Thousand Year Dreaming / Floating World
Thousand Year Dreaming (1990) was commissioned by Essential Music and was written with the musicians on this recording, their particular strengths and inclinations, very much in mind. I am deeply grateful for the many rehearsals they carved out from packed schedules, during which the piece evolved. It grew out of an improvisatory piece, Nautilus, which Art Baron, N. Scott Robinson and I realised in 1989. We found that the sound of conch shell trumpets, didjeridu and frame drums really flowered in the resonant spaces we were using for the piece. On the way home from that performance, Art and I were musing about the possibilities of multiple didjeridus, and counting up the available players known to us in New York (about eight at that time). I started imagining the sonorities possible with four didjeridus, gongs, conches and trombones and frame drums, all shaped by the penetrating and sensuous edge of oboes and clarinets.
For me, the didjeridu is the sound of the earth’s core pulsing serenely, and expression of the life force. Images from the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, France, came to mind as being in some way connected with the resonant pulsing of the didjeridus; many of these images are projected onto walls behind the players during live performances. Dated from the Aurignacian Paleolithic era (c. 17,000 BC) they include not only the elegant images of animals which have become familiar to us, but also recurrent checkerboard and trident symbols which are still indecipherable to us. However, the awe and love with which they were created are vividly clear. Like sound, they also manifest the life force.
From discussions of Korean musical traditions with composer-performer Jin Hi Kim came ideas about cyclically unfolding structures, and the concept of the “living tone” - the individual tone not as steady state, nor as simply a bead on a chain of melody, but as a mobile, inflected event with its own life and impact.
Four sections emerged to which I gave the subtitles: breathing and dreaming; the Chi stirs; floating in mid-air; in full bloom. While most of the work is fully scored, it contains two improvisations: a duet for John Snyder (didjeridu) and N. Scott Robinson (frame drum), and a section for all four didjeridus. In performance, at this point the four players wander amongst the audience, exploring the space’s acoustics, playing into a listener’s shoulder here, a foot there—sonic massage.
When close to completing the piece I realised that its underlying, generative idea was the gradual awakening and release of sonic energy, energy which I think of as coiled and latent, in breathing and dreaming, but with an embedded power which will nourish when summoned.
floating world (1999) is an immersion in place and transience. I invited friends who work with environmental sounds themselves, and who have a strong sense of place, to make recordings for me in places of personal, spiritual significance to them, so it is a collaborative work. From their field recordings (edited but not processed), and other sounds I wove the slowly shifting texture forming floating world. It opens with the cry of a kea, New Zealand’s mountain parrot - a trickster, essence of wildness, space and the mountains I grew up in.
These are the places and the composers who recorded them, and I am
most grateful to them:
Shell Beach, Point Reyes, California, Maggi Payne
Chimayo, New Mexico, David Dunn
with Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy, Larry Austin
The New York Public Library Reading Room, Chris Mann
with Swallow Hollow, Georgia, Sorrel Hays
oak tree branches, wind, Sandia Crest, New Mexico, Steve Peters
with a sonogram of her jugular and Flathead Lake, Montana, Ruth Anderson
Patarau Beach, New Zealand (the microphone buried in gravel), John Cousins
with gannets, Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand, Philip Dadson
Peebles Island in the Mohawk River, New York, Warren Burt
with a canal spillway on the Delaware River, Yardley, Pennsylvania, Brenda Hutchinson
Each of these recordings captures a truly transitory series of moments—floating worlds—fixing them digitally, but temporarily. When played, they become transitory once more, and evaporate—a paradox I like very much.
Arthur Baron is a trombonist, multi-instrumentalist composer, and educator. He has performed with Duke Ellington, Elliott Sharp, James Taylor, BB King, Alvin Ailey, Stevie Wonder and Cab Calloway. He spent 2006 as a member of the Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions Band, touring Europe and the U.S.A.
Libby Van Cleve is recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary music for the oboe. She is author of Oboe Unbound: Contemporary Techniques and the co-author of the book and CD publication Composers’ Voices from Ives to Ellington.
Jon Gibson is a performer, composer and visual artist, performing his own music throughout the world since the 1960s. He is one of the original members of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and has performed with Terry Riley, Steve Reich and LaMonte Young, among many others, and with dancers such as Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Nancy Topf, Simone Forti and Nina Winthrop & Dancers.
JD Parran is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who has mastered a wide variety of woodwind instruments (from the familar tenor saxophone to the rarely heard alto clarinet, E-flat contrabass clarinet, bass saxophone and bamboo flute). He has appeared on more than 50 recordings over the last three decades, including collaborations with The Band, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Anthony Davis, Julius Hemphill, New Winds, Yoko Ono, Alan Silva and Stevie Wonder among many others.
Michael Pugliese, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo, studied with percussionist Jan Williams. There he also met and worked with Morton Feldman, Yvar Mikhashoff and Nils Vigeland. He was a core member of the Bowery Ensemble, a leading new music ensemble based New York during the 1980s. Pugliese died in November of 1997.
N. Scott Robinson is a percussionist whose diverse experience has led him to record and perform with the Benny Carter Big Band, the Paul Winter Consort, Glen Velez, Gerald Alston, Oxymora, R. Carlos Nakai, Malcolm Dalglish, and Marilyn Horne, among others. He has also composed and performed for dancers Claudia Gitelman, Don Redlich and Robert Benford.
John Snyder has been sporadically active in the field of avant-garde music since 1972, having concentrated on analog synthesizers and laser images. Since 1986 the didjeridu and the use of music and sound for healing have become the primary focus in his work.
Charles Wood is a composer, and designer and builder of new instruments and sound installations. Performances and exhibitions of his work include the Spoleto USA Festival, the Zurich Junifestwochen, the Aspekte Salzburg Festival, Southern Theatre, Minneapolis, Roulette, and Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival, New York. Since 1986 he has been co-Artistic Director of Essential Music, presenting new and neglected music from a movement which has its roots in the early 20th century avant-garde and the American experimental tradition.
Peter Zummo has been composing for ensemble since 1967, and for trombone since 1971. He has performed and recorded the work of composers David Behrman, Barbara Benary, Rhys Chatham, Nick Didkowsky, David First, Jon Gibson, Daniel Goode, William Hellerman, Annea Lockwood, Jackson MacLow, Phill Niblock, Larry Polansky, Elizabeth Swados, Yasunao Tone, Yoshi Wada.
Robert Bielecki, Recording Engineer
David Dunn, Digital Editing
Tom Hamilton, Mastering
Matt Schickele, CD Design
Thousand Year Dreaming © 1992 Annea Lockwood (BMI)
Originally released on ¿What Next? WN0010
floating world © 1999 Annea Lockwood (BMI)