We Are Only Breathing

 Premiere performance by Kalle Hakosalo at Pulsar Festival, the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen

Premiere performance by Kalle Hakosalo at Pulsar Festival, the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen


This work forms its subject on breathing. Each breath within the human body differs to some degree, depending on context, environment, mood etc. Here, a structure is built with resonance that will breathe around the performer. Phrases are to be shaped by breath inflections – meaning, pauses are to be thought of as a continuation of air either inward or outwards. In essence, we are nothing beyond the breath that we take in the presence of each moment in time, ever changing and unpredictable. We are only breath and movement within the air that we breathe. No human and no corner of the earth differs in this regard.

Only breath; poetry by Rumi

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.


The work is designed to encapsulate one instrument with the percussionist performing in the middle. To move adequately and aesthetically within the instrument, certain points of movement are scored into the piece through indicated of left (L) and right (R) hand choices. These must be followed in order to perform the instrument to its full capacity.



Performing a percussion setup involves a great deal of choreography and considerations of movement. When the movements blooms and sustains so does the sound. Equally, when movements are not taken into consideration, the sound is effected. Here, the work was greatly inspired by the vivacity of Copenhagen as autumn sighed into winter. In one day it felt as though the season of sun lingered on the air as intensely as possible, basking in the final moments before the next day became autumn. This transience and flow between states is the core focus of 'We Are Only Breathing' and has been considered to great depths when considering the score, building the instrument body and placing the percussionist within this during differing stages of the work. 


'We Are Only Breathing' was written for and premiered by Kalle Hakosalo - 12th March 2018 at the Royal Danish Academy of Music for Pulsar Festival


[Return to Projects]