Lunas y Agua - Place, Time, Music
In the spring of 2018, after living in the DC/Baltimore region for many years, I moved close to Orlando, Florida. My sense of home and belonging grew as I respectfully started trying to connect with the place and with all the amazing plant and animal communities I would be sharing it with - gators and spiders and palms, oh my! Sunrises and Moonrises are often astonishingly beautiful here. The play of light between sky and water is always engaging and moving. I quickly realized that the nearby lake afforded a view of every sunrise as Grandmother Sun journeyed across the horizon from Solstice to Solstice and back again.
Eventually, I began taking photos and short videos with my little iPhone 6 (even in 2018, already nearly obsolete) while walking the area and hanging out by the lake and ponds. Back in my studio, I would improvise short responses on my flutes, recording fragments on my phone when something stuck. The Florida ecosystems are endlessly inspiring -
although it is horrifying what is being done to them on a daily basis, but that is a different discussion for another time.
By late 2018, a project was shaping up that eventually became Lunas y Agua. The idea was to make something of a musical remembrance or “Winter Count” of a full year. For each Lunar Cycle (13 in all for the year), I would collect visual images and make improvised audio sketches. Each month’s collection would would then be filtered, shaped and eventually notated as a Graphic Score which would highlight encounters from each month and provide a framework for a structured improvisation that could be performed by any musician or group of musicians on the instruments of their choice. Of course, my first performances would be solos on various Native Flutes.
So, Lunas y Agua is a set of thirteen songs that are structured improvisations. They are “notated” as thirteen Graphic Scores, each documenting encounters, memories and musical musings from one Lunar Month (New Moon to New Moon) here in central Florida. Lunas y Agua #1 runs from December 7, 2018 to January 5, 2019 with other pieces following all the way through to Lunas y Agua #13, November 26 to December 25, 2019. Most of 2020 was spent sifting through the material, gradually developing the energy and structure of each piece as well as the look of the scores.
I am a musician and am no kind of visual artist. I make no artistic claims about the photos, videos or the Graphic Scores themselves. I like the look of the scores a lot, but the project is essentially about whatever music results.
(to the right is Lunas y Agua #4. Above is one of the source photos)
My interest in Graphic Scores was reignited by a strong connection with Tom Arthurs that I made while serving as Alumnus Artist in Residence at Music Omi a few years ago. During our residency, Tom created a beautiful structured improvisation notated as a Graphic Score that celebrated bits of his experiences there. He invited me to help with the performance of the piece on our closing concert. We also had some really good jams and excellent conversations along the way. Tom is a wonderful person, the best trumpeter I have ever heard and a world class musician. If you don’t know his music, you are really missing something. Of course, another important influence is the flutes themselves, which certainly shaped the music day to day. All of the flutes used on the project were created by Colyn Petersen at woodlandvoices.com.
Over the next year or so, I will be creating tracks and videos that are solo Native flute performances of the Lunas y Agua pieces. The videos will be available on my YouTube channel, starting with Lunas y Agua #1 in mid-March, 2021. There will also be some background videos about how the scores were actually made and about some of the playing techniques heard in the pieces. The audio tracks may, at some point, be released as singles on the usual streaming and download sites. After that, if there is interest, I may do more versions with additional instruments and/or musicians.
It has been quite a journey so far and there is much more ahead. It is time to invite others to join in. I hope you will come along.