The first collection of sheet music from Björk, 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste, is set for release June 5 by Wise Publications. Inspired by her 2009 project ‘Biophilia‘, Björk set out to reimagine digital music notation for the current, music-sharing world — in hopes that people the world over would bring her music into their homes.
“I was curious about the difference of midi (digital notation) and classical notation and enthusiastic in blurring the lines and at which occasions and how one would share music in these new times,” says Björk. “What is the difference of karaoke and the lyrical recitals of the 19th century? Maybe I should share digital notation that people could connect to their synths or do harpsichord versions of electronic beats to enjoy in the living rooms and hopefully families singalong to.”
With longtime collaborator Jónas Sen, Björk gathered her string, choir, vocal and brass arrangements from through the years and began arranging them for keyboards.
“There are three levels to these keyboard arrangements,” says Sen. “In one we simply transcribed the songs from the original to the keyboard. In the next level we arranged them so they sound different from the originals, yet convincing for the keyboard instrument in question. On the third level the songs are radically different from the original, almost like they are new compositions.”
Björk asked M/M (Paris), the French design house who she has worked with for many years, to create a new font for the notes, in the same way they have for letters, which was then arranged by Notengrafik Berlin.
“We met Björk in 1998, she was compiling her videos into a monograph, ‘Volumen,’” says M/M (Paris). “She was also writing and composing Vespertine. At the turn of the second millenium, she was turning into a new character that once wore a swan dress at the Oscars. To celebrate its birth we created and designed a typography, ‘The Allegrette.’ Words written with this alphabet looked as if unraveled on a single thread from Björk’s mouth. It became instantly Björk’s Vespertine typographical voice. Since then she has commissioned us to design a typeface to accompany the birth of each of her new ‘musical characters.’ For Biophilia in 2007, one of her most ‘musicologist’ projects, we designed a typeface to be used by her exclusively for her music notation, the voice of her music language.”
Björk has been performing her arrangements all over the world this year — at Harpa Hall in Reykjavík and The Auditorio in Mexico City, and will play the Disney Hall in Los Angeles May 30 alongside her Björk Digital exhibition.