Juhani Nuorvala: The Five Chords That Shook My World

July 13, 2022 / ISCM – FINNISH SECTION

Juhani Nuorvala (b. 1961) is a Finnish composer whose broad stylistic palette ranges from pop-influenced tunes and dance rhythms to gentle ambient soundscapes. Starting from the 2000s, Nuorvala has written most of his music in alternative tuning systems. He has composed chamber, orchestral, vocal, and electronic works. He has also created the music and sounds for several stage plays, and written an opera based on the life of Andy Warhol. Nuorvala teaches composition at the Sibelius Academy, Finland. His own teachers include Eero Hämeenniemi in Helsinki (MMus 1991), Tristan Murail in Paris, and David Del Tredici in New York (Fulbright Scholarship 1994-1994).

The Five Chords That Shook My World was originally written for pianist Nicolas Horvath’s Hommage à Philip Glass project. According to Nuorvela, “It is a fantasy meditation on the Train/Spaceship chords in Einstein on the Beach, the five-chord progression Fm-Db-A-B7-E. The roots of the first three of them form an augmented triad. According to music theorist Richard Cohn, these kinds of chord progressions and modulations, foreign to diatonic logic, evoke ‘the strange, magical and inscrutable.’ The very first chord of my piece, however, is from a composition I wrote in my student days.”

Juhani Nuorvala: The Five Chords That Shook My World (2020)
Emil Holmström, piano 
RUSK Festival, Pietarsaari, Finland
Schauman Hall, November 20, 2020
world premiere
video produced by Anna Madsen
audio produced by Elina Roms
YLE Radio YLE1