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The Special Feature 1/2020 Editorial: Giving up absolute control can open new doors

​When we began to plan this Special Feature, our idea was to look at collective creativity, collaboration and communication in the field of music. None of us could imagine what the world would be like only a few months later, as we are ready to publish these articles.

In the last few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has upset people’s lives all over the world, and it has hit performing artists particularly hard, stripping them of their work and livelihood. In these unexpected circumstances, collective action and collaboration have acquired quite new dimensions. The articles in our Special Feature – most of which were written BC (Before Coronavirus) – have now taken on surprising meanings.

The key question in this Special Feature is: can things be done differently, together, through dialogue? We also ask whether the role of the solitary genius artist suits everyone or whether there are alternatives to it. And what happens when the co-author of a musical work is not another person but something else entirely (such as aerosols) or artificial intelligence?

It takes courage to open up your artistic visions – or tools, or practices – to other people. Making art requires not just a lot of skill but also a lot of personal emotion, and exposing that to others makes you vulnerable. It also takes courage to question well-established practices. And how many of us are truly willing to relinquish control, which may also mean giving up attained status and advantages?


Now that everyone has hunkered down due to the pandemic, digital arts experiences are more important than ever. This makes the Opera Beyond project launched by the Finnish National Opera and Ballet particularly relevant. Although the Opera Beyond events this spring have had to be cancelled, the ecosystem survives, and we will surely hear more about it soon. 

Collaborative composing initiatives have been put forward in Finland occasionally over the past decades, but the phenomenon is not common among Finnish composers of art music. In her article, Merja Hottinen discusses the problems and potential of collaborative composing.

There is a long history of visual artists and musicians working together. Sini Mononen explores how a dialogue with visual art can take music to new territory.

Saxophonist Jukka Perko has successfully transplanted ideas of jazz improvisation and communication to an everyday workplace environment. “The community, whatever it is, requires trust in order to implement bold decisions together,” he notes. Timo Alakotila, on the other hand, is the very model of a modern musician-composer, for whom collaboration with performers of different ages and from different backgrounds is a most natural way of expressing himself.


At the time of this writing, the thoughts of the FMQ staff are with all the performers, creators and operators in the music sector whose work has been devastated by the pandemic. Although many encounters and collaborations will now not happen, now more than ever it is a time for common, shared solutions, solidarity and dialogue, both within and between communities. Now more than ever we need the invigorating power of music and the musical community.

Losing absolute control does not mean losing the game. Abandoning self-evident truths may open up doors to new worlds. And collaboration does not diminish the importance of an individual artist’s work. Developing one’s own ideas in solitude is still a valid and needed pursuit, but it is not the only possible way of working.

Although people are separated from one another and borders are closing all around us, in music and art we do not need to isolate ourselves. Whatever the crisis, the music must not stop and will not stop – but it may well find new ways of going on.

Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Featured Photo: From the performance of the video work Heinä by Riikka Talvitie and Pipsa Lonka at the Silence Festival in 2018.