When your eyes
pause on the ball
that hangs on the third branch from the sun

you remember why it got dark
and why it’s getting light again

the earth like the hearts
slopes in its seat
and like that it travels
along an elliptical path
drawn in the darkness

Unpolished Pearl
in the sky bright palm of hands
flickering sun flame

And then you remember
That you are yourself
You are a light bearer, a light bearer
receiving radiance from others
flickering sunrise

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Cette chanson est en réalité un enregistrement live capté lors de la résidence Biophilia à Manchester. En effet, Björk décide de retravailler Biophilia en septembre 2011, en remplaçant la version studio originale par cette version live.

Pages du manual

Présentation du titre dans l’application Biophilia

« Sjón wrote this poem which I really, really love and it’s called "solstice", chich is basically a christmas carol, and it’s sort of about the fact that the four seasons are because of the tilt of the earth. » — Björk

When Björk’s long-time collaborator and friend, Sjón, was asked by an icelandic newspaper to write a christmas poem he composed this celebration of light and seasons. The poem’s comparison to the solar system with a christmas tree inspired the song’s app : at the centre is a sun from which you pull rays of light to form a circular harp of strings plucked by orbiting planets ; title the screen and the image changes.

Björk plays solstice with a specially commissioned pendulum-harp which embodies the idea of gravity that was central to the song’s inspiration.

Analyse par Nikki Dibben

« I really like this idea of a bassline that works like a pendulum and that is kind of driven by gravity and sort of has regularity but is sort of irregular at the same time. » — Björk

In 1851 the french scientist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the earth on its axis using a pendulum : a metal bob swinging from a wire 67 metros in length traced a very slow rotation over the ground. While the pendulum seemed to change its path across the floor it was the floor that was changing due to the movement of the earth.

This was the first time the earth’s rotation had been demonstrated other than by observing the night sky. Pendulums also embody the link between natural oscillators and musical sounds : they change gravitational energy into movement, much like planetary orbits, but because the swing of the pendulum is slow we hear it as a rhythm rather than as pitch (frequency).

In solstice, Björk took the idea of a pendulum and transformed it into a musical instrument, commissioning scientists at the massachusetts institute of technology to build a device which could plat the harp part, the result was four pendulums which each pluck a round harp at the bottom of their pendulum swing.

Each harp can play any note of the song and notes are changed by rotating the harp so that a specific string can be plucked. The time between notes in the harp part is just over half a second which is too fast for a single pendulum to play so four interlocking pendulums are used instead.

The pendulum-harp played bu Björk embodies the theme of gravity at the heart the song and app : when a pendulum bob is moved, gravity exerts a restoring force, which, combined with the mass of the bob, causes it to swing back and forth about its resting pace.

Different lengths of wire produce different rate of swing, so the pendulum evokes the earth’s rotation about it’s own axis and about the sun, which together with the earth’s tilt gives us night and day and changing seasons — the song’s subject matter.

Björk likens interlocking pendulums to the relationships between basslines and melody in music.

« If there is an element in nature that is similar to counterpoint, it would be the effect of gravity on a pendulum, when you see and animation , like the one we found online of double pendulums, the way they interact is very similar to how melody and counterpoint work… Maybe that’s why I was attracted to pendulums, or maybe it could be just the simple thing that I’m trying to break out of the 4/4 (time signature) and the computer. » — Björk

Counterpoint is the term used to describe the relationship between tow or more voices or interments that share a same harmony but have different rhythm and contour. By using only voice and a single line played by the pendulum-harp Björk emphasises this linear dimension of music (from one note to the next in time) instead of its vertical relationships (notes which sound together).

The result in "solstice" is a sparse texture suggesting emptiness appropriate to the idea of planets orbiting a sun, and its melancholic mood is heightened by using the phrygian mode —a musical scale like the modern minor scale but in which the second degree is flattened, giving it a darker character.

Björk’s ideas about the way regularity can produce seeming irregularity are reflected in the structure of solstice. the song is made up of two alternating sections comprising four different musical phrases, repeats of each phrase are identical but the number of times phrases repeat is irregular.

Moreover, the song uses a regular unit of time, much like a metronome (another kind of pendulum), but has an irregular pulse due to a change of time signature from 7/4 to 6/4 : having sections which are 19 beats long (7-6-6) means that they can’t be equally divided and feel irregular — what Björk referred to above as her attempt to "break out of the 4/4 time signature."

So in the solstice song and app Björk connects gravity’s effects on the orbits of planets and the swing of pendulums with sounding musical structures.


Musique : Björk
Paroles : Sjón
Traduction en anglais par : David McDuff
Pendule : Zeena Parkins
Ingénieurs du son : David bracey et Curver
Mixage : Damian Taylor , Curver, Addi 800 et Björk
Production : Björk


Solstice (Current Value Remix) 06:33 Current Value

Versions utilisées dans les App

Solstice (Animation Version) 04:34 App
Solstice (Score Version) 04:31 App
Solstice (Vocal) 04:34 App
Solstice (Original Studio Version) 04:30 App


  • Addi 800
  • Sjón