Ellen Fullman - Body Music


Ellen Fullman – Body Music

Ellen Fullman was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1957. Her career in music was launched at the age of one, when Elvis Presley kissed her hand. At thirteen, Ellen impersonated Jan is Joplin for her grade school talent show. In 1980, she performed "Streetwalker,' wearing her "Metal Skirt Sound Sculpture" in New Music America, Minneapolis. Soon after that, Ellen accidentally discovered the sound of longitudinally vibrating long strings. Since this time she has been in the process of developing a project which she calls 'The Long Siring Instrument," In 1985 an LP of this same title was produced by Met Apollohuis on Apollo Records in the Netherlands.   Fullman holds a BFA in Sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute. She was a 1986 recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and in 1989 and 1990, was awarded an NEA Visual Artists Fellowship in New Genres and an Initiative Artist’s Project Grant, A New Forms Regional Initiative project grant was awarded for the '91-'92 season for a collaboration with extended vocalist Tine Marsh She has presented her work in art spaces and museums in the U.S. and in Europe including. The Kitchen, The Clocktower, and P S. I22, NYC; The Walker Art Center. Minneapo­lis, The Center For Contemporary Music at Mills College, Oakland, L.A.C.E.. Los Angeles, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT; Kunsterhaus Bethenien, Berlin, ISCM Festival, Munich; Kunslverein, Slutlgart. and the Stedeiijk Museum, Amsterdam. From 1080-1989. a Meet The Composer “'Composer/Choreographer Project” Commission was awarded for a collaboration in Austin, Texas with choreographer Deborah Hay an "The Man Who Grew Common In Wisdom," a work in three ports. Fullman appears on The 1992 Poi Dog Pondering release "Volo Volo' on Columbia Records    She is currency teaching composition classes as well as leading sound meditations of her studio "The Candy Factory." She has created a stimulating and visually stunning environment For the "Long Siring Instrumental,' where collaborations with musicians and composers of various disciplines lake place A Meet The Composer Commission has been awarded to Fullman for future collaborations with the 'Deep listening Band.'


Daniele Massie was born in Ontario, Canada in 1962.   She first began ploying arid touring t with Ellen and her 'long strings' in 1987, The physicality of playing Such a large instrument and the overtones produced by it, allowed her lo experience the nature of the constancy of change in a stimulating new way-    influenced by the teachings of Deborah Hay and the work of Linda Montana, Massie began creating mytho-poetic works in the intimacy of non-traditional performance venues; "Mustaches and Cigarettes” (1988), "Mothers. A Dinner Party" (1989). And “'Cloud on Cloud -The Heaven Line" (1990). With collaborator Beverly Bajema she produced "Vacationing with Daniele and Beverly at the Heart of Texas Motel” (1989), "The Housecleaners: Part 1. The Clean Show, Part II. The Dirty Show” 1991}, and "Farm Girls" [1992). Her intention is to present intimate and memorable liberation works where hidden and invisible backgrounds are proudly brought forth by engaging audience members in sensual participation, she creates situations where viewers have a relationship with each other. Integrating the performance practice of returning to the moment, along with her careful attention lo visual imagery, sound and lighting textures, and the performance of daily-life movement as dance, she continues to create evocative, strangely familiar nourishment for all the senses.


Since joining Ellen in the spring of 1991, Scott Lehman has Found this work to be instrumental in his own search for wholeness. His joy in playing the 'long strings' comes from a synthesis of sensation that opens the door lo release and rediscovery, Lehman’s work with the gay and sero-positive communities has included "Male Homo-Erotica: The Fine line", o timely exhibition/performance exploring the vastness of the erotic experience, and "Rites/Rights of Healing", a process oriented series of seven performance rituals.   In using the symbolic/archetypal aspects of movement and gesture, performance continues to be, for Lehman, a tool for healing and meditation. As o gay artist presently living with HIV infection, he has learned to think of death not as an adversary, but rather as a wise and trusted ally. Perhaps the most important step in his personal journey has been learning how to let go. For Lehman, playing the 'long strings' is about change, the acceptance of death and 'letting go'.


Special thanks to: AERCO, Fletcher Clark and Music Umbrella of Austin, Chris Cowden and Women & Their Woprk, Glenn English, Victor and Peggy Fullman, Deborah Hay, Robert Kieser, Herb Levy, Tina Marsh, Daniele Massie, James McCartney, Elishia Meeker, Pill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Metis Policana, Helene and Paul Panhuysen, Donna Shepherd, Gail Wallet and Jean Vogel Zee


This recording is dedicated to the memory of: Dan Ambrust, Justin Fullman, Skip Fulton, John Hernandez, and Michael Schmucker


My interest in music began with the resonance of materials used in making sculpture. What stimu­lates me is to discover and expe­rience new sonic textures. I am compelled by the potential ex­isting in this project to shift my focus back and forth between the technical and the tactile. A turning point in the develop­ment of my work occurred in the summer of'91. With the support of an NBA Interarts Artists' Project Grant, for the first time I had a budget to rent a permanent space to work in. The security of hav­ing the installation in one place over a long period of time has allowed me more freedom to play open-endedly. Most of the record­ings on this CD are from the "22 Songs" performances in January '92. For the most part, the music represented here relies harmonically on the diatonic scale. Because of the prominence of overtone content, more com­plex harmony is suggested. Up to this point I had relied on experiencing this complexity as an observer. Nodes exist at specific points on strings. Because I work on such a monumental scale, moving from node to node requires that one actually walks some distance. By organizing locations of performers so that the    1>'
matrix of overtones goes through transformations sequentially, the effect of "twisting space" can be achieved. Most recently, in studying the relation­ ships in extended harmony, I realize that harmony is "dimensional."1 Ten years ago I began this project with the concept of "Sculpture as Music." At this time I have come full circle in conceiving of "Music as Sculpture."


Bass Song opens with an arm's length stroking back and forth across a node. Scott improvised a bass melody from a set of pitches. Daniele and I support this with a dynamically shifting drone.   I used a wooden paddle that I made to percussively stroke a "bar" chord.

Over and Under uses an 11th undertone mode melodically. The mandolin sounding plucking technique is achieved by wrapping a thread around a string and dragging it along it's length.

 Work for 4 is the earliest representation of my work. This was my first experience in writing a composition for   an ensemble.   I wanted to experience a "big" sound. This installation was 145 feet long, which allowed a deeper bass.   The sound is executed at the loudest volume throughout. The goal in performing and listening to this is to shift one's attention from the apparent constancy, and focus on the continual change occuring in the over­tones produced. The music flows, river-like, always moving, but superficially re­mains the same.
Space Between All three per­formers have access to a "bar" chord grouping of strings in the midrange, and to the bass funda­mental. Very close to where the strings terminate in the resona­tor, it is possible to produce a tone by plucking. Body Music is the pivotal move­ment which leads to my future work. The title refers to a re­minder I give to make use of the whole body. This opens with myself overdubbed, playing "bar" chords with the wooden paddle. In this piece, I devel­oped the ability, for the first time, to change which strings I am playing as I walk. The melodic potential exhibited in this sec­tion has led me to standardize the tuning layout so that the string positions can be memorized. Departure Daniele and I use a very physical sweeping stroke as we walk, alternating between two groupings of strings. A special coincidence occurred in which a train whistle blended with us, producing an exciting harmony. The experience of listening to this has lead to my present interest and study of extended harmony.
Ellen Fullman

1A major source of inspiration for me is James Tenny's interview:" A Traditon of Experimentation" and article: "John Cage and the Theory of Harmony," in Musicworks, Spring 1984.