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Hudson River fishermen heading out at dawn, Peter Lourie, 1998
Hudson River fishermen heading out at dawn, Peter Lourie, 1998

Last February 2020, I visited the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary Trail in the Hudson River to make some field recordings of the environment surrounding the brackish tidal marsh. The Constitution Marsh is one of five large estuarine environments connected to the Hudson River and provides natural habit to several species of birds, fish, plants, and many vertebrate and invertebrate species. This wetland area is located on the east side of the Hudson, near Cold Spring, and is surrounded by the Hudson Highlands.

The soundscape above was recorded on a small hill overlooking the tidal marsh. It was a very windy day, so I sheltered the microphone between the rocky steps of the trail. The resulting recording captures the sounds of branches and dry leaves rustling in the wind, bird calls, and the sound of the Amtrak train on the distance with its characteristic horn. The marsh provides foraging, nesting, and resting habitat to more than 200 species of birds. However, this New York State Bird Conservation Area is still subject to a large conglomeration of human-made noises like the train and low flying airplanes.

Hiking trail at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary Photo Jessica Andreone.jpg

Inside a hollow tree, 2’14”. Feb 2020, download

The more pervasive sound in the area is the constant sound of airplanes. I tried to record the sound of a passing aircraft through the vibrating trunk of a tree by placing a microphone inside of a hollow tree. The airplane’s sound reverberating on the wooden walls resulted in an eerie drone sound.

Reeds, Water and Wind, 2’08”. Feb 2020, download

Phragmites australis, the common reed, is a non-native marsh plant spreading in many of the Hudson River wetlands. This plant forms fast-growing stands of stems, transforming the diversity of the habitat into a monoculture by crowding out native vegetation. Reeds introduce changes to the local microtopography, increase fire potential, decrease salinity, and outcompete plants. These changes have a ripple effect that ends up degrading the diversity of wetlands and coastal marshes and endangering wildlife. The Constitution Marsh Audubon Center dedicates its conservation efforts to the control and management of reeds in the area by using black geotextile material to flatten and cover patches of the vegetation. This method raises the temperature of the soil, killing the root system of the plant, allowing for the future growth of native vegetation.

Small brook flowing into the tidal marsh, Hudon River, 2’08”. Feb 2020, download

Carlo Patrão
*photos by the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center

Hudson River map

The February edition of The Wire magazine (issue 432) features the chart Waterfall as Metronome, composed of works inspired by the sight and sound of waterfalls including field recordings, on-site improvisation, sound installations, white noise, ethnographic work, and new-age interpretations of water, flow and the effects of negative ions. While putting together this list, I imagined a speculative history of music where compositions were not driven by metronome’s mechanical account of time, but by the continuous atemporal flow of a waterfall.

Waterfall as Metronome 15

Sarah HenniesGather (Category of manifestation)

Daniel Menche – Raw Fall (The Tapeworm)

Hafdis Bjarnadottir – North (Gruenrekorder)

Bill Fontana – Vertical Water (Whitney Museum)  

Peter Ablinger – Weiss / Weisslich 7b (Peter Ablinger)

Olivia Wyatt – The Pierced Heart and The Machete (Sublime Frequencies) 

Carlos Niño – Delightfulllll / Waterfall (feat. Iasos) (Leaving Records)

Francisco López – Tawhirimatea (No label)  

John Butcher- Close by, a waterfall (Confront)  

Annea LockwoodEnglewood Brook Falls, Palisades (Lovely)

Herman de Vries – Thema 1: bach (Artists Press Bern)

Micheal Pisaro – Still Life with Cicadas, Waterfall and Radu (Gravity Wave)

Ulahi and Eyo:bo – Sing At A Waterfall (Folkways) 

Paul Lloyd WarnerKipahulu Falls (MPI)

Steven FeldFlow like a Waterfall: The Metaphors of Kaluli Musical Theory (Yearbook for Traditional Music)

Voices of the Rainforest: A day in the life of Bosavi (2019), directed and produced by Steven Feld
Peter Ablinger at the Waterfalls of Krimml, Austria, recording Weiss/Weisslich 33, 1999

I feel like a balloon going up into the atmosphere, looking, gathering information, and relaying it back. Rachel Rosenthal, 1985

Last April 2019, Sounding Out! published my two-part article “On the poetics of balloon music” exploring sound and sound-art practices through the object of the balloon. The first article focuses on late 18th century balloon travels and the descriptions of silence in the upper air that constituted a staple of Victorian balloon memoirs and literature of the time. Ascending above the noise of the industrialized city, the first balloonists were constructing a sonic identity rooted in the privilege of buoyancy and constructs of the sublime, harmony, and silence that excluded other ways of sounding.EB88C396-FD2B-43A8-8686-872BF9CA2D0FThe sight of boundless space and the muted sonic experience of the higher regions of the atmosphere inspired colonial narratives of expansion and a listening mode that perceived sound as invasive, as contamination and as noise. By establishing an early connection between the exploration of the atmosphere and a listening ear based on elitism, race, and class the article goes on to analyze some contemporary sound-art practices that use balloons to explore the atmosphere and that take on the challenge of creating a more inclusive relationship with the medium of air.

Against Levity: Experimental Music and the Latex Balloon

Part 2 of this article features an interview with composer and sound artist Judy Dunaway, who has been developing sculptural sonic performances with balloons for over 25 years. Dunaway’s work with the balloon as a sound producer has been the exclusive focus of several records (e.g. Balloon Music,  Mother of Balloon Music), scores, sound sculptures, solo performances, ensembles, and installations. In this interview, Judy Dunaway talks about how her balloon compositions are in active dialogue with questions relating to feminism, body/mind, ecology, civil rights, memory, and the overall creation of a musical expression and lexicon that lives outside a classical heritage.

E2DA1972-C469-4AFA-B824-400EDF5E95DDAs Dunaway points out, the balloon as a musical instrument bypasses dominant hierarchies of music production, leveling the access to experimentation and sonic textures that are restricted by expensive electronic technology. In addition to this democratization of sound, the latex balloon functions as a resonant chamber, offering an embodied mode of listening through the vibration of its membranes. This object duality of sounding and sensing opens up room for what the scholar Steph Ceraso calls a multi-modal listening that plays with body, affect, behavior, design, space, and aesthetics.

 

“From my earliest work with balloons as musical instruments, I instinctively knew that I must limit myself to the balloon and my body.  This required that the balloon function not only as a musical appendage by which I may transmit sound, but also one that transmitted vibrations back to me through its sensitive body. (…)” Judy Dunaway, The Balloon Music Manifesto

Balloon Music compilation
Balloon Music compilation

Sounding Out! articles:

On the poetics of balloon music: Sounding Air, Body and Latex (Part 1)

On the poetics of balloon music: Sound Artist Judy Dunaway (Part 2)

*Brief review of these articles on the polish magazine Glissando: http://glissando.pl/aktualnosci/prasowka-29-04/

 

Carlo Patrão

Zepelim, Charles Amirkhanian

This piece was produced for BBT Sun Radio and aired on Rádio Universidade de Coimbra (RUC) on July 6th, 2018. BBT Sun Radio is a radiophonic space dedicated to freeform radio and a celebration of our beloved friends and radio colleagues José Braga, Bruno Simões and João Terêncio. This hour is a travel-log of old and new interviews, radio cut-ups, collages and excursions on themes like deep time, sound, ecology, lucid dreaming, etc. Thanks to André Quaresma and Tiago André for the invitation and for curating this show.

Collage 2

Ruc

Music for Plants, Compilation.jpg

On June 28, I’ll be talking about Music for Plants at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado. This talk is part of an event series called 3 Things, Any 3 Things that mixes performance, lecture, and music. The tagline for the event reads: We bring you three experiences. We smash them together. We make no connections. Let’s see what happens. 

Alongside music for plants there will be a Hip hop harpist (Erin Newton) and a whiskey tasting (Ryan Negley). I’m pleased to do this lecture in the hometown of Dorothy Retallack, author of the book Sound of Music and Plants (1973), that famously spread the rumors that plants don’t have an ear for Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix’s acid rock.

MCA, Denver Colorado, June 28:
Music for Plants + Whiskey + Hip Hop Harpist 
with Carlo Patrão, Ryan Negley, and Erin Newton

MCA DENVEReventbrite-45978014479

Kalun Leung is a trombone player based in New York City. This interview was recorded during a visit to Freshkills Park in Staten Island organized by the sound artist John Roach, the designer Andrew Shea and their students from the New School. The group is developing a series of installations for the park that translate ecological data into sensory experiences. Freshkills Park, once the world’s largest landfill, is now being transformed into a public park three times the size of Central Park.

Kalun Leung
Sound the Mound

DeepWirelessLarge

Zepelim’s radio piece Misophonia is included in the new Deep Wireless 13 radio art compilation curated by New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA). This work explores the condition of Misophonia and the varying degrees of sonic annoyances that arise from bodily functions while also reflecting upon the ways in which this health issue has been covered by the media. Deep Wireless 13 features several radio pieces on the spectrum of electroacoustic and experimental sound art. The album was produced for the 17th edition of Deep Wireless Festival of Radio & Transmission Art taking place between January 17 and April 16, 2018. Pieces were selected from an international call for submissions on the theme Sonic Reflections.

“The Deep Wireless festival has been celebrating the art of the aural imagination since 2002 with annual performances, broadcasts, workshops and many special events. This year’s theme is Sonic Reflections. Reflections of South River that are broadcast out into the world and reflections of the world resonating in our memories and imagination.”— Darren Copeland, NAISA

Artistic Director: Darren Copeland
Executive Director: Nadene Thériault-Copeland
Image Illustration: Prashant Miranda

Deep Wireless 13 Radio Art Compilation:

Naisa

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