Swirling Leaves



Swirling Leaves (Racheal Cogan 2015)

Geri Bollinger: Contrabass Recorder

Racheal Cogan: Tenor Recorders  and  Bass Recorder

Mixing: Racheal Cogan

All recorders made by Geri Bollinger


The instrument all pulled apart - including optional mouthpiece.

Tenor Recorder (by Geri Bollinger). Here the  instrument is all pulled apart – including the optional mouthpiece.

Tenor Recorder (Geri Bollinger)


I wrote this piece to celebrate a tenor recorder that Geri Bollinger had very generously given to me. It is a beautiful instrument (you can see it in the pictures) with a unique headpiece. The headpiece is in two parts. When the parts are together, it can be played like a fairly traditional style recorder. When the top alone is used, with small adjustments of the mouth and face, you can have control of pitch, dynamics, and the timbre of the instrument. The timbral spectrum is awesome – all the way from a super breathy sound to the more pure tones of a typical recorder. When you listen to this piece you will be able to hear the breathy tones exploited in what I call the more Carnivale like sections in the music. For me, this quartet has the feel of walking through rustling autumn leaves in a broken down Carnival site whilst the wind noisily shakes out the trees.

Awesome Contrabass Recorder

Awesome Contrabass Recorder

Many thanks go to Geri for playing the Contrabass in this recording and for his invaluable advice and suggestions.

Swirling Leaves is written for two Tenor Recorders, Bass Recorder and Contrabass Recorder.

Geri’s website is here:




Sughisti (Racheal Cogan 2014)

Geri Bollinger – Greatbass and Contrabass Recorders (instruments also designed and made by Geri Bollinger)

Racheal Cogan – EAGLE Alto Recorder (designed and made by Adriana Breukink and Geri Bollinger) and Küng Bass Recorder (designed and made by Geri Bollinger).

Mixing – Racheal Cogan

Geri's Sugo

Geri’s Sugo


Sughisti is a gift for a new friend, Geri Bollinger. Geri came across my website with a photo of me holding one of his lovely Küng bass recorders, heard my music and sent me an email out of the blue, thus beginning a friendship of music, recorders, and recording.

We started writing to each other over a summer that saw both of us, one in Canada and the other in Switzerland, cooking up and bottling tomato sauces from the abundant summer harvests. That year I bought boxes and boxes of tomatoes and bottled them plain, as ketchup, as pasta sauce, and dehydrated a large batch as well: all to ferret away for the long, insistently cold and icy Winter in Alberta.

Geri called his bottled tomato sauce Sugo. Sughisti are sauce makers. This piece is titled for the background food of all the music and instruments that we were both making and writing to each other about. The recording itself was made from across the two sides of the earth. Geri plays the Contrabass in F and a Greatbass, he built and designed both of them. I play the Alto Eagle recorder that he and Adriana Breukink designed and make, and the Küng Bass Recorder that Geri also designed and built. I had both recorders before I met him, so perhaps we were already on the way to working together before we realised it. The instruments that Geri makes are simply awesome.

Geri made a lot of great suggestions for this piece – it wouldn’t have been the same without his input. He says that I compose, he builds instruments, and we both cook with sounds making Sugo for the ears! We both enjoy good homemade sauces and very cool homemade sounds. We hope that you like our music too!

Geri’s instruments, Adriana’s instruments, and so many more that I haven’t yet tried are re-defining what it means to be a recorder player. Flexibility of tone, larger registers, ease of playing notes, evenness of tone throughout the register, louder possibilities, more control over dynamics, and a range of unique timbres from each incredible design is opening so many creative possibilities for those of us that play the recorder.  There is now even more beauty for the possibilities of the music that we can create with them.

Geri’s awesome instruments are here: geri-bollinger.ch

The bold and beautiful Eagle recorders here: eagle-recorder.com

Adriana’s Instruments are here: adrianabreukink.com

Küng instruments here: kueng-blockfloeten.ch

Geri made a video of this music here:

The score of Sughisti is soon to be published by Edition Tre Fontane in 2015.

It Snows Here



♦ Racheal Cogan – composer, recorders, harpsichord, mixing

Kung Bass Recorder (designed and built by Geri Bollinger), Treble recorder (by Michael Grinter)

♦ Tony Lewis – tombak

♦ Jay Elfenbein- bass Viola da Gamba

♦ Wendy Rowlands – viola

♦ Jonathan Lewis – violin

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This project could not have existed without the generosity and beautiful playing of the four musicians. They all contributed from different parts of the globe: Wendy and Tony in Australia, Tony in Sydney, and Wendy in rural Newstead (Victoria). Jay recorded his parts in France, and Jonathan (closer to me) in Calgary. I thank them all for so generously giving their time and skills to this project. Tony also for his invaluable mixing advice.

A big thanks goes to Violaine Corradi for the ideas and advice she so generously gave that allowed this piece to develop beyond my expectations and preconceived ideas.

Whilst working on the last parts of It Snows Here, my mind often turned to my dear friend Lucille who passed away late last year as I started sketching this project out. This piece is dedicated to you Lucille who squeezed every last drop of living (and way more) out of life. You taught me  how to make a tomato pasta sauce and how to select the freshest of produce. My stomach thanks you every time I eat.

Last week I worked on the final mix as it snowed for three days outside my window. The trees hadn’t even thought about dropping their leaves or changing color, so the weight of the snow on their lush leafed branches caused a lot of destruction to the deciduous trees in Calgary. Many lovely old trees were lost in this time.

In this place I am learning about the cold, the ice, and most of all – the snow that can fall for 8 months of the year.

Midday, midwinter, just outside Canmore.

Midday, midwinter, just outside Canmore.


Tanpura (Racheal Cogan 2014)

Paetzold Contrabass (by Herbert Paetzold), Kung Bass Recorder (designed and built by Geri Bollinger), Ganassi in G and C ( by Michael Grinter), Futujara ( by Vladiswar Nadishana),

Bells, Gongs, Skiddaw Stones, Tubular Bells (from soniccouture).


I have always loved the resonance of the tanpura and jealously adored the overlapping resonance of this plucked string, drone type instrument.

I was aiming for the same feeling of resonance and notes overlapping on recorders – like a large organ, but with the sounds coming from different places and each with their own unique tone, length, and shape from the minds of each individual player.

With that in mind,  I began shaping this meditative piece with each note played into a different track, overlapping the one before to create long phrases made up of different players working together to make a cohesive, integrated whole. Even though it’s just myself playing each track, as I created this piece I envisioned many players coming together to make up a moment of resonant space and sound. As I worked, this music felt to me like a form of falling deeper and deeper into an ocean.

Listen with a good set of headphones in a quiet space.

The image is a painting from a very dear friend who is an incredible and dedicated artist – Mitch Lang. I have adored both her and her art for at least 25 years now. The world is a richer and more generous place for her being in it.

Australian Waters by Mitch Lang

Australian Waters
by Mitch Lang

 Mitch’s image is both a reflection on living by the sea and the current Australian Government’s long term and increasingly callous and inhumane treatment of refugees seeking asylum by boat in Australia.

Thank you to Violaine Corradi for always encouraging me to go yet further and to Andrew for always listening.


One of my favorite sounds on recorders is that of fingers slapping on the finger holes or keys. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit sitting with the sound hole up against my ear making up percussive pieces with just this sound. It’s awesome. But it is very very soft and something that is hard to share with other people. Enter a microphone and the sound can be boosted loud enough to share and a whole lot of instruments can be heard doing this all together!

This is a short piece based around those sounds on recorders ranging from those as tall as me (and deep) to the tiny high sopranino.

I’ve had to boost the sounds up quite a bit to share them, so a bit of room noise can be heard and the birds outside managed to get in there as well. I like the hint of birds, they work well with the warbling fipple noises on a treble and later a bass recorder. I love the water like sounds this technique makes as well as the pitched percussive possibilities.

This was pretty fun to make. I know it sounds impossible, but I really do reckon recorders can do anything :)

Keys (Racheal Cogan 2014)

Paetzold Contrabass (by Herbert Paetzold), Kung Bass Recorder (designed and built by Geri Bollinger), Ganassi in C (by Michael Grinter), tenor recorder (by Takeyama), treble recorder (by Michael Grinter), High whistle in C (by Michael Grinter), Sopranino Recorder (Moech).

Photo by Mayu Kanamori.


Highlights from music recorded and written over the past two years for recorders with voices, percussion, violins and viola da gamba. Also bits of a piece using percussive and water like sounds from fingers slapping keys and recorder with a train.


The Door Opens:
(This piece features the usually very soft sounds of fingers slapping on key holes; when amplified it can sound both like tuned percussion and water.)
(Recorder with sounds of immensely long trains coming to and from the oil sands at the back of my home.)
The Wind Blows Through Me
It Snows Here
The Sky Moves Above Us
Two Geese
This is Grace

All works composed by Racheal Cogan
Racheal Cogan – lyrics, vocals, recorders:
Paetzold Contrabass (by Herbert Paetzold), Kung Bass Recorder (designed and built by Geri Bollinger), Ganassi in G and C (by Michael Grinter), Futujara (by Vladiswar Nadishana), tenor recorder (by Takeyama), treble recorder (by Michael Grinter), and a sump pipe.
Robert Poliquin – voice
Tony Lewis – percussion
Wendy Rowlands – violin and viola
Jay Elfenbein – bass Viola da Gamba

This is Grace

dedicated to the memory of George

Composition, lyrics and production: Racheal Cogan
Ganassi Recorders, tenor recorders, Bass Recorders, Paetzold Contrabass, treble recorders, whistle, overtone flute, vocals: Racheal Cogan
Male vocals: Robert Poliquin
Violins: Wendy Rowlands
Bass Viola da Gamba: Jay Elfenbein

All of the stories that hold our lives in place,
Can be scattered like ashes and blown away.
And blown away.

I pray my spirit to be whole.

It’s the stuttering, the stuttering between moments,
That reveals the sticky, sticky damage in the mind.
And all of the stories that hold our lives in place
Are scattered and blown away.

What is Grace?
I wash your body
I clean your wrappings
Is this grace?
This is grace.
I am your hands, your feet, your mind.
This is Grace.

I pray my spirit to be whole.


This work was inspired by a part-time job I took 6 months ago caring for George. George had advanced Alzheimer’s combined with Lewy bodies and was living at home in the primary care of his daughter. I was in a very practical way faced by the devastation that this disease brings to the individual and their loved ones, and to be honest, it terrified me.  It crept into my dreams in the form of nightmares where I was forced to face my fears and was often genuinely astounded that I remembered not only my name each morning but also all of the people in my life. To appear to lose the thread of our lives and the stories that hold it together is a frightening reality for the many people around us and their families who live with a form of dementia. Furthermore, the loss of connection with the body for even the most basic functions requires 24 observation, care and unlimited patience that has the potential to easily spiral downward into poverty, abuse, and abandonment. I was shocked by the inadequacies of a government system to help provide even the most basic medical needs for dignified palliative care in the home. To choose to look after a person with dementia, at home until they die, is a huge undertaking that will drain most people of all financial resources, cause them to be unable to work as the caring is so consistently demanding, and rob them of any sleep. I admire the courage and trust of George’s daughter to have cared for her father so lovingly and consistently despite what seemed to be unsurmountable odds.

George passed away as I was finishing this project. The music is dedicated to the courage in his daily will to live and enjoy the disjunct sparkling moments of life he had left to him. He was consistently patient, cheerful, polite and always thankful that there were people around him who cared for him as his mind and body deteriorated. He could never recall my name, despite the regular hours I spent with him, but to the day he died remained very clear who his daughter was.

I have been blessed by the three amazing musicians who participated in this project with me:
Wendy Rowlands, Jay Elfenbein, and Robert Poliquin.
They worked with me from disparate parts of the globe – Newstead, Australia; Paris, France; and Montreal, Canada.
Thank you so much for the time and generosity in each of your beautiful contributions.

Thanks to Violaine Corradi for listening and for your valuable insights and never-ending support.