“Between Music” Heads First Underwater Music Performance

Nanna Bech performing underwater in a Between Music's show.
Nanna Bech performing underwater in a Between Music's show.
Nanna Bech performing underwater in a Between Music’s show. Photo Credit: Charlotta de Miranda

There’s a new phenomenon in the music world: performing underwater. Although traditional instruments would be destroyed in these conditions and most musicians wouldn’t be able to hold their breath long enough to deliver a song, the Between Music band is far from ordinary.

The Danish group was inspired by artistic director Laila Skovmand’s curiosity in the kitchen. An urge to try singing with her head submerged in a bowl of water led to her testing a violin submerged as well. Skovmand then partnered with musician Robert Karlsson, who is now the band’s innovative director, to continue experimenting in swimming pools and eventually their trademark tanks.

Along the way, they have built their own unique instruments including:

  • Hydraulophone: Water organ
  • Crystallophone: Modified glass harmonica
  • Rotacorda: Six-string hurdy-gurdy that is played like a guitar
  • Violin: Specially made from carbon fiber to withstand being played underwater
  • Percussion: Specially-tuned instruments help give the bell plates, gongs, triangles, darboukha, and others a more predictable sound
  • Singing Bowls: Sturdier than glass bowls, these metal instruments have a harmonic sound underwater
Robert Karlsson performing underwater for Danish underwater music group
Robert Karlsson performing underwater for Danish underwater music group “Between Music.” Photo Credit: Jens Peter Engedal

Between Music’s goal is to create innovative performance concerts and explore the spaces between traditional genres, aesthetics, and skills. The group’s members want to explore how music can evolve underwater.

The band’s five underwater musicians perform while submerged in individual tanks. The musicians have been trained with yogis and deep-water divers to learn how to hold their breath long enough to play their instruments or sing underwater.

Their current creative work is called “Aquasonic.” The performance feels as though it comes from another time or another dimension. The women’s long ball gown dresses float hypnotically in the water while each instrument looks like it has been discovered in an old shipwreck. Lighting helps the audience feel as if they’re underwater as well. Altogether, every artistic element creates a performance that is sensual, fluid and a little bit eerie.

Aquasonic has been on tour since May 2016 and has played across Europe and in Russia, Australia, and Hong Kong. For 2019, they’re scheduled to perform in Germany, Denmark, Poland, and the Netherlands.

To watch one of the band’s performances click the video below: