Mythical Spaces

Program Note

Mythical Spaces explores the blurred boundaries between physical and imaginary locations where myths take place. Each movement depicts a sonic landscape that serves as a musical reflection of a mythical space with cross-cultural significance. Each space’s sound world is evoked through the use of a different custom-built amplified vessel for each movement.

 

I. Underground

In creation myths from the American Southwest and Trobriand Islands, people and Gods live underground until they emerge into our world. Featuring an amplified pot of dirt, Underground explores this primordial subterranean world. Emergence to the surface represents a journey from darkness to light.

 

II. Water

The Earth-diver myth is one of the most diffuse origin myths. In this myth, a being creates habitable land by diving to the bottom of the primordial ocean to collect a grain of sand. Water retells this creation story—from a single piece of dirt dropped into a bowl of water, amplified with a hydrophone, to a shimmering harmonic landscape.

 

III. Forest

Animist beliefs from Sub-Saharan Africa to Japan imbue the individual elements of the forest with living spirits. Rubbing and striking an amplified wooden bowl evokes wind rustling through the trees and an environment rich with the energy of spirits.

 

IV. Mountain

Mt. Everest, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Denali, and Mt. Fuji are examples of sacred mountains. The natural decay from loud rolls performed on a bass drum and amplified Styrofoam cooler combine with the electroacoustic part to produce a sense of magnitude and distance evoked by these sacred mountains.

 

V. Temple

Temples are human constructions that connect our world and the heavens—they are a bridge to a mythical place. This movement employs an amplified metal bowl, metal being a human-made material. Temple begins with slow rhythms over a droning texture, followed by an ascending, rapid run on the glockenspiel that represents spiritual transcendence.

 

Mythical Spaces was written in 2010 for percussionist Shawn Savageau. It is recorded by Mike Truesdell on the album Mythical Spaces, which was released by Ravello Records in 2018.

 

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