Learning to Sing Fire

  One of my new songs comes from the poem Fire by Joy Harjo. She is an author, musician, teacher, and member of the Mvskoke Nation.   I first encountered her poem in a collection of women writers on nature called Sisters of the Earth (1991). The images in the poem: woman, mountain, blue sky, and night wind speak of an animate world of interconnection. But what is the fire of the poem’s title? As I’ve been learning to sing this song, I have watched the prayerful resistance grow to the Dakota Access Pipeline. A friend from college who traveled to the Oceti Sakowin Camp in late November shared this message from a United Seven Fires Council of the Sioux Nation ceremony she attended: “…Each …

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Songs songs songs

When a song comes the weather shifts subsumed by an all encompassing feeling. Sometimes the song emerges as a tiny thing, a few words accompanied by a guttural hum. If nourished, given plenty of attention, it may live up to its potential. In precious moments as luck will have it or longing will make it a song slowly slides out in one sitting: a thing to behold, tangible, real. She is someone to come home to, someone to get to know slowly, her gift, her story echoing loudly in your ears.   I am songwriting again aiming at recording a new album of songs in winter 2016. The subject I’m dancing around is inspired by a book by Paul Bogard The End of Night. The …

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3/21/15- Studies on a Driftwood Lyre

  These are sonic studies from an on-going project with a beach in San Simeon California and an artist-friend who makes found-object instruments from gifts on the beach. These musical pieces contain both field recordings of different locations on the beach and a 6 string driftwood lyre made by the artist. (If you are up on your Greek mythology, a lyre is an ancient 7 stringed instrument, plucked, similar to a harp. It’s creation is attributed to the god Hermes. It’s a fret-less plucked instrument.) I took audio samples of each string, and transformed into a sampler instrument in Logic Pro in order to “pitch” the instrument and explore melodic possibilities. Here are some of the results. The first in the series was a whimsical …

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9/21/14: Art in Nature

Songwriter Emily Shumway and I shared a set of music at this festival in the Oakland hills on 9/21/14. Joined by accompanying bass and a trio of three women we performed songs from poetry written by woman about Nature. Much of our material was drawn from the seminal anthology Sisters of the Earth edited by Lorraine Anderson. The Art in Nature Festival was a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory arts experience. Set in the oaks, redwoods, and meadows of Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park the event featured over a hundred artists, musicians, and performers sharing the creative arts with an audience of about 3000. What a unique acoustic experience singing music in the redwoods. The trees both amplified and absorbed the sounds. I found that quiet singing could be …

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