Living in the 'Amsterdamse School'

Designers HeyHeydeHaas approached us to create the soundtrack for this video, promoting the exhibition dedicated to the interior design of the Amsterdamse School architecture style at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Some thoughts we had on ‘translating’ the Amsterdamse School into music:

The Amsterdamse School did not have a clear pendant in music composition; in that era (1920-1930) the Dutch music scene was mostly still influenced by late-19th century composers like Mahler and Bruckner. But some Dutch composers, like Willem Pijper, were more outward-looking and open to influences of French composers, who in turn incorporated world music and jazz into their work. In this classical-meets-jazz idiom, we found a link with the director’s initial thought that a jazzy score might work well with the visuals.

But, like Amsterdamse School design, we felt the music should feel clearly ‘designed’ – composed, rather than improvised. Therefore we opted for ‘composed jazz’ piece with a clear-cut sound and used a lot of symmetry in both the composition and the production sound stage. The opening notes of Pijper’s Piano Sonata no. 1 (1930) are quoted in the opening theme. The bongo percussion (instead of a standard jazz drum kit) could be seen as a nod to the reference to primitive art, made frequently in Amsterdamse School decorations.


Design & direction: HeyHeydeHaas
Animation: Simon François
Music: Ivo Witteveen & Bastiaan Mulder
Guitars & double bass: Bastiaan Mulder
Percussion: Jeroen de Rijk