Lyrebird: a performance : soprano with ensemble
by Stephen Adams (2012)
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Lyrebird: a performance draws on the sounds of the lyrebirds of the Jamison Valley, incorporating recordings I made there in January 2012. Lyrebirds are great mimics with a seemingly endless medley of borrowed songs from the birds of the Australian forest, interrupted by the curiously electronic sounds of their own species calls. They are ancient birds with something of the dinosaur in their movements. When not in full performance, dancing and singing with a mixture of private intensity and public display, they may be seen scratching about among the leaf matter, seemingly re-arranging their abode or searching for some special object. You are invited as a voyeur to a private/public display - a weaving together of the songs of a lyrebird of the Jamison Valleyand the lyrebird-like soundworld and borrowed tunes of our three human performers. And yes, mimicry and the morphing of familiar tunes and objects is very much a part of this game of cross-species polyphony, with an affectionate nod to Rodgers and Hammerstein (via John Coltrane), Joni Mitchell and George Crumb.
Instrumentation: Soprano, viola and percussion (3 toms, high timbale, hi-hat, ride, guiro, cowbell, plastic sleeve-holders, referee whistle, and self-selected 'matching' kitchen objects) plus domestic audio play-back system (ideally an iPod with FM transmitter playing through a transistor radio) for two fileld recording files (provided by the composer).
Duration: 10 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — 3 independent parts plus instruction (no score) with non-standard staging and unconventional singing and playing techniques.
Contents note: Part I - ‘Preparation’ (private space) -- Part II - ‘Performance’ (public space) -- Part III - ‘Reflection’ (interior space – ‘the long tail’, with pun intended).
Commission note: Commissioned by Chronology Arts.. Commissioned by Chronology Arts for the Lyrebird Project with Halcyon. Developed through a workshop process with soprano Alison Morgan, and later percussionist Joshua Hill and violist Luke Spicer.
Three independent parts plus instruction sheet (no score). Duration is highly approximate based on performer decisions and open duration of performance prelude to notated music. Ideal for start of concert or as post-interval item, enabling start of piece to emerge naturally in context of audience arrivals and settling. Opportunity for creative staging and use of lighting (whether domestic lamps or professional lights, depending on size and nature of venue and on whole concert aesthetic). Unconventional singing and playing techniques. Not improvised, but a high degree of flexibility and indeterminacy of relationships interacting with cues and moments of synchronisation.
- Inspired by: Birdsong
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