July 1, 2020

Double Whistle on a Stormy Day


My mother says I should name this "Between the Storms".

June 1, 2020

Double Ocarina

Two tunes on the Double Ocarina.

May 19, 2020

Triple Flute again

Some lively improvisation on the Triple Flute.

April 27, 2020

Windy Day Triple Flute

Some wind noise but the flying hair and the triple flute are still fun!

April 15, 2020

Double Occarina Video

Sunset and Improvisation on the Double Ocarina

March 26, 2020

Low Whistle video

A Low Whistle improv.

March 20, 2020

Double Whistle video

Another bit of music for everyone.

Triple Flute video

March 14, 2020

Possum Playlist

A story from my "studio".

While recording music for my 2nd CD "Waking the Devas", which was all recorded outdoors, I went out to play under a Meteor shower. Nighttime nature sounds being different from daytime and besides it seemed like a great way to watch for shooting stars. 
I spread out a blanket, got all set up and turned off my flashlight so my eyes would adjust. I watched the stars and listened to the tree frogs. Then I played several different tunes and re-worked some. All the usual recording activity.
After some time, I heard some odd quiet little noises and rustlings (cat? small dog? giant nocturnal rabbit late for a tea party?) just past my blanket. They stopped and started, got closer but I could only see vague movement. I turned on the light and saw long pointed face, dark wild eyes, fur sticking out in all directions and a long fur-less tail.
Now let me say I love Possums. They are sweet and helpful little guys and girls. They do not generally don’t live long enough to even be at risk of having rabies let alone spread it and they eat ticks so they are most welcome as far as I'm concerned. But they are surprising when the emerge from the darkness and fearlessly sit down next to you. Asking you to play some more tunes on that odd silver tube. Just for them.

Which is why one of the tracks recorded that night but not included in the album stops rather abruptly and includes me vocalizing various “heys” and finally clapping at the end.

February 6, 2020

Why We Listen to Diverse Music

Culture is embedded in music and dance. Throughout history when a culture is under attack, music and dance from the suppressed culture is one of the things targeted. Happens over and over. From Rap being censored to specific instruments being deemed bad or inappropriate for women to play. The wider the targeted music, the more totalitarian the attacking group is trying to be.
And it never works. People keep making the music they love no matter what punishments are involved. In fact, it often backfires and makes the music from the suppressed culture more popular and more beloved.
So let's just keep right on enjoying all the different kinds of music and dance out there!

December 1, 2019

A Bit About Me

One day many years ago, I went out into the woods to teach myself to improvise. The cedar tree I sat under taught me how to listen to things I had already heard but not noticed. The birds taught me how to make each note my own song. The breezes taught me how to adapt and change to each moment. The little forest creek taught me to dance while holding still.
This is how I went feral.
After many years, I learned to share my creations with others and slowly became a composer/performer. I studied how to ornament Baroque music. I took classes on Jazz improvisation. I delighted in the many different First Nations flutes and scales in North and South America and the personal songs they sing. I learned the differences between articulations in Irish and Classical music. I jammed with musicians steeped in Eastern improvisation.
I soaked up ideas of inspiration and the creation of music from myths and fairytales.

I create art from breath and make sculpture out of air. Each song/tune/performance is individual and ephemeral. Each flute has its own voice. I use recording as a tool to expand my ideas and share unique musical moments in the wilderness with others.
"Amaltheia's Lullaby", my 1st CD uses Alto, Concert and Glass flutes recorded in my garden. Lullabies and dreams, all based on a 4-note call to Pan.
"Waking the Devas" uses Baroque, Concert and Glass flutes recorded in rain and wind, night and day, crickets and cicadas.
“A Few Flutes Shy of a Flutter”, continues the madness with new whistles and rim-blown flutes recorded over a year of wandering the forest hills.
I am currently working on a 4th album with the sound of water in every track.

What will happen next only the Stars and Time will tell.

October 19, 2019

Talking Water

(This was originally posted in June of 2013. Since I've spent the last year recording music next to running water, I decided to share this again.)

There are several small creeks and run-offs in the hills around my home. Each corner of every one sounds different. After a heavy rain, I can walk beside the streams day after day and never hear the same tune twice. The harmonies shift hour by hour as the water level sinks, progressing out to the rivers.
Roots in the Creek Bed
None of these little creeks have running water year round though there are little springs here and there that keep them from becoming bone dry and maintain a soft hum.
For two years, we were in a drought and the creeks have not been as chatty as I'm used to. We had a good conversation last May but then they fell silent for the rest of the year. By October, only dust was moving in the rocky beds. Even the tiny springs’ tuning pitches seemed to have been lost to the heat and wind.
Dusty Dry Creek
...and dry

Green Creek
Same creek, wet...

Then, this Spring, it snowed. And snowed. And for good measure, snowed a few more times, moving planting dates later and later. And every time the snow melted, I could see more water standing in the too-quiet waterways. The slowly rising pools even began to create tiny trickling noises, little whispers and hints that the drought might be ending. Just perhaps.
Sky Between Snowfalls
Sky between snows
The cold Spring snows finally gave way to rain and to my great delight, there were a few twists in the creeks that were speaking without stop, though debris and roadside trash still cluttered most of the straight-aways, just waiting for a good rushing torrent to chase them away. Until it rained 3 inches in one day. And then rained the next day. And again two days later.
The floods were intimidating of course but largely brief. The ground soaked the rain up as fast as it could, greedy as a cat with cream or a musician with notes. And I could not help but dance for joy. The water was talking, chanting, singing in ways I hadn't heard in over a year.
Leaf Waterfall

Pictures just weren't enough. I had to take my handheld recorder out to gossip with the running waterways. The chiming sounds of water tiptoeing down ditches, the rhythmic lines from the rocky falls and the dark bass notes of the wide deep bends below the bridge all had a solo to share.

Wild and Crooked Creeks
Run-off; around 1 minute Mini Water-fall; around 3 minutes Bass Note in the stream; 7:52 min Bridge Exit

Opening Run-off
Rocky Falls
About 1 min; the Mini Waterfall
Spring Torrent
About 3 min; Full Voice w/Bass Note
Pools and Reflections
7:52 The Final Bridge

The thunder and rain have drummed up dance forms, chansons and polyphonic-rounds in the running waters while the birds toss motives and trills down on us like confetti. The earth and sky pour joyous melodies into the little pathways of the ear and overflow the mind until nothing is left but song and water.

Sky, Trees and Talking Water

August 20, 2019

Double Double...

I picked up a double whistle, just for kicks, a while ago. It was cheap and I figured it would be fun to use from time to time for a silly look-what-happens-when-whistle-players-get-drunk thing. And down the slippery slope into a new musical realm I went!

Double Whistle in C (Susato Dulce Duo)
The first double whistle I got has a full pennywhistle on the left and a three-holed tabor whistle on the right (same as the last 3 holes of a whistle.) The instrument maker imagined this instrument being played with the left hand on the pennywhistle side and the right hand on the 3 holed whistle. You can play in F major with the harmony and melody switching from whistle to whistle and dancing around each other as needed quite easily this way. However, the seller suggested using 4 fingers on the left hand by adding the pinky on the whistle to get some notes that overlap on both instruments and some neat parallel 3rds. Both strategies are quite fun and create great music.
Naturally, I did neither of these things.
Instead, I use tape to cover the top 2 holes of the 3 holed side and use my pinky to cover the last hole. I still use both hands to play the left side whistle normally. This basically turns the right side whistle into a 2 note drone in the bottom octave. Now the nifty thing is, in the next octave those drone notes can be overblown to the 5th as well and gives me 4 notes up there. Getting even wilder, if I uncover one side of the mouthpiece slightly I can (with great care and practice) keep one whistle in the low octave while going high on the other. To a point since this does affect the tone quality some.
What all this boils down to is I have 6 possible harmony notes available to me along with a full whistle for melody. Dorian tunes really shine in this set up and major is great fun too.
By the way, you can find instructions on-line for taking two cheap whistles and making this design yourself if you want. Most separate the two whistles more than this into a wide V-shape which makes reaching the bottom hole with your pinky difficult (if you want the alternating drone set-up) but creates a neat visual impact (if you use the one-hand-on-each-whistle approach).

Double Whistle with Tabor Pipe by Carbony Celtic Winds
But wait, there's more!
I then went out and found someone who would make a double whistle with a tabor pipe on the right that has 2 holes in front and a thumb hole in the back. I covered the middle hole (upper one in the front) on the right side tabor pipe so my pinky still covers the bottom hole and my thumb covers the higher 3rd hole but all my other fingers are free for the pennywhistle on the left side. AND I can half-hole the thumb creating 4 possible harmony notes in the bottom octave and nearly a full octave possible in the 2nd octave. While STILL being able to play the pennywhistle side (more or less) normally.

Thus explaining why I now look permanently confused and distracted--I'm recalculating all my fingering and harmony strategies!
D Dorian (minor with a raised 6th) is perhaps the easiest scale to use with these double whistles. However, with a little creative thinking (and knowledge of music theory) it is quite possible to play in C or F major, F Lydian (major with raised 4th), G Mixolydian (major with a lowered 7th) and A Aeolian (minor). The tabor pipe side can be used for mostly long chord/drone notes or with more lively moving notes. The line between harmony and melody gets a bit blurry with the moving notes but that is part of the charm.
Notice that the two sides are even closer together making it very easy for the fingers to reach all the holes on both whistles.

I know I haven't even come close to figuring out everything I can do with this yet. But here is a sample of what I've done so far. (This track was recorded beside a rushing creek after a heavy downpour.)

I said at the beginning this is a drunk whistle player trick. But I actually think it is more than that. I think this instrument shows a heavy influence from South American Indigenous flute music which delights in using multiple flutes at once. Both by having a single player handle two (or more) instruments and by having multiple players on flutes.
So I suppose it only makes sense that next I got a double ocarina, an instrument that originated in South America. The double ocarina has two chambers a fifth apart that each play one octave with a completely different fingering arrangement than I'm used to. The tone is dark and rich in spite of being high. This all makes this instrument quite different from the other doubles, especially how the tonic note shifts from one key to another in the middle of a tune!

So that's how a whim became a whole new set of musical ideas and experiences. I'll just be heading off to play some solo duets now...

July 31, 2019

Album 3; A Few Flutes Shy...

Got the digital tracks uploaded! Still working on getting physical CDs ready. (Been distracted by some non-music related tasks-Silly reality!)
Here's a look at the art and program notes to the 3rd solo recording of a mad flutist!

Available at CDBaby "A Few Flutes Shy of a Flutter" and the usual music sites.

June 11, 2019

A Herd of Turtles or Who Stole My Flute?

Lately, I’ve been reading about Turtles and Tortoises in folk tales and mythologies. It wasn’t deliberate. I went looking for some stories about music from the Americas because I realized there was a gap in my musical mythology there. What I found was a herd of musically inclined Turtles/Tortoises ranging from North to South America in a wide range of cultures and stories. 
Some of them whistle, some dance, some play flutes and many of them are tricksters and pranksters. Sometimes the Turtle/Tortoise make their own flute and other times they steal it from someone else. In a North American story, Vulture gets quite upset over having his flute stolen in one story and carries the hard-backed thief into the sky and drops him, thus explaining the "broken" patterns on Turtle's shell. They play a wide range of flutes too: ocarinas, rim-blown flutes (like quenas), pan-pipes and quill-pipes to name the ones I've run across. (The Andes in South America have a wide range of different styles of flutes.) I think I like the South American story of the Tortoise wanting to sing like all the birds in the world, and inventing flutes to do so, the best.
I have run into Turtles linked to music in stories from Europe too but no where near as frequently and those Turtles aren’t cast as musicians themselves as often either (The Greek invention of the lyre was inspired by a Turtle though the poor guy gets killed in the process). The American Turtles/Tortoises make music themselves and have a good deal more fun even when they get in over their heads. The slow, thoughtful trickster figure (instead of the rapid fire ones more commonly mentioned) has been lots of fun to read about even without the musical enticement (which of course I love too.)
I have gotten quite fond of the idea of a Great Musical Turtle traveling across the land causing trouble, making people laugh and dance. And I admit to identifying with those flute playing Turtles when I’m going to a show and carrying every instrument I own on my back.