Manipulations of nature: wood, metal, skin, tape and computer… is a project partially funded by the Research and Creative Activity Grant from the SUNY College at Oneonta.
The original artistic inspiration for this album of works is Bernie Krause’s book, The Great Animal Orchestra, in which the author hypothesizes that the true origins of all music can be found in nature. One can experience a symphony of sounds in nature if you listen to the wind blowing through layers of tree leaves, the water bubbling over unending formations of rocks, or the high-pitched tones of insects and birds. It is almost undeniable that these sounds were the first inspirations for humans organizing their own sounds into what we call music. The other significant and related inspirational element of this project (that Krause speaks in his book) is the truth that humans have completely altered the soundscape of even the most rural landscapes by simply being.
These extra-musical inspirations led me to reach out to collaborator/composers Michael Gatonska and Matt Sargent, and collaborators/composers/improvisers Andris Balins and Brett Masteller Warren, whose compositional/improvisational styles are often centered on creating ambient soundscapes rather than lyrical ‘melodies.’ My hope is to foster a lively collaboration between their styles and philosophies, and my interests as a performer to create an album of music that represents our collective perceptions of various aspects of nature played on percussion instruments. The manipulation mentioned in the title of this project refers to the intersection of man and nature, as my collaborators and I impose analog and digital manipulations onto the raw acoustic sounds in live performances, and in the recording processes. With each collaborator/composer/improviser, I will work with a different family of percussion instruments (woods, metals, skins/drums), and embracing different elements of nature as the primary inspiration for the work (water, wind, fire, etc.).
Andris Balins will be serving this project not only as collaborator/composer/improviser, but also as engineer, as all recording will take place at his studio, Dryhill Recording Studios, in Oneonta, NY. Although acoustic instruments will be played in a live setting and in the studio, and will often be manipulated with real-time digital processing, the recording will all be set directly to tape in the studio. This will result in an interesting culmination of acoustic and digital sounds in a final analog product. Additionally, one of the pieces on the album will utilize time lag accumulation. Time lag accumulation refers to a process that was developed in the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early 1960s, and was used by Steve Reich. The process involves two tape machines; the first recording on to the tape, then the tape travels to the second machine and the sound is then sent back to the first machine allowing an infinite amount of repeats of the program material. This method is open to modulation between the two tape machines, allowing for a variety of effects to be achieved. Using this audio processing method the composer and performer can create a piece that has very sustained layers, along with non-repeated audio. This project will use the time lag accumulator as a starting point for the piece, but will modify the method resulting in a recording unique to those that have used the method in the past.
Sounds coming soon…