Yosemite Soundscapes began as a collaboration between scientist, Eric Berlow, and myself, in 2009. Eric knew all the great spots in Yosemite’s alpine meadows, and brought me along to help convey the emotional and spiritual side of his analytical data through music. We hiked up to 10,000 feet with a saxophone and a boom mic to capture my music with nature as a backdrop. I found that my emotional connection to nature was so deep, that it inspired my compositional ideas to really soar. I got psyched to share the spirit of Yosemite with my fellow denizens of the city.
“The View From Above” is a collection of short compositions for alto saxophone and bass clarinet, woven together by the sounds of the Yosemite backcountry. I use the music of flowing inlets to create theatrical crescendos, falling rocks as my rhythm section, the tone of frogs to blend with the timbre of my bass clarinet, and have conversations between birds and my saxophone. The result is a cinematic sound journey that momentarily takes us away from our noisy city lives, and transports us to where the human spirit is uplifted by the serenity of nature.
You can preview two movements from "the View From Above" HERE.
You can also see me perform Yosemite Soundscapes at the Switchboard Music Festival HERE.
After years of having this idea on the back burner, I'm finally able to devote the necessary time and energy to complete the project. I want to take my ideas into the music studio and properly document this important work. The intent is to create an album of material for all of those people that, either love Yosemite, and want to reminisce, or for those that have never been to Yosemite, and want to hear how amazing this natural gift is to us. I want to excite people to visit Yosemite for the first time, or go back with fresh eyes and ears. I want to share with my community, and the world, the creative energy that Yosemite can stir within us.
In the event that we surpass our financial goal, I'd like to use the additional funds in two ways:
1. I'd love to take this concept into the schools of Oakland. I'd like to inspire inner city youth to create their own soundscape, either through field recordings in nature, or through their own environment, and apply it to the music that they create. There's music happening all around us, whether it be in the city or in nature. If we focus on teenagers, who have started to develop their own voice or instrument, perhaps we can show them a new angle, or new inspiration to their artistry. Taking hip hop beats, for example, and using field recordings as the primary source of samples, can open up a whole new palate of ideas to cultivate, potentially making budding artists look at their music in a new way. I know music saved my ass in school, by giving me a sense of purpose, and I'd like to help a few kids find their passion and a way to express it.
2. I'm interested in applying this idea to other national parks. I've always wanted to see Yellowstone, Brice Canyon, and Mount Rainier. I'd like to team up with the great national treasures of our country, and convey the sounds and feelings that are conjured within us, when we see such beauty on a grand scale.
On a more personal note, the very last movement of Yosemite Soundscapes is a tribute to my friend, Shay, who passed away in 2009. Shay was a music lover, and a lover of nature. One day, after her death, I went on a mission to find the Yosemite toad. I hit record in a gorgeous meadow to see what I could capture as I went further into the bush. When I came back, I felt Shay's presence amongst the trees. That "random" field recording set the stage for a movement that honored her memory, and it inspired me to write a requiem for her. Recording this piece would be a great way to honor Shay's legacy.
Risks and challenges
Despite my efforts, this project hasn't been able to get support from the traditional avenues. Kickstarter enables artists, like myself, to reach a wider audience, and work with my community to share important artwork in the world.
Finishing a project like Yosemite Soundscapes takes time, energy, and money to complete. I need the backing of my community to help me achieve this goal, one of the greatest artistic works in my life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)