My first thought was “If I want to make this Prompts response a complete surrender, I will create a 3-5 minute soundscape, bring the scape and my cohorts to The Carrack, turn on the mics, and let it happen.” Then the part of me that has no intention of surrendering stepped in, and a less haphazard approach was settled upon. I will create a 3-5 minute soundscape, the cohorts and I will explore and play with the scape on our own, then get together the day before (Dec 10) to play with the scape. Friday evening, we will show up, turn on the mics, and let it happen. Whatever sound experience occurs in that room, the microphones will capture the event, which becomes a Nested Soundscape.
A Nested Soundscape is an artistic practice in undermining my own authority as creator in a particular circumstance. In the beginning, the soundscape is crafted by me in the cauldron of my studio. I spend hours listening for the song of the moment, the many melodies and harmonics swirling around in the cosmos. The circumstance is isolated and centered and very beautiful. Then I tap into a larger space, where I long for the tones I cannot hear or play. My cohorts arrive and fill in the spaces with their soulful elaborations on the original soundscape. The clip below is a very good example of this phenomenon from Spring 2015. Captured in the Sun(Ra) Room, this soundscape is called “Some kinda Waltz” and is a soundtrack for Jody Cassell’s solo dance work which will be featured as part of Tobacco Road Production’s Spring Showcase in March 2016.
I write about the Nested Soundscape alot in order to get it clear in my mind’s ear. Creating a Nested Soundscape is where “surrender” truly comes into play. Opening up the original scape to the ears and voices of other beings (by inviting cohorts to play within the soundscape) does ask for a small surrender. This is an embraceable surrender. I am happy to do it. But to then take the insular seed of our group interplay outside into some other acoustic space with all the sounds, ears and voices therein- that REQUIRES surrender, DEMANDS surrender. It is surrender or death. And even though these two choices feel somewhat the same to me, surrender carries the possibility of resurfacing. The potential for an alchemy where the constraints become a new kind of freedom. Surrender shakes some filters from your senses. So, my band of merry harmonics stirrers goes forth into unknown accoustic territory with big ears and open hearts.
If we are going to venture into this foreign arena, it is helpful to look for a location, a place; might as well call it a nest. We open up quantum doors as we expect the best out of our experience. We actively look for “hospitable ” environments like a space with interesting acoustics, deep listeners, a reverance for harmonics and the unexpected. Every articulated sound becomes a part of the Nested Soundscape. I invite audiences to engage with the scape in whatever way they are moved. So each space we play in becomes the home of this particular iteration of a soundscape. I set up a couple of Zoom H2n mics in surround sound capture and a Nested Soundscape happens!
So this Friday, Jim Kellough, Susanne Romey, Eleanor Ann Mills and I will set up a Nested Soundscape for Prompts. The four minute scape will be amplified through a stereo speaker located close to and facing away from the windows. The Carrack is an interesting acoustic space with wood floors, a full wall of windows and 2 brick walls. Bricks absorb and reflect sound. People absorb, glass reflects. I will position the microphones between the soundscape, the players and the larger group space. We will hear what happens a few days later, when I post the soundtrack on Soundcloud.
And here is the rub, I get to mix the whole thing together into the final sound of the scape, re-asserting my authority! Oh, well…