In 2017 MAZE gave a stunning interpretation of Jitterbug at the Tactile Paths Festival in Berlin, full of subtle detail and fluid energy. That they have returned to the work now – and have also created this beautiful realization of bayou-borne, for Pauline – is something for which I am deeply grateful.
Both works draw on improvisation and are guided by graphic imagery: of a river system in Texas and of rocks from the Continental Divide in Montana.
Bayou-born, for Pauline (2016) is dedicated to Pauline Oliveros and was composed with her passions in mind. She was born in Houston, Texas, so I created a graphic score from a map of the six bayous which flow through the city to Galveston Bay, thinking that she would have known one or all of those rivers intimately as a child – swimming, wading, river mud between her toes. She was a superb improviser, so it is scored for six improvising musicians with each player reading one of the rivers as a guide. Their lines move independently at first, coming closer together at the confluences to form duets and trios, before converging at the red star, the whole sound darkening as they approach Houston in memory of the devastation and deaths caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
This is one of eighty-five scores contributed to a memorial celebration of Pauline’s life: Still Listening: New Works in Honour of Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016), held at McGill University, Canada, in 2017. I wish to thank Doris Yokelson for the design of the map.
A rock surface is not perhaps the most intuitive choice on which to base a graphic score, but I was looking for something which might be an unfamiliar stimulus for the musicians of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which commissioned me to make a piece for a new dance, eyeSpace, in 2006. That summer I was recording aquatic insects up in the Rockies near Glacier Park, Montana for the piece, and started collecting rocks from the area, striated with unusually clear and beautiful markings. This underlying connection between image and sound is important to me, and of course, the title was irresistible.
Six of these rocks were photographed by Gwen Deely. The players interpret two or three agreed-upon images together, one after another within a predetermined time frame, reading each image in layers from right to left and from bottom to top, as described in the textual score.
I have composed pre-recorded sound files, or episodes, which create an expanded sound world around the players, drawn from those aquatic bugs and from terrestrial insects.* These recordings are interwoven with resonant tones from bowed gongs and piano strings performed by Gustavo Aguilar, Joseph Kubera and William Winant, and recorded for the project by sound engineers Marilyn Ries and Maggi Payne. In performance, these episodes are brought into the mix by an additional player according to the evolving shape of the piece.
— Annea Lockwood, December 2021 —
*recorded by Lang Elliott, the NatureSound Studio and The Music of Nature.
Annea Lockwood (1939, New Zealand) is known for her explorations of natural acoustic sounds and environments, making works on the intersection of body, environment, sound and text – a life’s work that equally highlights acts of generous listening, invitational composition and a hunger for considered experimentation.
Having started studying electronic music in the 1960’s with Gottfried Michael Koenig, learning to synthesize, measure, serialize and edit sounds, at some point she had a major epiphany .
when she witnessed a performance with La Monte Young slowly pushing a chair across the floor, emanating an unstable ever-changing but continuous sound.
This was a sound not ‘composed’ by anyone, but it seemed to have an agency of its own, an inherent vitality that could totally engage our ears. From that moment on, she decided to concentrate on working with untreated unaltered sounds, whether coming from the environment, from non-intentional situations or from open instructions to performers, all sounds becoming alive by the act of listening.
Annea Lockwood became a pioneer in the use of field recordings, creating groundbreaking installations like the soundmaps from the Hudson or Danube rivers, or performances like Glass World. Much of her work has been focused on the fluidity of rivers, the vibratory shimmer of oceans and lakes, and the pulsation of waves.
“In general, I experience sound so strongly in and through my body that it brings me a real visceral sense of connection to whatever I’m listening to, and that is probably true for many of us. That, to me, is a powerful embodied, often unconscious reminder that I am not separate from the world around me, and I suspect this is true for many people. And is, in itself, a creative practice.”
In the last decade her environmental works have gained an extra dimension related to the imminent dangers posed by climate change. Also the responsibility her scores give to the performers take on an additional depth. As performers we are asked to respect the sounds, let them come naturally, follow them, not push them around, and also take responsibility for them – to take responsibility for the musical environment and everybody in it – the environment we create, influence and are influenced by.
Reinier van Houdt, 8 January 2022
MAZE is an Amsterdam based collective for exploratory music. They work on developing open forms, hybrid scores and notations, and performances that subvert hierarchies between listeners, musicians, composers and scores. Next to presenting their own works they collaborate with pioneering composers like Christian Marclay, Barbara Ellison, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, Okkyung Lee, Michael Pisaro, Peter Ablinger and Annea Lockwood.
… the name MAZE couldn’t be more appropriate for this endeavour … gauzy webs form in the darkness, thicken and soon dissolve into other tentative textures … this is a very unusual interplay in which the unfolding of highly subjective personal dimensions invoked by each performer will have in turn its implications in the personal environments of the listeners: it’s like being written into a Jorge Luis Borges story …
Stuart Marshall, The Sound Projector.
released April 21, 2022
Composed by Annea Lockwood
Performed by Maze
Anne La Berg: flutes, electronics
Dario Calderone: double bass
Gareth Davis: bass clarinet
Yannis Kyariakides: electronics
Wiek Hijmans: electric guitar
Reinier van Houdt: piano, eletronics
Recorded by Hans van Eck at Splendor, Amsterdam, 3 July, 2021.
Mixed by Reinier van Houdt and Yannis Kyriakides
Mastered by Jos Smolders at EARLabs
Design by Rutger Zuydervelt
Bayou-borne map by Doris Yokelson
Rock photo by Gwen Deely