Maja Ratkje. Voice as a sculpting sound. Contemporary Music from Norway

In Bologna everything can happen. Such as meeting a famous contemporary singer such as Maja Ratkje, that I had the chance to interview before her performance at Angelica Festival 2011. This interview wasn’t published by the magazine that had asked me to realise it, so I’ll publish it on the snowdrop’s garden blog to remember that Norway has a great Contemporary Musical tradition, even if today its Capital, Oslo, has been hurt by an horrible terrorism attack

I remember taking a very good ice-cream in the centre of Bologna with Maja. That day, the concert, remains one of my best memories of the year. I had just lost my grandmother.

If you wanna know more about Maja’s talent visit her website



FM: You’re one of the most known artists in Norway in the field of Contemporary Music. What is the aim of your vocal research? Everyone who listens to your music has a different perception…

MR: I felt I needed an immediate access to my own music idea. Try out and compose my esthetic using my own instrument, which is the voice. So I started when I met 3 other musicians, we’ve been playin since 1995, we come from different experience. So this is where I came out with my voice, through exploring the sounds of other instruments, and I became a professional singer. But I was always singing when I was little. I did a lot of things with my voice but I learnt to read notes studying classical violin, cause my father and grandfather used to play it. Contemporary music changed me, made me want to be a composer. I was supposed to enter in science and mathematics. I used to have a carrer in phisics. I loved it, it was interesting, but then I heard contemporary jazz got interested in electonic and  I put my heart in music. I wasn’t that good, so I moved to Oslo, where I could study composition, and had to make the entry to the Music School. I didn’t know anyone. I made it and was very happy, but the classes where too traditional anc classical at the time, for my research at least. In me I had other needs. so the school remained as a background. I spent two years to finish the exams and only got the first degree, I didn’t go any further. ANd so I started to work on musical boundaries. Working on the album voice… Instead of writing a symphony I’ve worked on the voice, with the orchestra and sound artists. Amazing work, very import album, and I still compose a lot, though i’m always improvising…

Always listen to new music, so inspiring for me be a part of this universe. I can also listen to old music in a new way, with a contemporary mind. It is so much about the abstract sound connected to emotion. I want to keep the ambiguity. or experiencing what I’m doing, even if it’ s aggressive if is a solo. You can’t just do beautiful things, you need coflict to make it intereting. I want to explore all the range of possibilities with my very flexible voice.


About Odile Milton

I travel through words whenever possible. Odile Milton is my signature on the web as I wanted an alter ego to indicate only my writings and works, not my personal life. Odile like the dancer in black swan, and Milton from the novel An old-fashioned girl. View all posts by Odile Milton

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