Earlier pieces that I have made were assembled almost
entirely out of samples, including instrumental parts.
What makes this piece different (for me) is that over the
last year I have been "sampling" fragments of
folk tunes, transcribing them, changing/abstracting them
(by slowing them down, for example, or leaving out notes),
and then performing them on live instruments. This creates
what I would call a "sound-field" -- a mostly
static, sustained group of notes that the samples from
the Berea Archives can float on top of, accompany, or interact
with. This would include singers, instrumentalists, radio
fragments, and so on, all centered on the themes of winter,
night, journeys, rural America, and war. Also, I've broken
down these sound-fields into nearly 20 relatively brief
(ca. 3-5 minutes or so) pieces. This makes a kind of large-scale "song" cycle
that tells many ambiguous stories, and will ultimately
feel like an audio-film.
One of the students at Berea asked me if I was an "Appalachian
DJ." (!) While I am not thinking of these pieces in
the exact same way a hip hop artist would, they will have
similar kinds of influence: samples, loops, collage, and
so on. The major difference is that there aren't any big
beats/drums; the pieces tend to float more than revolve
Right now I am in the process of narrowing down the samples
material from Berea, and assembling them into the larger
structure of the piece. I have much of the instrumental
recording finished, and over the next month or so will
be putting the two layers together. My initial plan was
to have the piece finished and performed this winter (December,
2006 or January, 2007); it looks like I will finish well
before that date, and could have a CD copy of the pieces
ready sometime this summer.
A typical performance would include 4-5 performers (including
computer and the Berea samples), along with video projections
that would include images from Berea's Appalachian Photo
Archives. The final work will be between 60-75 minutes.
I think a
typical audience would be similar to what you would find
in a university setting or art/performance space. I have
also been working with many visual artists. This piece
would work well in a gallery or museum.