Shipherd (2024) is based on ambisonic field recordings from Oberlin’s Shipherd Circle neighborhood. Having recently moved from suburban New Jersey to rural Ohio, I was interested in how this change in soundscape would impact my experience of place. Two sounds were the most notable: my neighbors’ goats, which evoked the pastoral landscape I had always associated with Oberlin, and the loud mechanical hum of a methane recycling plant that opened a month after I moved to town, which did not.

Shipherd begins with natural ambience recorded in my backyard, followed by the bassoons providing a “spectral” accompaniment to the methane plant’s drone. This is followed by a minimalistic-pastoral quotation from Mussorgsky’s art song The Goat, which transitions into the sounds of goats clomping around. Finally, the listener is immersed in a surround sound recording of goat bleating echoed by bassoons.

Shipherd is the fourth work in my Rhythmanalysis series for acoustic instruments and field recordings. Philosopher Henri Lefebvre developed the concept of Rhythmanalysis to analyze how the periodic sounds of urban spaces relate to the experience of a place.

Special thanks to bassoonists Dana Jessen and Drew Pattison, as well as Erin and Jesse Jones for letting me record their goats.

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