There are lots of examples of composers using walking as a method for inquiry or as part of their practice - Elliott Carter took a daily walk down 12th street in Manhattan, and, famously, Bach walked 300 miles to hear Buxtehude play - but a composer from Seattle is taking the idea of walking and sonic cartography to a new place. Starting in mid-April composer Nat Evans will be walking 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail as a mobile residency, composing a new long-form work along the way. He'll also be making lots of field recordings while walking, which will be sent through the mail to a series of West Coast collaborators. Each composer will then take the field recordings and layer a brief musical response over top of it and post these short pieces online so that people can hear how the landscape (and people living nearby) change as Evans inches ever northward. In the end, the collection of new pieces by the consortium of West Coast composers and the new piece by Evans will be recorded and released on Quakebasket Records.
Evans has consistently used field recordings in a variety of ways in his compositions to engender a sense of place or to explore new concepts of counterpoint when paired with traditional instruments, but by using them in this way the series of pieces become a 9-part 2600-plus-miles site specific five month event and body of work. It’s also a way to showcase the variety of music being made on the West Coast. Collaborating composers (south to north) include Carolyn Chen, Scott Worthington, Andrew Tholl, Chris Kallmyer, Brenna Noonan, Scott Unrein, Hanna Benn, and John Teske - a group of people that do everything from performing with internationally touring bands to making music with babies, from tide charts as method for data sonification to pieces for subwoofer or music written to last all night.
Currently the consortium of composers and Evans are conducting a campaign to raise funds for commissions for everyone, to help record everything, and to help feed Nat as he ambles northward! You can have a look at their campaign and learn more about this fascinating project right here, and have a listen to some of the composers work below.