Tuomas Kettunen

Tuomas Kettunen (photo by taavi kiviranta)Tuomas Kettunen
University of Southern California


Tuomas Kettunen (b 1992) is a Finnish composer of contemporary classical, electronic and media music. He holds a B.M. in music composition from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where he has studied composition with Tapio Tuomela and is currently pursuing a Master of Music. At the moment Kettunen is residing in Los Angeles, California, where he is studying at USC Thornton School of Music during the Spring 2018 as a part of his Master’s degree. His teachers in composition and orchestration include Don Crockett, Sean Friar and Frank Tichelli. He has attended many international masterclasses in composition taught by Jukka Tiensuu, James Dillon, Giovanni Verrando, José María Sánchez-Verdú and Daniele Bravi.

In his music, Kettunen is exploring sound fusions, microtonality and possibilities of musical theatre and often quotes or comments other art forms and musical genres, surrounding society, human behavior and digitalization. His textures often grow from static and fragile moments to sudden energy bursts and deploy only small amount of material which is varied through looping and repetition. His works include pieces for full orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo instruments. He has written multiple songs for texts by Finnish poets and his piece Muukalainen (Stranger) to the text by Mika Waltari was featured at the final of the national Lied-composing competition. He has also collaborated with film directors, theatre artists and game developers in Helsinki, Finland, most recently in a documentary film “Liminaali & communitas” directed by Laura Rantanen (to be premiered in Spring 2018)

His music has been performed by many notable contemporary music ensembles and performers including Helsinki Chamber Choir, Avanti! Chamber orchestra, defunensemble, Kymi Sinfonietta, Ensemble POING, String Quartet from Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Veli Kujala, Gustav Djupsjöbacka, Mirja Mäkelä, Kirill Kozlovski and Atso Almila. He has received great reviews of his public performances and his music has been broadcasted multiple times by Finnish Broadcasting Company. He has also written a great number of arrangements for various ensembles and orchestras.

About the piece:

Quarter Patterns is a piece for two guitars, where instruments are tuned a quarter tone apart from each other. Original material for the piece was a microtonal harmonic progression created for another piece but which evolved to become a completely new piece. Quarter Patterns is based on repeating patterns on this harmony and the form develops gradually by alternating those patterns. One important aim for the composition was to create uncompromised microtonal music which would be relatively easy to approach for players; in the piece, each individual instrument is chromatic and notated in traditional way, but texture becomes microtonal when instruments are combined and all 24 tones of an octave are available throughout.

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