Musical Haikus by Sebastian Wesman

Sebastian Wesman
Sebastian Wesman

Sebastian Wesman is a composer and filmmaker born in Argentina, but he is currently living in Estonia, where he produces his work. His works blend artistic expression with visuals. Although Wesman is a young artist, he has managed to release three albums  “Invento” (2006), “Astronomic Panoram” (2010),  and “Otros Parámetros” (2013) which was my first encounter with him. He has also made film projects “A Blue Bird” (2012), “Visual Poems” (2013) and directed a short film, “New World” (2014).

Sebastian Wesman has created a new concept called “musical haikus” in which he composes short music like poems and adds visuals to intensify the emotions created through these compositions. When I asked him how he came up with such an idea, he said, “The idea of “Visual Poems” (haikus in image) emerged from the pleasure of reading poetry.  I wanted to capture the poetic essence of image through emotional perception of everyday life in a city and transform it into small poems. It was like writing poems with the camera. I adopted the concept of haiku because it carries in itself centuries of synthesis of that which I wanted to convey with the image. The music that accompanies these poems was composed during the time of filming, so the image and the music were born at the same time – together. Most of the visual poems were filmed in public spaces in Tallinn, Estonia.

The album “Otros Parámetros” is a nice blend of music and visuals. Wesman’s violin is so in harmony with the nature’s sounds while experimenting at the borders of classical and contemporary music. According to Wesman ““Otros Parámetros” is definitely an album with certain intensity, interpreting the word ‘intensity’ as a sign of vital tension –inherent in something that is being born.” He goes on saying that “As explained in the prologue of the album, “Otros Parámetros” is an ensemble of pieces from different cinematographic projects done by my team and I. I think that without image, music takes on a different meaning. And this was the aim of the album.” There are 7 chapters and 12 songs in the album as if it were a book. When asked why, Wesman said that ““Otros Parámetros” is an album that unites compositions from the different films that I have made.  All of these have been re-mastered for the album. Many of the pieces were part of the audio-visual project “A Blue Bird” or composed for a string quartet like the piece “All the Winds”. Pieces on this album take on another sonorous perspective when separated from their visual side and altered in their expression by a new mastering. This is what interested me. One of the ideas that the concept parts from is the idea that the visual stimulus changes the perception of sound.”

Some of the songs in this album also appear in “A Blue Bird”, which is  both a musical and visual narrative where Wesman has caught a contemporary feeling within an ancient church and with a classical violin. The album was recorded in Kaarli Church in Talinn because of its wonderful acoustics having a 9 seconds of reverb. In one of the interviews while searching for information about this audio-visual work, I came across a very interesting sentence by Wesman saying that “Each stage of history oscillates at a frequency and a unique sound.” which I liked a lot. When I asked him how this was interpreted in this album, he said that “I think that every artistic work is born from its time and in some cases they reflect that which is yet to come. The audio-visual work “A Blue Bird” (2012) has had different meanings during the two years it has been flying. The music of “A Blue Bird” tries to represent in a chronological form the different sound frequencies that accompany our era. On the other hand, the idea with this project was also to try to create a timeless sonorous concept. The work process evolved from the complex to the simple, finally dissolving into the form of film, to minimalism in both the visual and the musical compositions. “A Blue Bird” was filmed in Kaarli cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia, a cathedral with diverse acoustics which allowed us to give a different form to each of the pieces.

One of the songs in this work is called “A Simple Present”, which, in my opinion, has a bit dark atmosphere and I wondered whether it has a connection with the times we are living in or not. The answer from Wesman was: “Without doubt the piece has some dark parts. But it is the darkness that comes before light.

The last chapter of this album is called “Sacrifice” which is another song that made me curious about why it is the last chapter and why it has to be called “Sacrifice”. Wesman wrote that ““Sacrifice” was composed for a theatrical piece that we were finally not able to bring to the scenes. In one part of this play, a symbolic sacrifice of one of the characters took place, from which this music was born. As the piece was originally for a choir, I made an adaption of it for violin and voice. At Kaarli cathedral, it was played on the balcony, in front of the organ. This place has a natural choral effect in the acoustic, something that I found to be very interesting.

The opening chapter’s name is also another point of curiosity for me: “Perfection is to forget the rules”. How perfectionist is he? “I try to bring perfectionism to as far as possible in my work, but the kind of perfectionism I thrive for doesn’t use comparison as a parameter. “Perfection is to Forget the Rules” came from seeing some children play. As one of the children forgot a rule of the game and made up his own interpretation of it, the game automatically changed its form. This is something that is very common in the games that children play. It seemed to me, that in that state of enthusiasm there was some kind of perfection.”

Sebastian Wesman has already started travelling into sound and visuals again.  The first project of 2014 is a short cinematographic work called “New World” which is a collaboration with the Estonian poetess Elo-Mall Toomet (Ellom), who will present the poem in voice and her presence. For this they have united different technicians,  a choir and wind instruments. “New World” is the first part of a trilogy that will be continued throughout the year. It was filmed with the first snow of the winter in Estonia which functions like a big, white, blank canvas where one can paint his or her emotions on it.

In my opinion, Sebastian Wesman is an experimental musician and filmmaker for whom poetry is a starting point from where he goes anywhere he likes – musically and visually. He is on a constant journey to explore the boundaries of classical music and films and the ways he can combine both. He is a promising artist that we will hear more often in the coming days.

I think there are as many different forms of listening and interpreting as each and every one of us is different and unique. My work has caused many different sensations, of which I find each and every one to be interesting. This allows the concept of the work to be in continuous development, redefining itself time after time. This is also what makes the work alive.”        

Sebastian Wesman

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