The Squid's Ear Magazine

Warpeha, Zosha : Silver Dawn (Relative Pitch)

A beautifully contemplative collection of vignettes performed on solo Hardanger d'amore, a sympathetic-stringed relative of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, from Brooklyn improviser and composer Zosha Warpeha, in 13 works of thoughtfully spacious playing utilizing the resonance and rich texture of the Hardanger fiddle, seemingly suspending time despite beguiling momentum.

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Zosha Warpeha-Hardanger d'amore, voice

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UPC: 5904224872687

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPRSS029
Squidco Product Code: 34699

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Spillway Sound, in West Hurley, New York. in June, 2023, by Eli Crews.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Zosha Warpeha's debut solo album Silver Dawn features her playing a Hardanger d'amore as well as some vocalisation. The Hardanger fiddle, originating in the Hardanger region of Norway in the mid-seventeeth century, is most closely associated historically with the viola d'amore, itself a baroque instrument, usually with six or seven played strings. Warpeha's hybrid instrument has five bowed strings plus five sympathetic strings resonating below the top ones.

From the outset we are reminded of Norwegian fiddle music, not just by the distinctive sound of the fiddle but in the way the pieces are structured. Zosha Warpeha studied Hardanger fiddle in Norway for two years and the pieces here, mainly slow and understated, seem to be informed in particular, not by the dance music, but by the lydarslåttar, or listening tunes, played during breaks between dancing, often poetic evocations of the natural world, including a strong element of improvisation and not bound by the regularity of dance rhythms. Warpeha has taken the structural characteristic of the older Norwegian fiddle music, where the melodic line is built from short repeated motifs, or cells, and used these as building blocks. This is quite different from the most other European styles of music, which tend to be built typically on four-bar phrases.

However, despite her indebtedness to these Nordic influences this record does not sound like Norwegian folk music. Having used that as a reference point, Zosha Warpeha, who lives in Brooklyn NY, has succeeded in producing a sound which is very much her own. While there can be darkness pervading Norwegian fiddle music, there is also a distinct romanticism to it, melancholic in tone but warm to the touch. Warpeha's music, by way of contrast, is meditative, cool, almost icy at times, but that is not to say it lacks beauty. On "When I am real" she sings at the same time as she plays, but there are no lyrics, only vocal tones embedded into the sound coming from the fiddle and when you are not expecting it there can be a double take as you wonder if you've heard a human voice or not, so close is the tone to that of the string being bowed below it.

While there is not a great deal of linear, melodic movement in the pieces, with often no more than a three-note phrase being used as the basis, there is plenty of tonal variety, vertical rather than linear richness, with contrasting sound textures being heard simultaneously. The fiddle is well suited to this through the technique of double-stopping and is a characteristic of the Norwegian fiddle tradition which has influenced Zosha Warpeha's playing. She also explores different bowing techniques and on "Hunter's moon" makes good use of the possibilities of spiccato, bouncing the bow on and off the strings, employed in different fiddle styles for a momentary effect but rarely as the central feature of a piece in the way it is here.

In utilising the cellular building blocks of the older Hardanger fiddle styles Warpeha has exposed the common ground that form shares with a much more modern aesthetic, minimalism. But to say she has taken a historic rural style and made it urban would be misleading, the music here being subtle, tender and frail, human and never systematic. "Of the mountain ash" is a good example. Beginning with long bowed phrases, a series of not quite repetitive plucked phrases then build over them, the voice enters chanting in harmony with the bowing and then the piece ends with the pizzicato, engagingly stumbling rhythm continuing alone.

A fine album which demonstrates a refreshingly different way in which elements of traditional music can be transformed and given a new voice."-Mike Adcock, Roots World

Get additional information at Roots World

Artist Biographies

"Zosha Warpeha is a composer-performer working in a meditative space at the intersection of contemporary improvisation and folk traditions. Using bowed stringed instruments alongside her own voice, her long-form compositions explore transformations of time and tonality. She performs primarily on Hardanger d'amore, a sympathetic-stringed instrument closely related to the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. Her current work is informed by the cyclical forms, rhythmic elasticity, and the physical momentum of Nordic folk music.

From Minnesota and currently based in Brooklyn, NY, she is active within folk and improvised music communities in the United States and abroad as a solo artist and collaborator. Notable performances have taken place at the Emanuel Vigeland Museum, Bern Jazz Festival, Drammen Sacred Music Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Vesterheim Museum, and Detroit Institute of Arts. She was commissioned in 2022 to compose and perform a full-length score for a movement piece by choreographer Erin Landers, titled of body of body of, which premiered at MOtiVE Brooklyn. Recent and ongoing collaborations include projects with percussionist Carlo Costa, ambient winds player Craig Schenker, instrument-builder Webb Crawford, and electro-acoustic ambient duo visible worlds. Warpeha's debut solo album Silver Dawn (Relative Pitch Records, 2024) has been lauded as a "breathtaking dialogue between Warpeha and her instrument; tradition and experimentation; community and place" (I Care if You Listen).

In 2019, Warpeha received the US Fulbright Award for artistic study in Norway. Her Fulbright project and subsequent master's project involved a practice-based study of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tradition and the development of a personal approach to solo performance through Nordic folk music and contemporary improvisation. Her work has also been supported by the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. She holds bachelor's degrees from the New School of Jazz & Contemporary Music and Eugene Lang College in New York City and a master's degree in Nordic folk music performance from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo."

-Zosha Warpeha Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Wakerobin 4:02

2. Larkspur 6:00

3. When I Am Real 3:38

4. Johannea 1:51

5. Flood Rising 1:41

6. Hunter's Moon 2:33

7. First Light 3:53

8. Of The Mountain Ash 4:02

9. Picadae 2:13

10. At River's Bend 3:19

11. Dreamt The Raven 3:07

12. Sisters Three 3:57

13. All Nearness Pauses 4:13

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Stringed Instruments
Unusual Vocal Forms
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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