MusicSafari 3: Ocean breath (CD Review)

Ocean Breath

by the Breath Trio (Anne Norman, shakuhachi ; Sanshi, didgeridoo ; and Reo Matsumoto, beatbox)

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Ocean Breath, released in 2013, features original works for a unique ensemble combining shakuhachi, didgeridoo and beatbox (voice percussion). The remarkable feature of this ensemble is that the shakuhachi is played by an Australian (Anne Norman) while the didgeridoo is play by a Japanese (Sanshi), and they both demonstrate the highest level of mastery of their instruments on the tracks of this CD. Both Anne and Sanshi have successfully taken the shakuhachi and the didgeridoo beyond their traditions to enter a new musical space that corresponds well with the contemporary world.

At times the shakuhachi produces haunting and meditative melodies that remind listeners of the Japanese tradition. At other times, it evokes extremely lively and rhythmic atmosphere that make listeners feel to dance along. The didgeridoo part is also remarkable. At times, it has the stable, lingering and timeless characteristics of Australian Aboriginal music, but at other times, it is intensively dynamic to drive the rhythm of the music. I particularly like the way Sanshi creates the drones on long notes which gradually change the intensity and shape to evoke the atmosphere of the music. When the long flows of the shakuhachi and/or the didgeridoo are combined with the amazing rich palette of beatbox sounds and noises, a set of works that are highly captivating are born.

While all the tracks are worth of repeated listening, I particularly love Tidal Drift, The Sea that Connects (with Anne playing the fipple flute instead of the shakuhachi) and Ocean Breath for their exquisite structural flow and balanced texture. I also like the atmosphere evoked in Through the Mist (a duet of shakuhachi and didgeridoo). I was deeply moved by The Tears of Pearl (for Shakuhachi and bell). The last piece, Bodhisattva Blessing, is a very beautiful composition featuring deep throat voice and harmonic voice, shakuhachi and bell.

You can listen to the whole CD online at: Anne Norman’s Bandcamp site

For more information about the Breath trio, visit their website: Breath Trio

A Song for Sky Bells by Le Tuan Hung

A Song for Sky Bells
by Le Tuan Hung

A new work for power pole bells, dan tranh (Vietnamese zither), Balinese suling (end-blown flute) and Oceanian panpipes

Duration: 9:56

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A Song for Sky Bells is a composition for power pole bells, Vietnamese zither dan tranh , Balinese flute suling , and Oceanian panpipes. Power pole bells are unique Australian instruments. They are galvanised iron caps made by the State Electricity Company of Victoria to fit on the top of electricity poles made from tree trunks of varying diameters. Their function was to protect the poles from the weather and for mounting insulators above the poles. Since 1996, Australian composer Anne Norman has been collecting these bells for use as musical instruments and components of sound sculptures.

When I first touched these bells, I had the impression that their richness of frequencies and harmonics was the result of years of absorbing waves of vibrations from the winds and electric cables under the Australian sky. This impression is musically realised by the interaction of sounds of the bells, the dan tranh and the wind instruments. Frequencies and pitches are transmitted from one instrument to another in the process of generating melodies and layers of music. A Song for Sky Bells is music generated from the power pole bells after years of absorbing sounds in silence.

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All sounds, images and texts copyright © 2004 by Le Tuan Hung

This project was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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Exhibition 17: Webs of Life by Dang Kim Hien

Webs of Life

(1996, revised 2012)

Music for an audio-visual realisation of the perception of life as presented in the painting Kiep Nguoi [Human Life] (1991) by Nguyen Van Doi.

Webs of Life by Nguyen Van Doi

Webs of Life by Nguyen Van Doi

Original music by Dang Kim Hien, except for fragments of melodies from Le Tuan Hung’s Scent of Time played on the shakuhachi [Japanese flute] by Anne Norman.

With Baby cries by Quoc Anh Tran (1996) and Buddhist chants by the monks of Quang Huong Gia Lam Temple (Vietnam)

Dang Kim Hien: dan tranh [zither], dan bau [monochord], dan nguyet [lute], trong com [rice drum], mo [woodblocks], phach tre [bamboo block], wooden clappers, rain stick, electronic crickets.
Le Tuan Hung: Ocarina, temple bell, wind chimes, rain stick, Helix wind roarer and field recordings.

Duration: 14:29

Composer’s notes:

Living as we do in this world, we are bound, or even trapped in many webs of life: webs of love and hate, webs of duties and ambitions, webs of ideals and desires. Is there a way out?

Kiếp Người (1996/2012)

Soạn cho một tác phẩm đa phương diện (nhiều âm thanh kết hợp với hình ảnh), sáng tác này chuyên chở ý niệm về cuộc sống được thể hiện qua bức tranh Kiếp Người của Nhạc sư Nguyễn Văn Đời: Suốt cuộc đời, ai ai trong chúng ta cũng vướng mắc vào những mạng lưới vô hình: Khi thì êm ái, nhẹ nhàng vướng vít như tơ tình, khi lại như những làn sóng điện mãnh liệt cuốn hút ta chạy theo tham vọng và lợi danh, hay là như những mắc xích kẽm gai nặng nề trói buộc ta vào trách nhiệm và bổn phận, lắm lúc lại như những dây độc rắn rít của thành kiến, ganh ghét và hận thù ăn sâu vào và hủy hoại tâm não ta. Những mạng lưới này âm thầm liên kết với nhau và bao trùm cả cuộc đời ta từ lúc sinh ra cho đến ngày xuôi tay nhắm mắt. Có mấy ai tìm được lối ra?

All sounds and texts  © 2012 by Dang Kim Hien

This work was released on the CD Melodia Nostalgica by Sonic Gallery in January 2013

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Exhibition 5: Driftwood Spear by Michael Livett and Anne Norman

Driftwood Spear

Music created by Michael Livett and Anne Norman

Michael Livett (Didjeridu)

Anne Norman (Shakuhachi)

This composition was released by AMN Productions on the Driftwood CD in 1996.

Copyright © 1996 by Michael Livett and Anne Norman