Dreamscape (Racheal Cogan 2015)

Recorders (tenor, contrabass), voices and other sounds.

Recorders designed and made by Geri Bollinger.

Thank you Andrew, Geri, and Violaine for listening and being there.

This  soundscape is set in a dreamlike environment and the result of one of my favorite writing styles. The music developed from a very simple start experimenting with the looper on Ableton Live and adding to these sounds to create a structure that supported the music. At the start it was a very organic way of creating and layering that felt less like work and more like an opening of the self to a dreaming –  an inward looking form of creation that allows me to channel creativity rather than try to control it.

Nearer to completion, the music became crowded and lost its essence;  I spent days trying to pull it apart and re-work it – and everything just seemed to make it worse – less cohesive, muddy in both sound and texture, and just plain … lost. Eventually I sat with it quietly, erased even more, teased some more space into it so it could breathe again, and this time, I think I have it. Whatever it was meant to be is, and it is time to let it go and move on.

I kept a very open and minimal musical landscape (drenched in various delays and reverbs), with sparse and simple melodic lines to tie the whole together and give the mind something to sing with and rest with whilst listening to the music and the spaces in-between.

The percussion sounds are from the recorder. When you strike the holes/keys with the pads of your fingers it’s a very cool percussive sound – but it’s quite soft; in the recording environment it can be made loud and awesome. The bass-like sounds are also recorder percussion from a deep contrabass – pretty cool! These watery percussion sounds move seamlessly out of the real water sounds that surround us a few times in this piece. The metaphor of the water is cleansing the memory of the dream that went before.

Several ideas are threaded throughout this piece:

When I go for long drives by myself I often pass the time with my version of overtone singing – it keeps me awake and alert, at the same time being meditative (especially after an hour or so) and calming.  I had been doing some long driving whilst working on the music and the sound was very present – so I tried using some of that. Whilst working the overtone singing through the piece, it struck me that some airy whistling sounds would bring a nice high frequency wash – so I spent some time softly whistling into a microphone to find the ‘right’ sound I had imagined. Some of it sounds like it is between radio frequencies, other parts like wind over sand. From the desert to the ocean and tuning the dream to move between channels.

A sound that is woven through Dreamscape represents engines turning on at spaced intervals keeping a ship in space on the correct path (informed by the copious amounts of sci-fi literature I have consumed). It’s a metaphor for the part of the dreaming that keeps us on the path through all of the divergent twists and turns that our lives take, reminding us that we are traveling in the cocoon of our vehicle, be it our own bodies or the earth itself.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta

The next piece I’m currently working on is an arrangement of a song by Purcell for four/five recorders and voice – quite a different adventure to this one. Stay tuned!

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