Audio Excerpt from Third Friday Performance

While Jody Cassell moved the energies across the room, Shana Adams, Morgan Fleming and I sounded around her. The sound reflected and supported Jody’s movement. In this excerpt, Jody was reaching for lost conversations, while Shana sang the words from Megan Bostic’s piece I Lost The Conversation, and Morgan and I stretched tones. I wish I had a video of the movement Jody responded with during this piece. It was a most beautiful fusion of visions.

Third Friday Performance@Durham Arts Council   July 21st  7:15pm                          

Jan Ru Wan and Megan Bostic collaborated on the current DAG show entitled Reconstructing Existence: I Create Therefore I am which will run through August 12th at the Durham Arts Council. This coming Friday, July 21st, Jody Cassell will present a movement piece in response to their work. Jody will be accompanied by dejacusse’ new soundscape The Drone of Aggrievement along with improvisations by vocalist Shana Adams and Morgan Fleming on violin. The performance will run from 7:15 to 8ish.

The art that you will experience that evening arises from a deep grief that enveloped the artists following the loss of a parent. Jan Ru, Megan and Jody have discovered mediums, forms, textures, patterns and relationships through found and intermingled objects and movement to allow their grief a public expression. Each person’s journey with grief is a singularity that we can witness and resonate with. The graceful power of these expressions of grief invite the audience members to reflect on their own grieving.

This is the third collaboration for Jan Ru, Jody and I; and our second with Megan. The first was in 2013 in the Seimans Gallery at Durham Arts Council. Resolving the Disquiet was the raw stage of grief where the memories of the parent’s presence and the shock of their loss was felt. Then last October at VAE in Raleigh, Jan Ru Wan created Separation and in-between an installation that was about reflection and connections across time and space. Jody and I improvised movement and sound offerings for both of these exhibits. Here is a link to more about the VAE show:  http://wp.me/p5yJTY-fd

The DAC show focuses on a renewed existence through creativity. The grief remains but brings energy and muse in relation to “what is.” The show is beautifully curated and very sculptural.

For this exhibit, I was inspired to create a drone in a carnatic scale that begins on Bb. Bb is the tonal center of much of the natural world. Cricket and frog calls, cicada songs and other more drone-like nature sounds tend to resonate in B or Bb. The drone is made up of long tones from this scale in large interval relationships. The 11th Harmonic is worked in to help disrupt any stuck energy.  I chose voices that pull at the heart (woodwinds and strings) and created audio effect racks to destabilize and texturize the sound. Wind is a featured sound texture along with snipping scissors, keystrokes, and Jody’s voice reading bits of her performance piece  Walking to Nairobi.  Shana and Morgan will improvise along with and independently of the soundscape – all as accompaniment to Jody Cassell’s dance piece.

Please join us this Friday, July 21, at the Durham Arts Council DAG Gallery at 7:15 pm.

Tobacco Road Dance Productions: In Concert 2017

Very excited to once again be working on a soundscape for Tobacco Road Dance Production’s 2017 concert. Last year, Jody Cassell used iBoD‘s recording some kinda waltz for her Tobacco Road Dance performance I’mPossible. Jody both performed the piece and presented a dance film. This year I am working on a soundscape for Jade Poteat’s company.

A bit more about Tobacco Road Dance Productions: For the last three years, this company has brought together dancers and choreographers in a community process that is usually relegated to “the Academy”. This excerpt from their mission statement sums it up well:

Tobacco Road Dance Productions produces, supports, and encourages local dance in North Carolina’s Triangle region. Our annual concert provides area choreographers the opportunity to present their work in a fully produced and marketed performance. Each presenting choreographer works with a team of professionals to evaluate and improve their dance-making and writing skills. We provide networking and mentorship opportunities for emerging choreographers and dancers by involving established professionals in the adjudication and feedback process. Tobacco Road Dance Productions develops greater quality in local dance by engaging participants of all experience levels throughout the entire creative process. The presentation of a shared show creates performance opportunities that might otherwise reach beyond individuals’ financial and audience outreach capabilities and provides further incentive for young artists to remain in our growing artist community.

This is community alchemy – when we take what is right here, right now and create opportunities for as many artists as possible. Having witnessed much of the process last year through Jody’s involvement, it is an incredibly powerful and growthful experience. If you want to invest in the future – here is a good place to start: http://www.tobaccoroaddance.org

Unlike last year, I am coming into the process a bit later, attending my first rehearsal with Jade Poteat’s group in January. I met the dancers and witnessed what they have thus far created. I was inspired and impressed. They are working with the broad theme of “identity”. Jade’s dancers executed her choreography of movement tableaus of identity- with all the oddity, mimicry, earnestness and attitude that come with “identifying”.

We talked about soundscape, and Jade suggested each dancer have an identifying theme or motif. These could clash and harmonize and intermingle. And we agreed that the scape should move in and out of stretches of ambient silence. Jade had the idea of including the dancer’s voices in the soundscape. Part of the group’s process was to talk about dance, identity and what it all means to each of them. Jade recorded these interviews and gave me access to the interview files. I analyzed each dancer’s voice, locating the central tonality and common pitches within their inflection patterns. By isolating multiple moments of Dr. Diana Deutsch’s Speech-to-Song Illusion in each dancer’s voice (see http://wp.me/p4dp9b-e2  for an explanation of this phenomenon), I began sculpting a soundscape out of these lilting bits of speech. In order to capitalize on the melodic content, I created an Audio Effects rack that distorted the speech and amplified the harmonics.  The human voice is extremely personal, and a deep root of identity. Allowing their voices to be included in the soundtrack requires a great deal of vulnerability and self-acceptance on the part of the dancers.

Several weeks later, I have created a dozen sound sketches around Speech-to-Song Illusions in the dancer’s interviews. Some sketches have multiple voices as an underpinning, some have an individual voice as the harmonic and/or rhythmic driver of the sketch. Then I have interwoven some strings, piano, drums and vibes to create a melodic framework for the voices. Here are examples with multiple voices:

Here are sketches with one voice:

Jade has selected the sketches she wants to use and asked me to build some clear 8 count rhythms into a couple of them. And she has recorded herself and the dancers reading Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, which will end the piece. At tomorrow’s rehearsal we will record the soundtrack along with the dance to get the timings of the sound and silence.

Now we have a soundtrack for the dance. I am doing the final mix and mastering passes to the audio. (Interestingly, the opening of the piece is a pulsating current of the dancers’ processed voices, while the end is their distinct voices articulating the poem.) So excited to hear this piece filling the theatre while the dancers execute Jade’s evocative choreography.  Please come see/hear I am Deliberate – part of Tobacco Road Dance Productions: In Concert 2017.

Separation and in-between – Jan-Ru Wan @ Visual Arts Exchange

Photo by Jan-Ru Wan

Several years ago, Jody Cassell and I performed a sound and movement work at the opening of Jan-Ru Wan’s collaborative installation entitled Resolving the Disquiet at the Durham Arts Council. Jody and Jan-Ru had connected over their mutual grieving around the deaths of their respective fathers. Grief was the focus of the exhibit that featured visual and performance work by two other artists, as well. In a recent email exchange Jan-Ru said that what motivated her to focus on grief in her art was the way Western culture encourages hidden grieving. Both Jody and Jan-Ru have connected with a public that is crying out to come together in a shared grieving process.

This weekend at Raleigh’s First Friday event, we will once again collaborate in a new exhibit Separation and in-between, which approaches grief from another point of view. In the time since the DAC exhibit, my youngest brother died and Jody has accompanied her Mother through many changes of aging. Both Jody and Jan-Ru continue to carry their fathers as well. Time and reflection change the shape, texture and weight of grief.

Jan-Ru’s Artist Statement inspired Jody’s movement and my soundscape:

For over two years Jan-Ru Wan gathered discarded hair from salons around the world (Arnhem, Netherlands; Taipei, Taiwan; Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina) to create this installation, which speaks to global migration and culture.

Our hair is highly personal and yet universal. Hair is a marker of our identity—of our current self and of our desired self in that it can easily be altered in color and style. Hair is part of our body and yet we purposefully dispose of it, leaving behind pieces and strands in public places like barbershops and salons.

Here, DNA from countless hair samples from strangers across the globe have been combined by chance and stitched into printed silk pouches. Within each pouch, one person’s DNA intermixes with others, blending numerous identities into one piece to represent this global and confusing world.

Separation can refer to the hair physically separated from our body or to the emotional separation from our love ones. It can also refer to the separation from our past cultural identity that occurs when we are immersed in the global melting pot.

As Jan-Ru gathered hair, I gathered sound samples from my last visit to Trendsetters, where I have my hair cut. These samples have been layered in and slightly distorted so that the act of cutting away part of one’s self is suggested as well as represented. The tones and intervals of the soundscape are in the form of the pentatonic scale created when only the accidentals (the black keys on the piano) are played. This scale lies outside the more familiar Western intervals of the Aeolian/Solfege scale of the white keys. For the first part of the soundscape, these two worlds are separate.

Jan-Ru ends her Artist Statement with this wonderful image:

For my late father: The moment you left me our identities and destinies changed. We now have infinite space in between us, a constant that pushes us apart and yet draws close our hearts. The moment you separated from my body you took on a new adventure and a new identity, but here I am without you, my old memories combining with fresh ones.

The last section of the soundscape is made up of three tonic tones (BDE) with their natural harmonics articulated. So, for example, B is presented with A (its fifth) articulated in the second octave, and F# (its third) in the third octave. Usually triads are presented as chords in the same octave, in this case I have spread them out over several octaves representing infinite space and separation. As this plays out in long, slow waves, I improvise with just the three tonic tones as a drawing close of the hearts.

Jody’s movements interweave and juxtapose both the physical installation and the soundscape. Her use of angles, gestures and the overall space are an evocative exploration and expansion of the themes of Jan-Ru Wan’s work.

The opening is tonight, October 7, from 6 to 9 at VAE located at 309 W. Martin Street in Raleigh. Our first performance is at 6:45 pm, and we plan to present at several other points during the evening. We would love to see you there.

~ibod~ Sampler

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My cohorts and I meet most Thursday afternoons to listen, play and discuss our co-creations. We have done this for a little over a year now. I am so grateful to have the keen ears and skilled playing of Suzanne Romey, Eleanor Mills and Jim Kellough to engage with the sound collages I create. They are one of the biggest gifts I have ever received from the WoW.

What is it that we are creating? I have called them soundscapes, sound paintings, sound collages. We work with the elements of music in an open format. We dispense with genrefication and virtuoso performance in order to explore deep listening, improvisation and harmonic relationships. In my mind I call it “free-range music” although I don’t like to use the term “music” cause it is so loaded with expectations.

The expansiveness of our work does limit our audience. Music listeners of today seem to be drawn to the familiar, repeatable, easily catagorized, or to virtuoso performers who have “mastered” their instruments or who have charisma, excellent marketing or celebrity cache.  We are not of this ilk, but still we bring what we have to offer, and we find people who listen, hear and appreciate us. Sometimes I think we are creating music for a future time, like our magnificent predecessor, Sun Ra.

On September 11, ibod will play an outdoor soncert in downtown Durham. The program will include pieces we have played before and some revised work. Here is a small sample of what we will create:

Undulatus was inspired by the feeling of undulation I experienced as the soundscape was forming. The original title was Undulato which sounded like Italian ice cream to some folks. Then I saw videos of cloud formations called undulatus and thought “ah-ha, there’s my title!”


some kinda waltz was created as a loop for an ADF dance class in the summer of 2015. Jody Cassell used a recording of this piece for I’mpossible Aren’t I? which was presented as a dance and dance film during Tobacco Road Dance Productions Spring Showcase 2016. Here is a slice of a more recent recording:


Big Stride is our breezy, sunny day beach song. Eleanor said she pictures a tall woman in a long skirt striding down the beach. I like that image alot!

And, finally, here is a brief sample of one of our group improvisations sans soundscape. These have been evolving over the last 6 months to help us develop big ears and conversational skills.


I hope you enjoyed this little taste of ibod. Come listen, dance and dream with us next Sunday at 7 in Sushi Alley off Foster Street across from the Marriot Hotel in downtown Durham.

PROMPTS – “Surrender” The Carrack 12/11/15

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.

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(Photo by Bill Romey)

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…

Experiments in Nested Soundscapes No.1

The abundance of summer has brought forth many wonderful creative connections and reconnections. In addition to the regular cohorts (Susanne Romey, Eleanor Mills and Jim Kellough), other sweet friends have been coming over to jam with soundscapes. We set up in the Sun{Ra} Room, and usually I record what we do. This week I had a special treat when Emily Smith came for dinner and to work her cello magic on the soundscapes.

Emily and I have spent many hours rehearsing over the past four years as members of The Full Shanti, a local kirtan band. Most of our kirtan arrangements were improvised, so we have spent hours improvising together as well. I culled an excerpt from the forty minutes or so we played to share with you. You will hear three different pieces, the first two are soundscapes. The last one is an orchestral ukulele chord progression that I intend to build a soundscape around. I love playing this theme soooo much. I really feel it in my heart. It is definitely inspired by my love for the theme from Downton Abbey and the soundtrack from the movie, The Piano.


Emily’s cello playing is like a big, warm hug, plus she loves to try extended techniques on the instrument AND add in percussive elements.  The two soundscapes we played were developed for Moving Meditations and an evening dance class I accompanied this past Sunday at the ADF (American Dance Festival) Studios in Durham, NC. During the Moving Meditation, Jody Cassell lead the group through movement and meditation awarenesses as Shana Adams and I filled the space with sound. Here is an excerpt from that morning with Shana improvising over the same soundscape you heard above in a larger room with people moving quietly about.

As you can hear, the soundscape has a different quality in each of these two space collaborations.

I am feeling excited about studying and molding the acoustics in the Sun{Ra} Room as a means of understanding room acoustics, mic placement, etc. I started analyzing it last year, but got pulled in other directions.

I do believe I have circled back around as Nested Soundscapes becomes one area of focus for my creative work.