Oodnadatta Who

Oodnadatta Who
an existential duo for one

for solo shakuhachi
by Anne Norman

Recorded by Al Future at The Chapel, Hobart, Tasmania

 

Duration: 5:29

Artist’s notes:

Oodnadatta Who features alternating and simultaneously sung and blown elements, everchanging metres, and fast polyphonic passages. A contemplative oasis of shifting timbres and portamento brings a moment of respite in the midst of playful hocketing rhythms filled with existential riddles. Sustained notes on shakuhachi and voice provide an opportunity to revel in microtonal interference, alluding to shifting mental states, shimmering mirages and the throbbing heat of a desert.

Elements of this piece began when camping in desert country on the Oodnadatta Track* in 2016. Experimenting with ideas for playing shakuhachi while singing, I jotted down a list of words that worked well for initiating and sustaining blown tones. Unintentionally, the piece began to ask impossible questions… Who knows where? Who knows how? Who, How, When?

Bemused by its ambiguous lyrics, I finished composing this piece in 2019. Then, after recording it in early 2020, unanticipated meanings emerged.
.
* The Oodnadatta track is an unsealed road passing through desert country in the north of South Australia. The name is derived from the Arrernte language, utnadata meaning “mulga blossom.” (Wikipedia)

Lyrics:

hu, hu, Who? hu, hu…
wee-ii-yuu, hu, hu, hu…
who, her, he
who, he, her
him, me, her
who, he, we
Hey!

hu tu, hu tu, du du?

Oo-d-na-dat-ta
Oodnadatta in the flow
as we go flying, trying,
in the flow, I don’t know
when to go flying,
crying, lying, sighing
…dying
Who to ask?

hu, hu, who?
who knows where?
who knows how?
Who, how, when?

Who?
who to, who to, who
du, du, du, du
Why?

Oodnadatta in the flow
as we go flying,
lying… I don’t
know when to go flying,
crying…
Why die trying?

du, Who?
du, du, du, du, When?
du, du, du, du, How?
du, du, du…
Who? How? When?

An existential tale ~ Oodnadatta Who?

I recorded Oodnadatta Who on a C shakuhachi in outer Hobart in January this year in the Chapel Studio, situated on what was once a quiet country road. While struggling with new techniques demanded by this crazy score (who wrote this!) my silences were invaded by passing trucks. On a second trip to Hobart in March, my re-take of the opening section was rather more aggressive than my first attempt. I was louder, punchier and perhaps a bit angrier. We recorded late at night this time to avoid the noisy trucks. I was tired but had to push through, as I was scheduled to leave Tassie soon.

For the preceding week I’d been insulated from the outside world in an artists’ bush-retreat composing, performing in a resonant cave and giving workshops in a forest with my music colleagues Emily and Yyan. By the time I hit the studio with recording engineer Al (Alistair), I was becoming aware of planet-wide shut-downs and rising deaths due to the corona virus pandemic. While increasingly bombarded by social media hype, I received a call from my agent’s teary receptionist announcing that all my gigs for the next few months were “postponed”… ’til when?

That was yesterday, and this morning, since my school gig was cancelled, I stayed at the studio and mixed Oodnadatta Who with Al, then made several unsuccessful attempts to cancel flights. Airline companies were in damage control with call-centres in the Philippines closed. I gave up and with the mixed sound-file uploaded to my phone, I walked to a park where a young girl and her father were flying a kite.

Bathed in warm sunlight, I now lie on lush green grass listening to our edit through headphones, hypnotised by a wedge-tailed eagle circling high overhead. Hearing my agro tones and abstract lyrics, my understanding of this work suddenly takes on a whole new meaning. It’s about COVID-19!

I don’t know when to go flying, crying…
Why die trying?

Whoa!
Elements of this piece began beside my campfire in a desert three and a half years ago. Experimenting with new ideas for playing shakuhachi while singing, I’d jotted down a list of words starting with H or Wh, as they worked well for initiating blown tones, and words that did not end in a consonant proved best for sustained notes. Unintentionally, the piece took on an existential air…

Who knows where? Who knows how? Who, How, When?

It is phenomenal how fluid and flexible the interpretation of a work can be, by both the performer and the listener – totally different every time.

Now lying on the grass listening to my new recording, trying not to worry about a gig-less future, questions about “what next” swirl through my head. Who to ask?

I recall a short poem I wrote while camped on the Oodnadatta track – vignettes of my desert experience, yet here in Tasmania “kites” and circling raptors still watch me from above, and the way ahead is rapidly dissolving.

 

whistling kites circle
dragons stand motionless
the road dissolves
Oodnadatta who?

 

This is the first recording of a difficult piece that I one day hope to fully master. Thankfully, two excellent musicians – Kuroda Reison (Tokyo) on a longer A shakuhachi and Katharine Rawdon (Lisbon) on silver flute – are also practising Oodnadatta Who. Hopefully I can persuade them to record — him, me, her… How will the piece evolve? How many different moods, timbres and “meanings” is it capable of eliciting? What do you hear I wonder? What is your existential tale?

Anne Norman, 17 March 2020

Music and texts © by Anne Norman

If you wish to support Anne Norman to compose new works and write up the back stories to her music adventures, please consider becoming a patron at her Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/AnneMNorman

An Australia Asia Foundation’s commission for the 15th Anniversary of Sonic Gallery (2004-2019)

MusicSafari 14: The Way of The Flower (Review)

THE WAY OF THE FLOWER

Primrose Potter Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre
27 February 2019

Review by Le Tuan Hung

The Way of The Flower featured a program of contemporary works for shakuhachi and koto. The concert opened and ended with two well-known 20th century compositions by Sawai Tadao: Flying Like a Bird (1985) and Song of the Waxing Moon (1979). Brandon Lee’s performance of Flying Like A Bird delivered a captivating experience: The sounds, the noises, the tone colours and the varied dynamics from the koto impressed listeners with an exquisite floating soundscape in the air.

After the opening piece, the program moved away from the Japanese heartland of the instruments to feature four 21st century works by non-Japanese composers: Rain Now and Then(2011) for shakuhachi solo, Far Below Me(2015/2019) for shakuhachi, spoken word, and bass koto, and Moon in Water (2018/2019) for shakuhachi and voice by Australian composer-performer Anne Norman, and I Thought About Eva (2018) for shakuhachi and koto by French composer Henri Algadafe.

Anne Norman performed her three original compositions with utmost mastery. Rain Now and Then showed a stream of beautiful melodies. Far Below Me incorporated alternating sections of spoken words and shakuhachi, supported by the deep and mellow sounds of the bass koto. In Moon in Water, the technique of incorporating voice while blowing the shakuhachi created a mesmerising experience: the voice within the music and the music within the voice. In both Far below Meand Moon in Water, the spoken or sung poetry brought an extra-dimension to the musical experience.

Henri Algadafe’s work with contrasting sections grown from five occurrences of a short motif provided an opportunity for both the shakuhachi and the koto to deliver brief but musically meaningful gestures interacting with each other to bring about a thoughtful outcome.

The program ended with Tadao’s Song of the Waxing Moon(1979) which was presented simultaneously with an ikebana demonstration by Shoso Shimbo. The juxtaposition of two elements made Tadao’s work the background music for the ikebana session. While one could appreciate the ikebana process in the musical atmosphere, it is more desirable for the audience to have the opportunity to listen to the musical work by itself as a way to honour Sawai Tadao. As most members of the audience had already seated 15-20 minutes before the concert, the ikebana session could have started then in silence. The sound of the scissors, the breaking of the branches and the footsteps of the ikebana master are the music of the flowers in itself.

For information about the artists and their works, please visit their websites:

Anne Norman

Brandon Lee

Shoso Shimbo

 

Music from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival

Music from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival

Tunnel Number Five is one of the underground oil storage tunnels created in Darwin during the World War II. At the depth of 15 meters, the 172 meter-long tunnel is a space of incredible resonance and acoustic qualities.

The Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music is an annual event that brings together professional independent musicians from across Australia to the Northern Territory to provoke the creation of new music in new combinations of artists.

This sonic exhibition presents live recordings of 3 performances from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music (from the digital album Up from the Deep)

Sea Sky

Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola)

 

“Music flows through the length of the tunnel, carrying performers and audience
alike. The spaciousness of Tunnel Number Five becomes a vital member of
the ensemble as Anne walks its length. Ernie, Netanela and Sarah met for the
first time in Tunnel Number Five, and like the ever changing elements of the
sea and sky, this music simply emerged, playful, powerful… magic”

Remember the Joy — Buŋgul

Sarah Hopkins (cello, overtone singing ); Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi (manikay ); Henk Rumbewas , Amanda Rumbewas, Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga, Anne Norman, Adrian Gurruwiwi , Netanela Mizrahi (choirchimes); Ernie Gruner, Cathy Dowden, harmonic whirlies.

 

Remember the Joy’ is a piece for cello, overtone singing, choirchimes &
harmonic whirlies composed by Sarah Hopkins in 1994, spontaneously joined
here by Guwanbal. Guwanbal’s song is derived from a small section of a Gälpu
song line, of which he is custodian. Usually sung in buŋgul (ceremonies), this
manikay is about Guwanbal’s totem Wititj, a rainbow serpent. Wititj lives at
the bottom of a waterhole in a place called Dhumara Garrimala belonging to
the Gälpu people. Bubbles rise up from the deep as Wititj sends its power into
the sky, initiating the formation of rainclouds. Thunder is heard a long way off,
then lightning comes and black clouds release their rain. After the rain, Wititj
releases more bubbles, and a rainbow appears.

Ŋurula — Wheeling Seagulls

Whirlies; manikay; shakuhachi; viola; violin; Biak song

 

 

Soaring up high, in the clouds, see the gentle dancing rain. Wheeling around
the tiny island of Ganalawurru, the seagulls of the Djambarrpuŋyu clan.
Seagulls roost on the tiny island of Ganalawurru, just off the north coast of
Elcho island. Guwanbal’s manikay of the Gälpu clan is beautifully supported
by the harmonic whirlies of Sarah, occasionally joined by Guyundula, strings,
shakuhachi and Henk’s rich voice singing: Awino oooh! Oh! Mother.

 

For more information about the festival, visit Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music

A selection of live recordings from the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music has been released on the digital album & CD Up from the Deep. Listen to all tracks from this album online at BandCamp.

All sounds and texts ©2017 by the artists
Remember the Joy ©1994-2017 by Sarah Hopkins

MusicSafari 9: Up from the Deep (Digital Album Review)

Up from the Deep


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up from the Deep is a compilation of selected live recordings from five concerts held in a World War II oil storage tunnel under Darwin (Australia) during the 2016 Tunnel Number Five Festival of Underground Music . This 2016 festival is a special event in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians from various musical paths gathered and made music together in a space deep in their shared land. The acoustic outcome is exquisitely beautiful.

Up From the Deep has 14 tracks featuring eight manikay (clan songs of the Yolngu people people in Northeastern Arnhem Land), two West Papua songs, and four instrumental pieces.

Aboriginal songmen Jason Guwanbal Gurruwiwi and Sebastian Guyundula Burarrawanga joined Sarah Hopkins (cello, harmonic whirlies, overtone singing), Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Ernie Gruner (violin), Anja Tait (violin), Netanela Mizrahi (viola), and Adrian Gurruwiwi (yidaki) to deliver the manikay. In six of these manikay, the instrumentalists created soundscapes that nurture the voice(s) and the meanings of the songs to enhance their beauty and to bring the musical experience to a deeper level.

A very special and moving moment happened when Guwanbal spontaneously sang a manikay “Look at the cloud formation rising up from Dhumara Garrimala” during the performance of Sarah Hopkins’ 1994 composition Remember the Joy. The pre-composed music and the manikay seem to blend into a magical whole.

The four instrumental pieces offer strikingly contrasting atmospheres. They were masterly created at the moment of performance in the tunnel. While Sea Sky (violin, viola, cello and shakuhachi) and Water Spirits (2 violins and viola) flow effortlessly along the soundscapes of the manikay , Dance! As the World Goes Mad! and Wartime Waltz are lively reminders of the resilience of Darwin during wartime.

Apart from the manikay and instrumental pieces, the earthy and heartfelt songs sung in Biak language (now officially replaced by Bahasa Indonesia in West Papua) performed by Henk Rumbewas added another dimension of sounds to musically enrich this compilation. Henk also briefly added his powerful voice in two of the manikay songs, Wheeling Seagulls and Green Sea Turtle, eliciting an excited response from the instrumentalists and the Yolngu songmen.

Up from the Deep is a special compilation that presents the musical traditions of Australia in a new perspective. Here, the artists met and created music spontaneously in a space deep within our land. Each artist draws from his/her musical experience to contribute to the process of music-making, bringing about magical moments in sound.

You can listen to all tracks of the album Up from the Deep at BandCamp.

Beneath the Surface

Beneath the Surface

Anne Norman: Shakuhachi
Anja Tait: violin
Emily Sheppard: violin

A collective improvisation recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia), and released in the CD Beneath the Surface (2016)

Duration: 6:46

Artist’s notes:

Emily and Anja first met just before the gig when this piece was born. They are both remarkable improvisers. All sorts of things were going on for each of us beneath the surface, and of course for each audience member too. Entering a resonant space deep under a hillside, and opening yourself to fall into the moment, into the sound waves… make way for magic to be born. Music created spontaneously is an expression of things that one is not conscious of, and completely unable to put into words at the time…

All sounds and texts text © 2016 by Anne Norman, Anja Tait,Emily Sheppard

Rain Now and Then

Rain Now and Then

Poem and music by Anne Norman

Anne Norman: Shakuhachi

Outside My Window (Poem)

Written in 2011 at home in Victoria, Australia to accompany Rain Now and Then, at the end of a very long drought.

Anne Norman: spoken voice

Duration: 1:21

Rain Now and Then

Anne Norman: Shakuhachi

Duration: 5:28

Composer’s notes:

In February 2011, I experienced sheer delight at watching rain gently fall on my thirsty garden… sensations I had forgotten. The rain came and went throughout the day as I played my shakuhachi by the window, jotting down melodic ideas and colours until it was complete.

Recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia), and released in the CD Beneath the Surface (2016)

All sounds and texts text © 2016 by Anne Norman

Dragon Dreaming

Dragon Dreaming

Anne Norman: Shakuhachi
Anja Tait: violin
David Matthews: field recording

Duration: 6:03

Artist’s notes:

On the northeast tip of Arnhem Land, where Macassans and Yolngu once traded, David recorded ocean swells surging in and out of air-filled caverns, pushing air through tiny nostrils in the bauxite. He called it “Breathing Planet” When amplified within the long tunnel, it sounds like a hung dragon asleep in its lair. Joining the dragon, Anne plays a traditional Zen meditation, Tamuke (Offering), accompanied by Anja’s violin. We respectfully acknowledge the Yolngu people for allowing David to explore that stretch of coast. This is our humble Offering in return.

Recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia), and released in the CD Beneath the Surface (2016)

All sounds and texts text © 2016 by Anne Norman, Anja Tait, David Matthews

MusicSafari 6: Beneath the Surface (CD Review)

Beneath the Surface (CD Review)
beneathsurface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beneath the Surface is Anne Norman’s recently released site-specific album of traditional works, new compositions and improvisations for solo shakuhachi and shakuhachi with violin(s). The CD features performances of Anne Norman (shakuhachi ), Emily Sheppard (violin) and Anja Tait (violin). As the name of the album indicates, all the music and spoken poetry on this album was recorded underground in the 172-meter-long Tunnel Number Five under Darwin (Australia). In this project, the tunnel, which was originally constructed in response to attacks by Japanese bombers during WW II, has become an underground concert venue and recording space. The fabulous acoustic of the site contributes a significant part to the projection and reflection of sound waves and in the way musical streams and layers are woven together to create the ultimate audio experience for listeners. Australian composer-performer Anne Norman, who spent many years studying shakuhachi in Japan, has brought a spirit of reconciliation to the tunnel to transform its original purpose and bring the little flute (the shakuhachi) and the giant flute (the tunnel) together to start a meaningful and daring adventure in sounds.

The music and poetry in the album flows effortlessly from the first to the last track to create a mesmerising journey which is rich in colours, pace and emotion. Anne Norman demonstrates her mastery of the shakuhachi as well as her in-depth understanding of the spirit of Japanese contemplative music in Sarus Cranes which opens the CD. Her exquisite rendering of traditional Japanese Zen music is heard again in Dragon Dreaming in which the traditional melody Tamuke is presented as an offering to the amazing sounds of ocean swells supported by a very sensitive violin accompaniment by Anja Tait.

Moving from the traditional sounds of Japan, the shakuhachi embarks on a journey across various horizons and boundaries. Original compositions for solo shakuhachi and improvisations with violin(s) provide a colourful feast of sounds.
The two original compositions for shakuhachi, Rain Now and Then and Whispered Shadows, are beautiful works. Rain Now and Then is a stream of delicate melodies born of a masterful control of breath. In Whispered Shadows, soft multi-phonic elements of the shakuhachi and voice come and go behind or in-between walking rhythms of recurring patterns, creating a surreal impression.

The improvisations, especially the live recordings on tracks 4, (Bouncing back), 10 (Have they gone yet?) and 17 (Beneath the Surface), reveal the exceptional power of collective and spontaneous creativity. Listeners are led through various landscapes of sounds and emotions by the magical sounds of the shakuhachi at play with the violin(s) through space. The last track, Beneath the Surface, is so rich in audio images that it sounds almost like an artistic cinematic soundtrack condensed into a timeline of less than 7 minutes.

The poems, written and recited by Anne Norman, add another dimension to the whole program. They generate atmospheres, add depth to the meaning of the music and lead listeners to the next aural world about to unfold.

This CD should be listened to as a whole (and on headphones) to experience the flow of music and emotions in a space that has been transformed into a higher purpose.

 

 

Listen to the whole CD at: Anne Norman’s Bandcamp Site

For the history of the Darwin World War II Tunnels: Darwin WW II Tunnels

The Sea that Connects

The Sea that Connects ご縁

For fipple flute, bell, didgeridoo, chant, beatbox by Breath Trio

Some view the sea as that which separates, but for centuries ocean wind and currents have borne many to meet on distant shores.

 

海に隔てられた世界
潮と風は何世紀にも渡り
遥か遠くまで人々の出会いを届けた

 

 

Breath Trio are Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Sanshi (didgeridoo), Reo Matsumoto (beatbox (voice percussion)). Breath plays music rooted in the moment: Intuitive music-making that builds evocative soundscapes and then bursts into rhythms that makes you want to get up and dance. Combining the haunting and meditative sounds of shakuhachi with the mesmeric and pulsing drone of the didj and the playful soundscapes of Reo’s mouth and breath.

These three players bring an incredible combination of talent, sounds and colours:

Anne conjures melodies that sing through the shakuhachi, inspired by the time and place, and the sounds offered by her musical partners;

Sanshi plays didjeridoo with a power and creative flare that combines rhythms of Arnhem land with street tribal;

Reo simply astounds with what he is able to create with his mouth. There is a synthesizer and drum-kit hiding in there somewhere!

The Sea that Connects was released on the CD Ocean Breath in 2013.

For more information about Breath and their music, visit: Breath Trio’s Homepage

Music and text copyright © 2013 by Breath Trio

 

Ocean Breath

Ocean Breath オーシャンブレス
For Shakuhachi, Didgeridoo and Beatbox by Breath Trio

Vast white dune
Wide blue sky
Shifting sands
Ocean breath

 

広大な
白い砂丘と
広く青い空
青い空
砂なびかせる
大洋の息吹

 

 

Breath Trio are Anne Norman (shakuhachi), Sanshi (didgeridoo), Reo Matsumoto (beatbox (voice percussion)). Breath plays music rooted in the moment: Intuitive music-making that builds evocative soundscapes and then bursts into rhythms that makes you want to get up and dance. Combining the haunting and meditative sounds of shakuhachi with the mesmeric and pulsing drone of the didj and the playful soundscapes of Reo’s mouth and breath.

These three players bring an incredible combination of talent, sounds and colours:

Anne conjures melodies that sing through the shakuhachi, inspired by the time and place, and the sounds offered by her musical partners;

Sanshi plays didjeridoo with a power and creative flare that combines rhythms of Arnhem land with street tribal;

Reo simply astounds with what he is able to create with his mouth. There is a synthesizer and drum-kit hiding in there somewhere!

Ocean Breath is the title piece of their CD released in 2013.

For more information about Breath and their music, visit: Breath Trio’s Homepage

Music and text copyright © 2013 by Breath Trio