Passages and Scenes, Reflection and Memory
Otherecological and social change in the Canadian west.
prairie and mountain soundscapes, electroacoustic textures
Subjectsonic art work, electroacoustic music
soundscapes, sound events, instruments, sound objects
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AbstractPassages and Scenes, Reflection and Memory is a large-scale sonic art work that explores aspects of ecological and social change in the Canadian west. There are three related environment-related themes that inspire the work: exploration and travel, moving through time and across the land, and geological, social and personal transformation. The form of the composition outlines a movement through time evoking prehistory, first peoples, exploration, settlement, the modern era, our present, and reflection.
SponsorshipSupport for this project was provided by the Alberta Creative Development Initiative, through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts. Premièred by New Works Calgary, January 2011, Happening Festival of New Music and Media.
Passages and Scenes, Reflection and Memory (2009) David Eagle the knowledge of our origins, and where we are in truth, whose land this is and is to be.1 My goal was to compose a large-scale sonic art work that explores aspects of ecological and social change in the Canadian west. Having grown up in the prairies and as an adult later made it my home, I wanted this work to be rooted in and reflect upon the specific cultural experience and historical perspective of life in the west. In literature there are several novels and other writings that have influenced me in this regard: Icefields by Thomas Wharton, Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell, the perfection of the morning by Sharon Butala, poetry by John Newlove. These literary works describe the prairie and mountain soundscapes with extraordinary beauty and vividness: why, in contemporary electroacoustic music, are these subtle soundscapes strangely absent? There are three related themes that also inspire the work, all involving struggle and a close experience with the environment: exploration and travel, moving through time and across the land, and geological, social and personal transformation. The form of the composition outlines a movement through time evoking prehistory, first peoples, exploration, settlement, the modern era, our present, and reflection. In composing Passages and Scenes, Reflection and Memory my aim was to communicate with listeners in a musical mode using melodic ideas and instrumental sounds, in a sonic mode using electroacoustic textures and sound objects, in an associative and evocative mode using soundscapes and sound events, and in a semantic mode where the meaning of the spoken word and intonation of the human voice predominate. With sound and music projected through eight channels, the piece blends and juxtaposes recordings of prairie and mountain soundscapes, bird and animal vocalizations, characters and sounds from the past, sounds of motion and machinery, and new instrumental passages and gestures. The composition was realized in the Sonic Arts Lab at the University of Calgary and in my home studio. The total duration is 25:30. Most field recordings were done at Grasslands National Park, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Plummers Road, Willow Creek and various locations throughout the Rockies. Edited archival recordings are from the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and used with permission. Thanks to the Rubbing Stone Ensemble, Hexagon Studio for the instrumental recording, and Monte Sandvoss for the well-tuned tractors. 1 John Newlove. excerpt from “The Pride” in The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English, ed by Margaret Atwood (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1982), 342.