Open Eye Cafe May 16, 2015

Thanks to the generosity of TJ Goode, the idiosyncratic beats of dejacusse had another outing to the Open Eye Cafe. Susanne Romey joined me again on flutes, recorders, toy piano and percussion. The rest of the cohorts were unavailable, however, the WoW delivered Josh Zaslow on ACCORDION and guitar. So happy to have a reed instrument in the mix, as Eleanor has been providing that voice with her harmonicas, and I very much like that sound with my scapes. (Check Artist’s Statement page for more on the function of reed instruments in dejacusse’ soundscapes.)

We played three soundscapes, Big Stride, VollySunds, and Gone Won: life is a dream. Susanne has been working with this material for a while and she was really listening deeply into the soundscape and into the space. She came soaring in at moments, and was like a babbling brook at other moments. Josh was not at all familiar with the material, but he listened deeply into the space and was very skilled in “bending” the tone of the entire soundscape with the atonal harmonics of the accordion. There were wonderful moments throughout all three pieces. The three of us had interaction and solo time, and there was a beautiful flow to the whole thing. I particularly enjoyed when friend, Linda Carmichael, came up and scatted “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with me during Gone Won: life is a dream.

The first time we played here I recorded one of the soundscapes and was struck by the ways the environment impacted the soundscape. This became the idea for “nested soundscapes”. (Again, check Artist Statement page for more on “nested soundscapes”). This time, I came prepared to record with two Zoom H2n recorders on mic stands placed in different parts of the room. The mic placed furthest away was set to surround sound, so picked up more of the ambient sounds in the room along with the soundscape. I placed the second mic within a 6 foot radius of the players and set the recording to stereo. Both mics had low cut filters taking out extra low energy rumbling. The Zoom H2n digital recorders contain 4 small mics with adjustable ranges, so when surround sound is set, the Zoom is recording two stereo tracks, one a bit forward and one a bit back. Put these with the stereo track from the other mic, and I have three stereo files to set in relation to each other, thus creating the nested soundscape.

I plugged all three files into Audacity and listened to each one individually. The surround sound files were bigger and louder with more ambient noise, and some clipping. (Note for next time: I need to carefully adjust all the settings on the recorders ahead of time.) I tried panning the surround files to opposite sides of the mix, but that was too muddy even for me. Then I panned them both to the right, lowered the signals signifigantly, and added some room reverb. My thinking was to make the ambient sounds more far away and dreamlike. The effect is somewhat present here, but not as much as I want. So as you listen you will hear conversation, clinking glasses and thumps and bumps. Relax your ear and accept the entire entangled soundscape. These are excerpts from Big Stride and VollySunds. The last part of VollySunds is called Rowing Away. Caverna Magica fills with water, so we climb aboard our skiff and row away.

Nested Soundscapes

If you poke one of the hexagons in the top right corner of this page, you will find my ever-evolving artist’s statement. If you read my artist’s statement, you will see that one of the questions I am exploring in my sound work is:

How do I shape the audio experience in a roomful of people talking?

Some interesting developments around this question arose when we played at Open Eye Cafe last Saturday.

The intention when playing soundscapes is to massage the sonic space and to ultimately raise the vibration of all who are present. So far, the approach has been to create soundscapes with energetic movement that evolve slowly over time. Then Susanne and I add another layer of improvisational interaction. These interactions happen in the moment and serve to reinforce, contrast or re-shape the soundscape. I remix the soundscape as we go, creating more layers of sonic interplay.

This is what we brought to Open Eye on February 7, but I came home with so much more.

There was a moderate sized crowd there and people came and went during the three hours we played. I was very focused on the soundscape and Susanne, only giving the room a cursory amount of attention. The soundscape was a strong presence in the room as people chatted, ordered food, studied, etc. We played three soundscapes, each about 40 minutes to an hour. I had my Zoom recorder, and forgot to turn it on until the last soundscape, entitled The Space Between. And am I glad I did!

When I explained to Trudie the revelation I had after listening to the recording of this performance of The Space Between, she said, “You have been talking about that for months.” Ha! So true. But somehow it all came together when I heard it. This section of the soundscape is a soundpainting of a haiku by Basho:

Even in Kyoto
Hearing the cuckoo cry
I long for Kyoto

The recording begins with a wild cuckoo cry that is extended slightly by some voices of coffee shop patrons. Listen closely and you will hear a little “ohhhhhh” as the cuckoo cry ends. People in the room interacted with the soundscape almost seamlessly. They added an element of awe at the beautiful surprise of the cuckoo cry! So you will hear that moment right at the beginning, then the soundpainting of the haiku, and finally, the sound of heavy rain water accompanying the clanking of dishes and conversations taking place. Don’t try to hear the soundscape we are playing, instead listen to the whole recording as one soundscape that unfolds before your ears.

Listening to this recording made clear to me that the fullness of a soundscape is reached when interacting with activities in a space. Each space will be different acoustically, energetically,and the sounds in the space will be varied by type and quality. A new soundscape is generated with each performance in a particular space, creating a soundscape within a soundscape, or a “nested” soundscape. So now getting a good recording of each soundscape performance has become very important. (This must be why I have 3 mini-disc and 2 Zoom recorders.) Placing multiple recording devices around the space, will give me the raw material for creating the nested soundscape. This idea has me very excited thinking about the variety of venues and the types of soundscapes they might produce. (Photo Credit: Bill Romey)


the idiosyncratic beats of dejacusse@ Open Eye Cafe, Saturday, Feb 7

I am excited about an opportunity to play soundscape in a coffee shop in Carrboro NC next Saturday night. TJ Goode and empty sound were scheduled to play at the Open Eye Cafe on February 7th, and I was going! Then TJ said they couldn’t do it and did I want to? And I said “yes” because Rob Brezsny’s Leo horoscope said to “do things before you are ready”. I let the day seize me! Once I committed, I am up at 4 am working on ideas in Ableton Live. I have three hours to play, so I want to do something languid and calming with an underlying energy. I am really thinking about a sound painting that will evolve over time. And I know exactly what I want to play.

In the early 1980s one album, one sound held me rapt in wonder and that was the album Caverna Magica. Andreas Vollenweider’s whimsical, sensual, joyful journey deep into a magic cave was a whole world to me. Furtive and fun, Caverna Magica
begins with two people whispering and laughing as they enter a sea cave where you hear the bloup, bloup, bloup of water. This is a moist place. I want to play with a soundscape reminiscent of Vollenweider and Caverna Magica.

Luckliy, I have started a Live Set of Vollenweider sounds, including two mallets, one percussion, two chimes, some absolutely beautiful strings, and that plucked samisen that I love so much. There is alot to play with here. I have some simple themes in D Dorian mode and I can vocalize and play the bowed psaltry as well. I have written several solos for the mallets and strings that I am finding very heart-wrending. The pleasure of longing returns. Here is a sample of the strings and the samisen with a little bass and tweaked high-hat:

Suzanne Romey is going to play flute and toy piano with me. She has a new Balinese flute that she is wanting to try. So if you are in Carrboro Saturday night, stop by and give us a listen. We will be painting the room with sound.

8 pm to 11 pm

Open Eye Cafe
Carrboro, NC