Songlines

Original programme note:

a non-narrative narrative
1. lost for words | 2. found objects | 3. seachange

This piece has nothing directly to do with Australian culture, but it was inspired by the phenomenon of songlines. These ancient paths through the Australian landscape are not marked; navigation is achieved through knowledge of aboriginal songs that describe the landscape through which the paths travel. In my case, the ‘landscape’ was a large gathering of texts, primarily folk myths from a variety of cultures. Texts were deliberately chosen that had points in common, allowing a ‘path’ to be laid through them, travelling not only linearly – along a particular text; but also laterally – crossing between texts by means of these common points.

Songlines is not the landscape or the path, but rather a ‘song’ describing them. Only the faintest trace of the texts themselves remain. The map has been thrown away – path and landscape forgotten – leaving an abstract structure with the form and ceremony of a narrative, but none of the original content. One attraction of such a method of working is that the paths could be travelled any number of times, in any number of ways. This made it ideal for an open-ended project that could be open to input from a number of collaborators. This version was made with Lorne Christie (animation) and Tamara Cater (dance).

 

Additional Notes

• Written in response to a commission from the International Symposium on Electronic Arts and Silicon Graphics Ltd.
• Performed at a number of Electronic Arts and Music festivals, including ISEA (Helsinki), CREAT (St. Petersburg), Imagina (Paris), Sonic Arts Network PLUGGED! (London, South Bank) and the ICMC (Banff, Canada).
• Music won second prize in the programme music category at Bourges, and was released on a Chant du Monde CD.
• It also won first prize in the Concorso Luigi Russolo
• Released on a CD by the Fondazione Russolo-Pratella.
• Music broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

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