Photo: © Bjarne Bergius Hermansen

SORTE NEGLE – for Solo Guitar (2023)

SORTE NEGLE is a solo piece for classical guitar and exaggeratedly long artificial nails.

Sorte Negle explores the essential role that the nails play for any guitarist. As a classical guitarist, your nails form an extended part of your instrument. Regardless of gender, well-kept nails are a prerequisite for being able to play accurately, form timbre and dynamics and add personality.  In Sorte Negle, the role of the nails is magnified applying exaggeratedly long artificial and painted nails to the instrumentalist.

In Danish, sorte negle refers to having dirty nails or having dirt under your nails. In this piece, the dirtyness of the nails are explored both sonically and performatively, where the nails become both an opponent and a partner in the work.

The use of long nails speaks into a current fashion phenomenon known as nail art, where more and more people, regardless of gender and class, decorate themselves with artificial, painted nails. But it also adds to a debate about gender and class, as nails have historically helped to reveal a person’s status in society: long nails have belonged to the upper class, since they make hard manual work (including quite ordinary tasks such as washing up, wash clothes, care for others etc.). Finally, long nails can also indicate aggressiveness: the ability to defend oneself, show claws, be ready to fight. These themes have served as an inspirational outset for the piece.

Sorte Negle was originally written for Jonas Egholm as part of the PR Talent prize 2023. The piece premiered October 12 2023 as part of a concert series hosted by The Esbjerg Ensemble. The piece was commisioned by DR P2 (The Danish National Radio) and KODA.