the Sjaruna songs started

I started writing Sjaruna songs in 2013. They emerged out of  a long time of learning, listening and singing folk music and early church music. It was like ….I heard songs….. in my head…. I heard amazing melodic lines and could see the undiscovered potential for creating songs of another world. Because if one could combine all this old knowledge of singing and create something new, it would be mindblowingly beautiful. This was a very clear musical vision I had. When I improvised, a completely new combination of sound occured. I could trace elements to different styles and geographical regions in my singing, but in new combinations. This was a very exciting discovery.  Left was the work of composing and of course  – the question of the language:

The invented language of Sjaruna

Since there was no certain culture that I felt most connected to, I decided to create my own language for singing. This would liberate the songs from any particular cultural connotation. In the beginning it felt strange but slowly I started to feel an enormous freedom and creativity. I could suddenly focus entirely on the melodic and musical expression when I sang and composed. To add meaning to my songs I started to create underlying images; a specific place and a story that I would see in my inner eye and express in each particular song. But each word does not have a specific meaning. Over time I have developed love for certain sounds and combination that I like – just as a painter has for colours and texture. In that way the sound of the Sjaruna language gets it´s own character even though each song is different in melody, form, timbre and ornamentation.

The shrine of song-jewels

I have always been interested in all kinds of singing and fascinated by other cultures ways of using the voice and by the different sounds of languages. This passion has brought me to many countries, to learn from master-singers and develop my voice in different traditions. The worlds heritage of folksinging is enormous but unfortunately often neglected, because of the fast development of the modern world, busy with progress and centralizing. In folksong traditions you find extremely beautiful songs created specifically for a capella solo-singing. Sometimes with few instruments ore with a one-note-drone underneath. These songs have been developed and passed on from generation to generation. Over time they get a very distinct character connected to one specific country, region, village and even certain music-families. These songs focuses entirely on the melody and has no underlying harmonies. In similar way the medieval monks and nuns of the middle ages in Europe would sing long embellished compositions in unison – monophony. Also the classical music from the royal courts of the orient and the Byzantine traditions by the mediterranian sea, is entirely based on melody – this is called modal music.

There is something raw and honest in the expression of these folk songs. The classical may have a more angel-like polished timbre, but often both styles are richly ornamented,  equelibristic and also very well written in order to work without instrumental ore harmonic accompaniment. The folksongs and old classical music of the world is like a treasure shrine full of jewels and these jewels inspires me to sing and compose.

But the shrines are often well hidden and the jewels not always easy come. Learning to master these songs is a craft that demands a lot of practise, research and listening. Listening – not only to the singing – but also to the Instruments, because the singing of a particular region is often influenced by the sound of they instruments. Like in the Rhodope mountains of Bulgaria, where the bagpibe and the singer traditionally play together and the voice imitates the sound of the bagpibe. Ore in Sweden, where the kulning imitates the sound and melody of the flutes, that sherpherds use.

So much is still to be discovered, mastered and composed and performed – Welcome to my musical journey!