Björk has announced that she’ll be releasing a book of sheet music for songs spanning her whole career. Since her music itself is full of the likes of “micro-beats” and arpeggios performed by a singing tesla coil and other bespoke instruments like a “gravity harp” and throat sung emotionalism and Björk’s own singular voice, the idea of recreating her music in the comfort of one’s surely-not-gravity-harp equipped home sounds a bit like casually trying to homemake a spacecraft. But Björk is aware of that, and the just-shared details of her songbook speak to the daunting task of simplifying her music to be enjoyed by people without access to a 24-member choir.
The songbook itself is called 34 Scores for Piano, Organ, Harpsichord and Celeste, and though her songs have been simplified for your DIY enjoyment with the help of Björk’s longtime collaborator Jónas Sen, it seems like your DIY enjoyment would still be most attainable here if you happen to own a harpsichord or celeste. (But who doesn’t?)
Björk said in a statement on Facebook, highlighting some of the artistic/philosophical questions that led to the decision to release this career-spanning book:
i [wanted] to question how i felt about musical 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 in these new times . 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. 100 years ago most music was shared through scores , does that even apply to today ? and if so how ?
In the statement, she also details having worked with collaborators m/m to create a new font specifically for her musical notation — and to have created a program to allow other musicians to more easily create musical fonts that speak to the nature of their work. In the past, Björk has discussed the casual misogyny of people assuming she doesn’t arrange her own work — and solely crediting her male collaborators. In her Facebook post, she calls the focus on her own arrangements a “soft feminist stance.”
Here are the songs that’ll be featured in the book:
From Debut: “The Anchor Song” “Venus As A Boy”
From Post: “Cover Me” “Isobel”
From Homogenic: “Immature” “Joga” “Bachelorette” “Unravel”
From Selmasongs: “I’ve Seen It All” “New World”
From Vespertine: “Aurora” “Mother Heroic” “Pagan Poetry” “Sun In My Mouth”
From Medúlla: “Desired Constellation” “Oceania” “Pleasure Is All Mine” “Where is the Line”
From Drawing Restraint 9: “Gratitude”
From Volta: “Declare Independence” “The Dull Flame of Desire” “My Juvenile” “Pneumonia” “Vertebrae by Vertebrae”
From Vulnicura: “Atom Dance” “Notget” “Black Lake” “Stonemilker”
Wise Publications will release the book on June 5.