Sunday, September 5, 2010
Whitewater Friday September 3rd 1:00 PM
Another family, this time of 4. Very exuberant with two young boys who seemed to need to let off some steam. None the less, I did the meditation at the beginning of the hike though it was a slightly abridged version to not bore the two of them too much. We stopped just after the first creek crossing where large concrete slabs act as steps across the water. We listened to the sounds of two different small rapids, the steady sound of wind which was very present as the weather was threatening rain, and we also heard a smattering of birds and crickets in the distance. This is a nice spot because the valley itself is so diverse in its sound and birds that are far off and other sounds that are closer create sharp contrasts from iteration to iteration.
We then began the hike and stopped at places along the way and really heard deeply the sounds of water as we were confronted with a new water feature or insect cluster of sound around each corner. The stop after the first bridge was especially nice as the rain had made a hidden water feature there much stronger and it could be heard clearly against the creek behind us and the buds all around us. We the hiked farther past the second bridge and into what I have termed "the mysterious valley" as the sonic features have an air of mystery to them. There we listened to a section filled with birds and bugs and I then signaled the drummers. We didn't hear them until a bit later, but on occasion, I thought I heard a subtle "coloration" along the edges of the valley which would add to the mystery of this place. We hiked back quickly but still stopped to listen on the bridge and in between the bridges again as the drums became more present. As we got to the top, I realized that I really wanted to sit with the group to gage the effectiveness of the drums and be able to actually hear the right moment to stop them but I have obligated myself to activating a part of the valley with a drum just beneath the stairs. I think this intrigues the audience when I suddenly disappear and then they hear the sound it makes, but from the perspective of the drummer, you don't hear the reverberations of the valley that you are making possible with your playing. Interesting acoustic feature. But this performance is for the audience and not me. I think the fact that I cannot hear clearly what the other drummers are doing from my vantage point and vice versa makes it more "random" in a similar way to the way that sound in the park (water features, bird sounds, wind rising and falling) are "random". That is to say, there are certain mathematical and probabilistic principles at work when water flows over rocks or birds start to chirp or wind begins to wail through the trees. I guess I was trying to emulate that with the instructions I gave to the musicians and to be able to hear and impose a human decision onto that cachophony would be against the point of the piece. Or would it????
The hike ended with heavy winds howling through the valley as the family of four sat on the rocks above. A really nice moment I think. But a bit scary for the boys. But not too scary.