Program Notes: [for a proposed but not produced cd that would have included Lava. Lava was instead put out on john zorns label.]
Year of the Rooster:
These recordings were made in the Philippines around the New Year 1993, somewhat preceding the Chinese Lunar Year of the Rooster. I was on a vacation, returning for the first time to the country where I spent four years growing up between 1958 and 1962. I had just purchased a Sennheiser binaural microphone ( model ___ ) and brought it along with a palm-sized, portable DAT recorder, which made for an extremely discreet location recording rig - most people thought I was listening to recordings instead of making them.
While I had most eagerly anticipated recording soundscapes in more remote areas, as soon as I arrived in the Metro-Manila area the richness of the sonic environment struck me immediately as being more musical than the more well-regulated noise of the West that I was used to. Having also spent my most recent compositional efforts (c.f. Lava) trying to construct interesting three-dimensional soundfields, I was amazed by the musical quality of life that was available here for free.
The first short segment is probably the most prevalent sound in the Philippines - roosters are everywhere, and except for a few hours in the middle of the night, they make themselves known constantly, defining their territory and setting each other off in chains of call-and-response over great distances.
The next recording of the New Year's din recorded in the city of Ilo-ilo on the island Panay is also a territorial display, with families throughout the city outdoing each other with noisemaking, creating a deep soundpool of explosions.
There follows a segment of jump-cuts of an afternoon spent in the Quiapo market in Manila, made while walking through the streets listening to the chatter of salespeople and fortune-tellers, sometimes standing still and just letting the traffic, the portable musics, and the roar of the gasoline-powered electrical generators swirl around me.
Then finally two segments from that remote area: a dusk filled with insects and the lapping of the tides on a coral reef in Palawan, and the following morning at low tide standing on the exposed coral with the water trickling out, birds, and an outrigger motor in the distance.
Hall of Mirrors - I have been playing versions of this piece since 1986, and have released two earlier versions on my first CD "Snakecharmer", when I recorded it using a Fender Rhodes electric piano with an analog signal processing system, and on the "Room" CD "Hall of Mirrors" (Music & Arts) as an ensemble piece. This recording was made in the Akademie der Knste in East Berlin, which was formerly the Volkskammer (Congress) for the German Democratic Republic, using a Kunstkopf - Neumann binaural microphone.
Duo - "Duo" is an improvisation between two players, one playing any amplified acoustic instrument, and the other playing a MIDI keyboard that controls an electronic resonator which repeats and recirculates the sound of the instrument.
I am interested in the ability of electronic instruments that allows a different kind of ensemble relationship between performers in which all are symbiotically producing a single sound. There is a crossing of instrumental territories here, in which both players are together responsible for the whole and inseparable into parts that reminds me of the unity achieved by players in a gamelan.
I have performed this piece with various instrumental sources including cello, string-bass, and bassoon; the resonator is always an LXP1, and during the course of the piece all six reverb algorithms are heard, which form a consistent modulating structure for the piece. A computer program interprets the keystrokes to control all the available parameters on the resonator, including the delay length, amount of echos, and William Winant chose to use two very simple instruments from South India that are often used in rhythm improvisations: the kanjira, a small snakeskin tambourine with a single set of jingles; and the morsang, which is simply a jaw harp.