Monday, July 12, 2010

July 11th 2010 day 2 at Banning

Today I started early with a hike around the Quarry Loop Trail Itself. I began by doing a brief "listening meditation" that I plan on starting the hikes with focusing the ears on particular elements present in the park (wind, water, bird and animal noises). Once I had my ears in the right place, I began the path. I was immediately struck by insistent and repetitive phrasing of the various bird songs and the consistency with which other birds seemed to respond with similar phrases. This kind of stereophonic juxtaposition set the stage for what I heard when focusing on the sound of the wind as often wind seemed to move in two dimensions through the trees above and different speeds of wind wound create different textures in the leaves. I also noticed that even though I was simply standing in one spot, different parts of the river would stick out more at different times also giving the impression of a stereophonic texture and further upstream at times would be more low and bassey sounds and further down was swiftly flowing rapids. Then, when I focused on all elements together, it was like I was listening to a cohesive quadrophonic composition done in a studio but with an infinite number of different recording chambers as each sound I heard seemed to come from a different part of the overall space with different levels of reverb. As I started the hike, I was then able to take this initial picture with me and focus on the sounds I had been hearing and notice how these disparate elements began to change their character slowly as I walked, and especially when I would pass through a very rocky and enclosed space.

Though it was my intention to do a straight walk around the park and time how long it took, I ended up getting distracted by the many side paths that lead away from the main quarry trail and then back again taking you on a detour closer to the sheer rock faces that were cut away over 100 years ago by miners. The empty space that exists there now and allows me to experience that space are mostly now part of many of the old sandstone buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul and appropriately, the neighboring town where most of these miners lived, is called Sandstone. Now, water slowly trickles down the sides of these rock faces creating pools of water that fill in pits that were created by sandstone being cut out of them and then further shaped by this steady but extremely slow flow of water. Other side paths include several paths on the south east side of the trail which lead to the rivers edge and several that lead to the various abandoned structures that the miners once worked and lived in including the stone cutting facility, the power house, and the stone crushing room. These structures are mostly now just ruined walls but their shape can still be made out and their impact on the sonic environment which they surround is still very present. A quick walk into the powerhouse tells a story and the sound of your boots stomping through the mud and clay reverberate through the entire chamber. Too many idea to count (or possibly do all of them) rushed to my head after spending a few moments in this chamber. Think it will be a challenge to narrow it down into something that will be enlightening for the audience without going overboard and lessening the overall experience of the park, but that is where the technique comes in, right?

Musical Instincts and years of training don't fail me now!

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