The Tortoise and His Raincoat: Music for a Very Long Walk

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.

Hanna Benn:

Chris Kallmyer:

Brenna Noonan:

Scott Worthington:

Featured listening this week: Thomas Lang - Percussion Duo

Program Notes by Thomas Lang:

A commission from percussionist Sean Kleve and pianist Jennifer Hedstrom of the Madison, WI percussion ensemble Clocks in Motion, this three movement work for piano and stacked marimba and vibraphone represents a shift away from several immediately preceding works that I wrote where I drew inspiration from another source (i.e. visual art, poetry, and television). It was refreshing yet somewhat challenging to return to “absolute” music, but I absolutely enjoyed writing for this colorful collection of instruments that work together in a wonderful way to create not necessarily a duo, but a solo for one, giant instrument. If I say much more, I fear that I will divulge too much as to take this music out of the absolute and into something else entirely, but it may already be too late—and it is impossible to do this anyway—for if you’re reading this before listening to the music, I’ve already altered how you will perceive the sounds. Clocks in Motion premiered the work on 13 December 2013 at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, and they are performing it again at the Interlochen Center for the Arts on 5 March 2014.


Thomas Lang - Percussion Duo

Jennifer Hedstrom, piano; Sean Kleve, marimba and vibraphone

Featured listening this week: Christopher Cerrone's Invisible Cities

In anticipation of  The Industry's upcoming world premiere production of Christopher Cerrone's Invisible Cities in Los Angeles (Oct 9 - Nov 8), check out the excerpt below from the first scene of the opera. Stay up to date with Kinetics Radio in the next few weeks as we will be featuring Invisible Cities leading up to its world premiere!

Carlsbad Music Festival Starts Today

Those of you in Southern California should not miss out on the Carlsbad Music Festival this weekend. For the past 10 years, Carlsbad has programmed some of the most exciting composers and artists from around the world and this year proves to have one of the best lineups including Steven Mackey, the Calder Quartet, recent Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, What's Next? Ensemble, and Ian Rosenbaum.