Notes from the premiere performance of Sounds of belonging on October 26, 2018:
Our relationship with place can be complex. Elements of sound, smell, sight, and atmosphere interweave with memory to inform our experience of a place. Repeated engagements with a place also shape (and reshape) our perceptions. The influence that place has on our identity and emotions “is part of the systems of meaning through which we make sense of the world.” (Gillian Rose, 1995)
I have lived in and traveled to Japan on a few occasions and returned in May for a concert tour, and to conduct research and gather field recordings for this project. For many years now I have been making field recordings. Fundamental to this practice is listening intently to the sounds (and silences) around you — the hums, buzzes, whirls and clanks (natural and human-made) that continuously fill our ears. Through this sort of sonic consciousness (which carries over into my daily and music-making life, I feel a deeper sense of connectedness, not just to place, but to being in this world.
As with most locations, many of the urban and rural sounds in Japan are uniquely characteristic of the culture, environment, and people. On this recent visit, tuning in to these sounds, so familiar to my ears, triggered memories and emotions from a deeply rooted past, while also lending familiarity and reassurance to the present moment.
While Sounds of belonging is in some ways inspired by the people, places (and sounds) that I encountered on that trip, it is by no means a musical portrait of a particular place or landscape. Instead, field recordings (on their own terms) are combined with live, amplified, improvised and scored sounds to create an abstract atmosphere to evoke a sense of place rather than reconstruct it. The intimacy, sometimes frailty, and perhaps familiarity of the sounds invites a listening (and performing) experience in which participants may find their own connections to place come to the surface.
I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.