In the Company of Jupiter

In one week, Company Dance will be presenting SHOW, a five night art installation/soundscape/video/dance work with dozens of collaborators at The Fruit in Durham. Last summer, Company performed Modulations, a work that played with place and perception. The dancers, audience and accompaniests were in different locations connected by an audio-video feed. The dance was projected on the outside of the 21c Hotel and via live feed. The last night had everyone together in the 21c Ballroom. The dancers of Company performed under all of these circumstances with a different soundscape each night. This year, SHOW will play with visibility/invisiblity, illusion, deciding when to be seen and when to disappear all while in the midst of creating and recreating sound, movement, visuals. The event will unfold differently each night.

I am excited to be creating soundscapes for Company on three of the five nights. The evening will be in two parts. During the first part, the audience explores active performance sets throughout The Fruit, including the upstairs and the basement. The soundscape for this will be recycled sound from the audience moving around through the space. (Looking forward to looping THAT!) The second part is a newly choreographed work by Justin Tornow’s Company. The soundscape for this will be based on NASA recordings of electromagnetic activity from the planet Jupiter as processed and sonically explored by myself, and musicians Del Ward and John Osburn. I will sound the space Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, while Del plays on Sunday and John on Thursday night.

Come see or be seen at The Fruit July 11 – 15th at 8 pm.

TICKETS: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/15424

My Left Toe


About ten days ago I wrenched my left pinky toe. The toe was intact and not misshapen or out of alignment, but I knew this was more than a stub. After holding the foot for a few moments, I put on tennis shoes and went on with the day. Wearing shoes felt better than walking barefoot, and once I was back home, elevation and a little ice helped the swelling do its work with less pain. Trudie obtained some Arnica cream which I used liberally the first 48 hours. I limited weight-bearing and encouraged movement in the area. The upper foot and toes went through blue-purple bruising that is not quite gone. And the pinky joint is tender to walk on. I am thrilled that it is 95% healed, and am allowing a good long time for that last 5% to come through. This is when the area needs the most awareness and healing attention.

Being very interested in signs and signals from the WoW (Wave of Wonder) I decided to research this part of my body. First, from Functional Integration lessons with Nancy Agnew, I knew that my internal body map has a shadow around this area. I would marvel at how clearly I could feel my feet except for the vague hollow spot at my left pinky toe. So lesser conscious awareness in that area left it vulnerable to wrenching.

Reflexology charts associate shoulder and ear with the little toe. And the bladder meridian runs there as well. Interestingly, most reflexology charts show little action around the left pinky toe- it’s the right one where all the meridians and points converge. Maybe there isn’t much going on out there…

I don’t think that is the message. A WordPress blog suggested that the left little toe had to do with trust – trusting yourself, trusting the whole WoW, trusting other people. OK, now we are on to something! Actually a violent wrenching really messes with one’s trust! And this was relatively minor. And there is something about not paying attention to the most salient cues in situations. Not watching out and WHAM! Hmmmm, this is feeling familiar.

Trude and I are listening to Eckhart Tolle and practicing presence. This toe message is the present you sometimes get when you are not in the present! Ha!

Moogfest 2018

At the Moogfest Volunteer orientation, we learned that the festival has changed hands, and that Durham is invested in growing Moogfest. I am gladdened to hear this news, and hope that it will be one of a myriad of festivals supported by our civic community. Each year Moogfest moves in different and interesting directions, embracing new venues, and improving their internal protocols. At the same time – it is a business. I hope that the owners prosper (within reason) and grow the festival in responsive and inclusive ways. This year seemed to be moving in that direction.

There truly was something for everyone at Moogfest 2018! One could listen to magnetic frequencies, experience 360 degree sound, hear an original Theremin (built by Theremin himself and recovered from a NC fleamarket.), witness remarkable performances by legendary Midori Takada and Psychic TV, and hear local talent like hifilorau, Trandle, Maille Form at the Roundhaus Stage and The Fruit. Those who sprang for The Engineer pass got to build a cool new synth called a Subharmonicon, which I would love to play with as it focuses on my main interest – harmonics. And the many workshops ranged from the democratization of music to how bacteria talk to each other. I attended a fascinating presentation on representing data as sound, which is a new interest of mine. (I am involved in a project where I will be creating some type of sonification of chemical reactions in fermentation – more on that in the future.) I learned the difference between audification and sonification, which had been a source of confusion. Projects where the data generates the sound are called audification. Projects where the data is represented as sonic information are called sonifications. My desire is to sonify data, so I will be using the resources from this workshop in the near future!

Midori Takada is known for busting through the glass ceiling in 1980s Japanese electronic music with her album, Through The Looking Glass. In Fletcher Theatre, she began with a simple brass singing bowl, moved to an array of cymbals and drums, and played a long set on the marimba. She was amplified and used a delay on some sections of the marimba piece, but was mostly acoustic. She is a consummate performer and knows how to take the stage and hold attention. (A Facebook post inquired about what designer she was wearing. A beautifully sculpted costume.) Later that same evening, I heard Madame Gandhi at Motorco. She could be the fractal repeat of Midori Takada – percussionist, electronic musician, performer and feminist fashionista who connects with the audience while she holds our attention. Both are modes of performance, one more traditional and exclusive, the other exploratory and inclusive. It was intriguing to experience both in the same evening. I look to Madame Gandhi who articulates The Future is Female and whose work is a reclamation of femininity. This girl is one to listen to!

The first morning of Moogfest, I went to the Modular Marketplace to play! The new Moog Grandmother synth was calling my name. This is a semimodular keyboard synthesizer with some cool features of which I only scratched the surface. At the Novation booth, I had great fun with the Circuit and their Peak synth. I shared my experience of playing with the Launchpad ios app with a Novation rep, and requested a live loop feature. He said he would take it to the developers. This year the Marketplace relocated from the Power Plant Boiler Room to Bay 7 at American Tobacco Campus – great decision! – a playground needs wide open space! The Modular Marketplace is a highlight of the festival and is open to the public, no wristband required.

Micheal Stipe was back with another of his dance video projections. Thibault Dance was projected inside and outside the Snow Building on Main Street, tucked away in a sort of hallway. The dance projection was visible from outside the building, but the soundtrack (by Stipe) was only accessible from within. On the way home one night, I popped in there and was glad I did! The dancer explored the energy fields in and around his upper body with very little foot work except weight shifting and slight movements around the space. Gradually, he brought his lower body in more with leg lifts and kicks. Then it was over. I do not remember much about the soundtrack.

Susanne Ciani and Layne and several inidentified Berklee music students performed an original soundtrack for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. This event took place in the A3 360 Sound array in the Durham Armory. The soundtrack made the movie so much more interesting to watch and I was sorry I couldnt see the whole thing. I did manage to capture a most boring screen moment (written text to further the narrative) but you will get what I am saying about the soundscape.

I thought the sound at The Pinhook was stellar on Friday night when Katie Gately and Caterina Barbieri played fantastic sets there. Gately works with vocals and effects pedals, while Barbieri performed a full on Eurorack Modular Synth set. Barbieri’s style was to set up some nice arpeggiations and then mix them all up into a noisy mess before pulling out beautiful strands of sound once again. I enjoy that kind of movement in modular synth sets.

I blame the weather (which was rainy and overcast most of the weekend), but by Saturday afternoon I was done. Too tired to dance at The Fruit, which was a necessary disappointment. I spent Sunday working on the soundscape for Friday’s PROMPTS with Jody Cassell. (She has given me more meaty dialogue with her Mother. What they are processing is phenomenal.) Then we ended the weekend with iBoD’s traditional post-Moogfest soncert at The Bells. This soncert featured Eleanor Mills on the bells, Jim Kellough on digital horn, and Susanne Romey on flutes and recorders. I played the soundscapes, ukelele and psaltry. We had gorgeous weather, an appreciative audience and a generally lovely time stirring up the vibrations! I even managed a few minutes of a live Instagram feed till my phone fell over.

All of this to say, I am looking forward to Moogfest 2019!!

A Field 4 Bells

iBoD is back playing in the Sun(Ra) Room with a focus on improved recordings. In addition, we plan to play at the Central Park School Soundgarden on the Sunday evening after Moogfest, May 20. The last time we played there, the request came through for “more bells”. So, this year, the bells will be central to the evening’s soundscapes. So, more bells, y’all! per yer request.

In 2016, in preparation for playing soundscapes in the Soundgarden, I did a detailed analysis of the harmonics of the metal tanks and tank tops that we call “The Bells”. From this came the piece called Adrift in a Sea of Bells, which we played the first post-Moogfest soncert. The dissonance and consonance that The Bells throw out can be sculpted by the soundscape’s sonic character, and the additional frequency forms created by the cohorts. Here is an excerpt from that performance:

We will perform this piece again on May 20th, but I wanted to design a different piece for The Bells. Instead of a sea, we will sound out a large field. This idea was fun to develop- starting with a reexamination of the sonic data from my previous research (for more on this see https://wp.me/p5yJTY-ci ). Two ideas emerged – the field should be low, rumbly, percussive and – the tonailty should be shaped by the tones of the middle pole tanks and tops. These are the ones Eleanor focuses on when she “wakes up The Bells”. I have a recording of Eleanor performing this sonic ritual, so I loaded that clip into an audio channel in Ableton, and looped it. Then I started listening to voices in the Ableton stable. Then I layered in some tones and liked the sound of it!

The fundamental tones of the six tank tops and two short tanks available from the middle post are DEF#G#A. The intervals in this pentatonic scale are 5th, 4th, tritone and minor third. A scale beginning on C and including those intervals is CEbFGbG. In Hewitt’s Musical Scales of the World, this scale is close to the minor blues scale (if we throw in the Bb). Next step, play around with that. The scale patterns being offset by a step creates a tension that is held together by the one common note – the F#|Gb.

The voices and tonalities I choose to play under The Bells tend to be quite dark and heavy. The Bells have a cheery brightness of tone that calls for this buzzy darker undertone as counterpoint. The dissonant character of The Bells is a dominant feature of the soundscape. They go together in this sweet and lovely way. Both Adrift and A Field tug at my stomach and heart! The process is to analyze the sonic spectrum of The Bells and then listen for what goes with that – and this heart- heaving stuff comes out.

Listening to the interplay of bells and electronic voices, I hear the bells encouraging continuous movement. These two balance and catalyze each other! Unfortunately, I do not yet have the live sound equipment or knowledge to convey all of this sonic richness to the world when we perform live. To be heard, The Bells must resound when being played. Subtle gestures do not carry. Eleanor Mills, who is the master player of these bells, must pull alot of sound out of them to be heard when accompanied by iBoD. Ideally, I would mic the bells and all the players into a mixing board and out to three speakers. Perhaps, one year, a person of sound heartitude would step forth. Till then you are stuck with my meager amplification.

In spite of our less than ideal sound setup, we have made some lovely recordings at The Bells. Here is one of Gone Won: Life is a Dream from iBoD’s last soncert at The Bells in August 2017:

Then there is the question of how to audience iBoD?

“Well, we just pull up a chair and watch you, right? You’re going to put on a SHOW, right?”

Well, not exactly. Our ideal audience would probably stroll by, slowly, listening, sit on the steps, look at the sky. Or lie on the ground close by with eyes closed.

Actually, Catherine DeNueve of Beaver Pageant fame, embodied our ideal audience as she strung up a hammock or did walking meditation around the schoolyard. Reclining and strolling are the appropriate audience postures for our soncerts. We are not entertainers, and yet we bring a gift of great vibrancy in the form of these long form soundscapes which we will play for you on

Sunday May 20th

7 pm

Central Park School Soundgarden (on the hill behind Cocoa Cinnamon.)

I Met a Rapper

I just heard Doseone perform at the Ableton Loop Vocal Synthesis Panel. The whole panel was great, and Doseone put in an extraordinary performance. His lyrics are cosmic and thoughtful. Gonna be listening so somore Doseone! I love this song!

www.youtube.com/watch

Video Clip from Celebrate SITES

Here are some short excerpts from the two plus hour happening that occurred on February 16th at The Fruit in Durham NC. This was a fusion event with tremendous activity oscillating throughout the space! The first 30 seconds or so illustrate a section of the soundscape where all the sound and visual components came together in a “moment” on the video. The primary dancer is Jody Cassell. You hear her voice and her mother’s voice in the soundscape.

Appreciations to Bill Romey for the video capture. Appreciations to Jody Cassell, Stephanie Leathers, Kim Gray, The Bipeds, LICE and all the movers. Appreciations to Tim Walters and The Fruit for hosting the event.

The Next Step

The Fool card of the Rider-Waite Tarot* deck was always my favorite of the Major Arcana. The main figure is androgenous, has a devil-may-care attitude, and seems to be jauntily stepping off a cliff in spite of the little dog’s warning! (or is the dog chasing them off the cliff?) I love the Fool’s joyful and open-hearted posture while moving onward and upward into a literal leap of faith depicted on the card.

Being a fool was frowned upon in the circles in which I was raised. There was a strong sense of a right and a wrong way to do things, and one must always know what one is doing. I thought the adults around me knew what was going on and had it together. Uncovering that mythology is what growing up is all about! Now I understand and I forgive. We are all doing the best we can.

So the time has come to embrace My Fool. The part of me that is open to discovering a world of sound and vibrations. The part of me that is excited to share that with others. The part of me that is sad when so few engage with my work. The part of me that is going to do this anyway, whether anyone listens or not. The part of me that is like a “mad scientist” listening, thinking, creating, listening, shifting sonic shapes, listening some more. The part of me that trusts the process. The part of me that can wait and respond from the center of my being.

In searching for the Rider-Waite Fool, I found my second favorite Fool from The World of Playing Cards Tarot*:

This fool is androgenous to the point of jest! I, too, love playing music on the edge. And the little dog represents the gatekeepers barking sit down, be quiet, go home! Pay them no nevermind! (I need an outfit like this!)

Being on the edge and comfortable is the message of these cards. I mentioned the leap of faith the Rider-Waite Fool seems to be taking! The viewer of the image can’t see where The Fool’s left foot is going, and it seems it might go nowhere…but The Fool is now here. What appears to be a leap of faith may just be the next step!

*Illustration by Pamela Coleman Smith

*Illustration by Alison McDonald