Over the next few posts, I would like to give you samples of piano music from our recent, first recording sessions, in order of their appearance in the piece.
In the beginning is “Rain Sequence”. Here is an excerpt in which you hear the gentle, gradual layering of pianos one upon another, coming to represent “over a week of heavy rainfall” prior to the Aberfan Disaster:
Both Michael and I are deeply excited to continue recording, but we’ll need your support to do so. Everydonation is greatly appreciated.
Going into Boston tomorrow to begin recording Aberfan with Michael. Almost hard to believe. Excited!
Here is a demo excerpt from the initial “Rain Sequence”, written for seven pianos on the same part at different tempos. Seven is representative of Tip No. 7, the one that collapsed:
Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization. Contributions are tax deductible. Please become a part of this endeavor by making a donation. One specific, immediate need is payment for the piano tuner: $125
Today it’s raining. I can hear the drops on our metal roof. This is how it was when I was working on the Rain Sequence of Aberfan — realizing that rain falls haphazardly, scattershot, as if random. Yet it is a precisely created pattern.
Here is the very beginning of Aberfan, a few minutes of rain, one piano entering after the other.
Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts. Please make a donation towards its recording here.
Aberfan articulates a broadening and deepening of artistic practice, far beyond what I’ve ever experienced, yet is inclusive of everything before it — the search, over years, for my own creative voice in composition. Propelling itself through me, Aberfan is its own whole, symbol of what is most lacking in our world, as in our families and deep within ourselves, natural expression is desecrated and buried, just as our land is leveled.
Here is an excerpt of 2 pianos from Aberfan, the aftermath of a man-made disaster, a mix of rain and rubble.
Rain Sequence — an intuitive formula of prime numbers, of fate and its irrevocable movement — increasing failure, descent and dissolution —
The disaster itself occurred on 21st October 1966 at about 9:15 am. The day was calm and sunny at 7:30 am, when the team of men responsible for the dumping of mine waste on Tip 7 arrived for work. At the top they found the tip had subsided by about three metres. (The Landslide Blog)
Aberfan is an elegy not only for the people of Aberfan who suffered the loss of a generation and the “wounded soul of the Welsh” who saw “their beautiful country being destroyed when the coal mines came to the valleys”, but for our world, besieged by unbridled industry pillaging the land and exploiting its riches for the few. The tragedy of Aberfan and the music it informed manifest the abject sorrow and rage resulting from the devastating human and environmental impacts of the fossil fuel industry, more recently embodied by mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking to extract natural gas. This project confronts our blindness and aims to disrupt our complacency.
Aberfan will be participatory. In choosing the entrances of pianos #2-7, individuals will be deciding the composition and experiencing their own involvement in its unfolding. Merging the music of Aberfan and photos of this particular disaster’s psychic aftermath lays bare the great cost of ignoring the habituated, presumptive violence in our human systems.
The penetrating quality of musical vibrations in synergy with photographic art, resonating where words cannot, evokes a greater world where all are connected as living beings on a living earth. In bearing witness to the single atrocity of Aberfan, one can begin to question the arrogance of “progress” built on destruction, absent the soul.
For the performance or installation of Aberfan, money is needed to create a studio recording and develop a design for the visual element. My hope is for presentation across the United States within the next several years. Donations can be made online.
Here is an example, in musical language, of the consequence of our offensive display of superiority over nature. Rain and Rubble Sequences have been spliced and put back together in alternating measures. Excerpt: Aberfan, “Rain – Rubble”
Thank your for considering the enduring social and artistic significance of Aberfan and its challenge to halt our drive towards extinction.
Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization. Contributions are tax deductible.
Photo upper right courtesy Alan George. Overview of collapsed rooves and throng of people behind school. Aberfan, 1966.