A work for voice, bass recorder and spoken text,
plus silent video (optional)
duration: 10:30 minutes
Stage setting: video screen central, performer with bass recorder slightly to the right. Vocalist in the back of the performance space to the side of the audience.
First performed at Rolston Hall, Banff, by Rosie Middleton/mezzo soprano and Pia Palme/bass recorder, spoken text, and recorded in the same space by the amazing Banff Centre recording team.
Rosie Middleton sings following timed cues, sketched instructions, she uses the text as cue and inspiration, plus there were some verbal instructions, otherwise she performs in an improvising mode. I perform with my bass recorder and voice simultaneously, using techniques that I have developed over the last years (no electronic processing involved). The text of the piece was written during the first days of my residence at Banff. It manifested at once, as a personal reaction to being on the land, being in the landscape; that is, it happened with the environment. It is not a text about something; it is a text with the land. I felt the strong presence of nature embracing me and communicating with me, at the same time I experienced a sense of being welcomed on the land, being part of the place. The Banff Centre stands on First Nation territory, and the location has been used for centuries as meeting place for indigenous communities. The music was developed during my residency at Banff, first as a solo performance for myself; listening to Rosie’s voice, I asked her if she would perform with me. Thanks to Rosie Middleton for joining in, it was a pleasure to perform with her! I met her during the residence, what a delight to find such an accomplished singer to collaborate with here at Banff.
More about Rosie Middleton at Rosiemiddleton.com
The silent video came last in the process of making this piece. I met this stately old tree on a hike along the valley, near Bow River. The river landscape and the magnificent plant-being perfectly embody the inspiration I felt for the text. Filming the structure of the bark, with its crevasses and cracks, I explore how I can directly and physically communicate with the tree. Moving (with) my camera, how can I approach a tree? I want to reach beyond the surface of the visible and touch the other being. From the compositional perspective, how can I listen to/into the tree? How can I physically meet an ancient plant, a tree as huge as this? My body seems so small, my camera is just a tiny gadget, in comparison. In filming, I think like a choreographer: filming is dancing with a partner. For me, the tree is a living partner in an exchange, rather than an object. Therefore, the video is not even a ‘film’ in the artistic sense. Instead, it visually documents – or more precisely notates – my encounter with another living being. I have chosen a mix of small movements and long periods of stillness for my camera choreography. When I hold the camera still, the subtle rhythmic movements of my breathing become visible.
Thus, compositionally, the video forms a silent counterpoint to the vocal and instrumental parts. It also functions as a scenic element. With myself as speaking instrumentalist in front and the singer at the far end of the room, the video screen in the stage back completes a triangular spatial setup.
More Radically She summons Spirit voices She summons Spirit voices She summons Spirit voices I summon you Crawl into my ears I may not speak your language But I hear your noise Beneath the surface of the visible As I listen And direct my ears Underneath the skin of the land Underneath my own skin Can you hear me, too? I’m not a nati-[vvvvvv]-e of this land yet feel at home here. Do we have a choice? Come here Mistresses of the forest! From the mountain tops From the riverbeds From the depths of cold lakes From the rocks From the cracks and crevices From the bogs and marshes and hot springs From the trees and from the earth beneath their roots From the bridges From the roads From the rotting carcasses of countless salmon Fertilising abundant growth From the clouds and the morning mist From the trains and cars From the souvenir shops, too Come, sly deceivers of innocent tourists! Do not corrupt our minds with cheap delusions, listen to me and come here! She summons you into her music She summons you into her noise She summons you into her mind She summons you into her body Come here Come here Come here And join her Ride her breath In a frenzy of sound and noise Dance in and out these openings Dance on these keys Dance with these fingers Dance on her tongue Dance in hidden formations inside this hollow pole Dance in her mind Dance in her heart Dance in her voice Assemble Settle down within this piece of wood Be as wild as you want Be as gentle as you want Roam this playground of Wood Metal Lips Fingers Flesh Blood Pain Bones Teeth Sinews Nails Brain Thoughts Passion Heat Longing Take me with you Spirits of noise To celebrate More radically From now on