Following the creative path

Missed Opportunity: Crackling Nature

Cama Beach State Park provided an opportunity to record some sounds I rarely hear. I was attending a friend's wedding, and the whole group spent two nights at the park. On Saturday morning, several us walked along the beach. The water was at low tide, and all sorts of sea life was visible just by walking to the edge of the water: clams, mussels, barnacles, crabs, starfish, sea anenomes and much more.

I was most excited (as were others) at the sound coming from all of these creatures. It sounded to us like crackling. You could stand anywhere on the beach and be surrounded by spitting clams and this light noise. I wish I had my field recorder for that. It's still not set in my memory to take it when traveling. Maybe I will get lucky when I travel to Oregon next week. I will definitely bring the recorder and open ears.

Trimpin Rocks

I watched Trimpin last night at SIFF. Trimpin: the sound of invention is a documentary playing at the Seattle International Film Festival. If you're interested in music or looking for creative inspiration, be sure to watch the next viewing on June 1st.

I didn't know who had built the tornado of guitars at the EMP. I had hated the EMP for so many years, but luckily I broke that spell. it's not the best museum in the world, but it can provide some musical inspiration.

I thought that guitar art installation was wasteful when I first heard about it. That was a long time ago, and I'm psyched to be headed to the EMP today for a workshop about bluegrass music. I'll be taking a first, true look at Trimpin's work. I can't wait!

Blenders and Beatboxes

I was fortunate to be in London last week. Not only did I have a fantastic work week with Amnesty International, but I took a couple of days off for sight seeing and music experiences.

Working with Sam, Marco, and Nat from CivicActions was a wonderful experience. Every chance I get to work face to face with other CivicActions folks makes the work ever more enjoyable (and quite honestly more productive).

But enough about work. Let's talk about London. What amazed me, is that Ether09 started right as work finished up. What a line up! And although London is pricey, I found some free events which blew my socks off.

Blenders and Other Bits

Ujino and the Rotators were great. Band members include vinyl albums with pieces of colored pencil glued to them (the pencil pieces were about 1 cm tall and glued vertically, think player-piano), a blender, a sander, light bulbs, drills, and so on.

This could have been a painful experience. Using unexpected things as musical instruments or modifying a musical instrument to add dimension can lead to too much chaos. Not so for Ujino. He laid down some great rhythms making the experience toe-tapping and fun. In fact, he had the crowd giggling and clapping during the performance. Suffice it to say that having your blender make music and a drink at the same time really pleases a crowd. What a delight, and it's nice to see someone having fun with some truly experimental stuff.

When listening and experiencing live music of this sort of nature, it can be difficult to identify if it really is music. Maybe it's just chaos? Maybe it's just noise? Some of this is personal choice. You may choose to call some sounds mixed together music, but others may disagree.

My recent drumming class has opened my ears and understanding of percussion. It made listening to Ujino's music that much easier. I could easily pickup different percussive patterns that might have sounded mushy to me before. In addition, I felt that the songs had patterns and phases of a song. Maybe it's not like a rock and roll tune with verses and a repeated chorus, but more like a classicial piece with movements.

Another aspect that makes music 'music' is if it can change my emotional state. I listened to one crazy piece of electronic mayhem last fall at the University of Washington. The whole concert was great, and it was La Legende d’Eer [Diatope] for 7 channel tape by Iannis Xenakis which was beyond anything I had heard before.

Alright, this piece is absolutely hard to quantify as music from my point of view. It's all of these electronic noises, but we sat. Ane we listened. In the dark. I kept wanting to leave (some of it really was tortuous to hear), but I stayed. What's 40 minutes? What happened was that I faded in and out of states of annoyance and relaxed bliss, then amazingly a feeling of fear. And I wasn't the only one. I heard two UW students discussing it afterward. They had the same reaction at one point in the music...was it the same point? Hmmmm....

I don't find myself want to heard this sort of music again, but I still enjoy the experience of it. To see how music plays with the mind. I wonder what sort of chemical processes occur because of the music you hear.


All I can tell you is that this group was having a very good time. BoxCon was a series of workshops, competition, and performances of local (I think) Beatbox artists. It was happening at the same time as Ujino, so I didn't arrive until they were nearing the end of the event. Everyone who had been performibng that day was on the stage. Maybe 30 people. They had five microphones, and they sort of switched around with everyone improvising their beats and um, I don't know how to you say this, but will go with 'beating' together. Again after a couple months of drum class, this totally qualifies as music for me. You can download a short clip to hear the chaos. It was 98% men, but I saw a few women out there. Way to go, grrls!
What's even better is that these folks are so clearly addicted. The event ended, and as I waited for a friend to join me, I found a group of 5 guys. They stood in a tight circle with one guy rapping and the others beat boxing. You can download a short clip to hear the sweetness. It's not perfect, but they were one happy group of people who didn't mind a geeky girl hanging near by with digital recorder bobbing her head.

Um...hello...copyright. Please don't reuse these mp3 files without talking with me first. Link to this page instead.

boxcon.mp3752.72 KB
5guys_boxcon.mp31.01 MB

Looking for a Few Good...

Horses. I visited Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center today to watch the rider showcase. What an amazing group of people. You can't help but feel good about the whole thing. Children and adults with physical disabilities receive therapy via horseback riding. The horses are great. The whole group handled our crowd with ease and grace.

Their greatest need right now are sound horses with the right temperament. They have horses of all ages (the oldest is 26 years old). I feel a little lost to help, since I am not in touch with many of my horse folks (plus they are all on the East coast). If you know anyone with a stable horse who might fit well in this sort of program, please contact Little Bit. They would love to talk with you.

I am seriously thinking about volunteering. It's a bit of distraction from music...hmmm.

Hell and Indian

While visiting family in Washington, DC, I was blown away by the art of Louise Bourgeious and Fritz Scholder. One of Louise's pieces has this statement embroidered:

I've been to hell and back

And let me tell you, it was wonderful!

At the American Indian Museum, they provided a video interviewing Fritz and discussing his life. His quotes are killer. Totally contradictory and sometimes poking fun. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble remembering them, and I can't find the really good zingers on the web. He talks about being 1/4 indian, and this isn't too far from what he said in the video:

...I'm proud of my one-quarter heritage but it really means nothing, because how can you be anything if you're one-quarter


My favorite Scholder painting is Monster Love No 1 (sorry it's not easy to link to). It's such a beautiful piece. The Smithsonian site shows all his work on display in DC and NY.

Oh another quote, it was something like "As far as I can see, fine art is the best racket around (or maybe in town?)". I love that! I wish I could have met him.

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