The legendary Icelandic icon, Björk, is set to bring her spectacular Cornucopia tour to the UK beginning on November 19th at the O2 Arena in London. As such, it is only fitting that the release of a new paperback edition of Björk’s 34 Scores should coincide with such an event.
The publication of 34 Scores’ first edition was announced by Björk in 2017 – an album of sheet music containing select works from her first album, Debut (1993), through to her then-latest, Vulnicura (2015), arranged for piano, organ, harpsichord or celeste. The arrangements present in this work were the product of a collaboration between the singer and Icelandic pianist, Jónas Sen, a former touring member of Björk’s band. From a harpsichord rendition of ‘Venus as a Boy’, effectively transporting the 90’s chill-out track into a baroque lounge contrasted by the expected ululating of a Björkian vocal line, all the way to a clarifying piano rendition of ‘Stonemilker’, reducing the electronic percussion backed string accompaniment present in the original and instead providing a vacillating rendition with dynamic fluctuations recontextualising the loss of love felt at the very core of Vulnicura.
34 Scores bases its individuality not solely on these arrangements, however. Upon opening the book to the first song, ‘All is Full of Love’, the reader is met with a new take on the traditional typeface of western notation, a design created by the art and design partners M/M Paris who have enjoyed a successful creative relationship with the singer for 19 years. Adopting the font specifically crafted for Björk’s 2011 album, Biophilia, the sheet music adopts a new vision of the shape of notes and the general markings around the staves, appearing as though they have been handwritten within the style. Delving into the use of colour within 34 Scores, M/M Paris utilises a dual-colour scheme of red and blue for the staves, bar lines and slurs.
In Björk’s own words: “I wanted to question how I felt about music documentation, when CDs were slowly becoming obsolete, 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 What is the difference of karaoke and the lyrical recitals of the 19th century? Can one meet at bonfires and sing techno songs? (well icelanders do obvs) 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”.
Björk’s 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste is out now in a new paperback edition for £19.99.
Björk: 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste
Björk Guðmundsdóttir is one of the key recording artists of the 21st century. Moving effortlessly between disciplines and genres so fluidly it would shame David Bowie, Björk has tackled neo-classical, showtunes, house, pop, indie as well as acting (winning best actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her turn in Dancer In The Dark) and creating a visual template for her work that is staggeringly rich.