In the Canopy: Meditations from Paparoa and Kapiti Island (Part 1)

In the Canopy: Meditations from Paparoa and Kapiti Island (Part 1)

Sarah Peebles, electroacoustic (2005; 2014 remix)

 

Composer’s notes:

In the Canopy was inspired by my experiences recording birds and bees in Aotearoa/New Zealand, by various people I met on my journeys there, and by sounds I encountered in Singapore and Canada en route to Aotearoa. A Māori concept shared with me by Gary Millan in Paraparaumu, across from Kapiti Island, especially resonated with my experiences gathering recorded sounds there: “That which is just beyond our perception,” an English translation of a concept within the Māori Ngā kete wānanga (Baskets of Knowledge). It reflects the essence of my experiences listening to birds and insects that were all around me, but seemingly invisible, and spending long, focused periods of time on the land while recording or simply being; taking time. The idea of pollinators became important to me, since historically many varieties of birds and only a handful of indigenous bee species were responsible for pollinating many of the flowering plants in Aotearoa. Those native bees are all solitary ground nesters, whose biology differs from the European honey bees and bumble bees later introduced from Europe. I began to wonder about that unique mix of indigenous pollinators, how it had come into being and how these native birds and bees and the plants that they’ve coevolved with have been affected since the first human presence in these islands.

 

In the Canopy is a 40-minute work in three parts and was commissioned by Radio New Zealand/Te Reo-Irirangi o Aotearoa for the programme “RPM” (produced by Matthew Leonard), with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts. Composed at Studio Excelo in Toronto, 2003-2005. Full 40-min initial mix posted at sonus.ca. Part 1 remix assisted by Darren Copeland and released on Delicate Paths – Music for Shô | たおやかな歩み 笙の音 (unsounds 42U, 2014) | Sarah Peebles with Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, Suba Sankaran. SOCAN for Canada / ASCAP for the World except Canada (Peebles)

Delicate Paths CD cover

About the artist:

Sarah Peebles is a Toronto-based American composer, improviser and installation artist. She gathers and transforms environmental and found sound for live performance, radio and multi-channel contexts, performs the shō (the Japanese mouth-organ), and creates habitat installations which prominently feature sound. Her distinctive approaches to shō improvisation and composition, which include acoustic and digitally processed performance, draw from gagaku (Japanese court orchestra music), microtonality and psychoacoustic phenomena of this unusual instrument. Peebles’ installation practice focuses on BioArt which explores the lives of native wild bees, pollination ecology and biodiversity. Her activities span Europe, North America, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia and include collaborations with a wide variety of musicians, writers and artists.

For more information on the artist, please visit her homepage: Sarah Peebles homepage

© 2014 by Sarah Peebles

Resinous Fold 2+4+3 (for Malachite, Bronze & Cerumen)

Resinous Fold 2+4+3 (for Malachite, Bronze & Cerumen)

Sarah Peebles, shō performance & composition (2014)

sarah peebles sho

Composer’s notes:

Resinous Fold 2+4+3 is a composed multi-track audio-work comprised of three solo shō improvisations I performed and recorded in collaboration with recording engineer Ted Phillips. The eight initial Resinous Fold shō solos explore traditional gagaku harmonies of the shō (Japanese mouth- organ) and create paths between what I think of as listening zones. Unlike the more widely known chordal drones which underpin melody in the main body of gagaku, Japanese court orchestra music, resinous fold solos shift between smaller tone clusters drawn from gagaku’s harmonic centres, and is inspired in its flow by gagaku tuning pieces known as chōshi (music for one or multiples of instruments).

Resinous Fold refers to the mixture of beeswax and resin which tunes and holds the shō’s metal reeds in place; each solo and multitrack work is dedicated to present or historic elements of the instrument, and is contemplative in its own unique way. Introduced to Japan from China between 710-794 AD, the shō is free-reed instrument whose elegant external design alludes to natural forms, yet hides an intricate technology within. Simple tones from individual pipes transform to rich, complex timbres as air flows through several metal reeds, travels up and out smoked bamboo pipes, and collides as it emerges from multiple points from its circular body. Sum and difference tones and interference patterns of sound emerge and create an immediate, mesmerizing sound which envelopes the surrounding space. In 2+4+3 the listening experience becomes a dance between instrument, player, performance space, microphone, recording engineer, loudspeaker, listening space, and listener. Each of the solos works was recorded at close range and from different angles in a relatively dry room. This up-close, dry sound is how I have usually experienced playing the shō in traditional cultural contexts in Japan. The intimate, dry sound reflects the instrument in its most intriguing context. I have further explored acoustic and psychoacoustic characteristics of the shō in layering the three stereo recordings, where the 14 respective pipes of the instrument appear in a different position of the stereo field in each recording.

This composed work reflects traditional practice where multiple shō perform a specific chōshi, overlapping one another in a round-like fashion, while exploring the effects of multiple recordings (of different improvised performances) within a loud- speaker and headphone listening context.

Solo improvisations recorded by Ted Phillips, April 2007 at Studio Excelo, Toronto; multi-track composed by Peebles March, 2014.

Released on Delicate Paths – Music for Shô | たおやかな歩み 笙の音 (unsounds 42U,2014) | Sarah Peebles with Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, Suba Sankaran. SOCAN for Canada / ASCAP for the World except Canada (Peebles)

About the artist:

Sarah Peebles is a Toronto-based American composer, improviser and installation artist. She gathers and transforms environmental and found sound for live performance, radio and multi-channel contexts, performs the shō (the Japanese mouth-organ), and creates habitat installations which prominently feature sound. Her distinctive approaches to shō improvisation and composition, which include acoustic and digitally processed performance, draw from gagaku (Japanese court orchestra music), microtonality and psychoacoustic phenomena of this unusual instrument. Peebles’ installation practice focuses on BioArt which explores the lives of native wild bees, pollination ecology and biodiversity. Her activities span Europe, North America, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia and include collaborations with a wide variety of musicians, writers and artists.

“In the 80s, while I was studying music composition in Japan, I was intrigued by the seemingly esoteric role some traditional musics played in contemporary Japanese society. I was given the opportunity to study the shô—the mouth-organ used in gagaku, ancient Japanese court orchestral music and dances—at a small Tokyo shrine, Sendagaya Ward’s Hatonomori Hachiman Jinja. Via this shrine I became familiar with basic gagaku repertoire and played for Shinto ceremonies, weddings and related functions, and also learned how to tune and repair the instrument. From that time onward I’ve explored improvising with, writing for and toying with the acoustic, amplified and reproduced sound of the shô. I’ve often wondered who thought up this remarkable work of nature-meets-technology—this instrument, so elegant and deceptively simple-looking, which sounds so ethereal. The answer, of course, isn’t really who, but by which paths the shô has come into being.

The shô, a free-reed instrument, was introduced to Japan from China between 710-794 AD, and is one of a large family of Asian mouth-organs developed before and since that period. It has traditionally been played in Japan as a part of gagaku for court, temple and shrine functions. Contemporary compositions and improvisation have become a part of its repertoire since the 1960s, and its arresting pipe-organ sound has drawn fans from around the world. Asian mouth- organs likely originated in what is now Laos more than 3,000 years ago. They reflect an intriguing, synergistic relationship between human beings and the habitats surrounding us. Since ancient times, mouth-organs have utilized the nest materials of wild stingless honey bees (such as genus Trigona in Laos): honey-making bees in tropical regions that are cousins of stinging honey bees (genus Apis). The stingless bees that forest peoples of the tropics have used throughout the world are social bees that gather plant resins and produce mixtures of secreted wax and these collected resins (as well as plant gums, oils and other substances), which the bees combine equally and use within their nest as construction material. Indigenous peoples have gathered these materials from wild nests for millennia—often boiling down components and mixing them in specific proportions—and applied them to mouth-organs in many ways, as well as to many other cultural items.

Ecology and human culture intersected in new ways as bee husbandry and agriculture progressed in ancient Asia. The mouth organ that became the shô utilized wax from managed bees—eventually from Japanese honey bees, Apis cerana japonica, a subspecies of the Asiatic honey bee—along with human-gathered resin, ground malachite, lead, bronze, lacquered wood, buffalo horn, silver, and smoke-cured bamboo from the hearths of old houses. It has changed little since arriving in Japan, except for the occasional experiment”—Sarah Peebles, Toronto, 2014

For more information on the artist, please visit her homepage: Sarah Peebles homepage

© 2014 by Sarah Peebles

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

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