A Walk in the Park Program & Notes
A Walk in the Park


Friday November 9th 2007 7:00 PM
Pozen Center Massachusetts College of Art

A Walk in the Park

for speaking Voice with Complementary Music

1. Two Interludes for Speaking Voice, Violin, Piano 6:00

Mary Briggs, Zayde Buti - Speaking Voice
Marla Rathbun - Violin
John Holland - Piano
a. A Walk in the Park (Part 1)

2. A Common Ancestor (Nos. 1-3) 5:50

b. A Walk in the Park (Part 2)

3. A Common Ancestor (Nos. 4-7) 7:15

c. A Walk in the Park (Part 3)

4. A Common Ancestor (Nos. 8-10) 3:46

d. A Walk in the Park (Part 4)

5. 12 Haiku for Speaking Voice and Violin * 5:00

Marla Rathbun - Violin
John Holland - Speaking Voice

* the 12 Haiku will be performed twice

Glenna Van Nostrand: sound and lighting

Program Notes

A Walk in the Park is a version of a text written for the InvisibleIdeas project, presented by Nature and Inquiry artists group as part ofthe 2003 Boston Cyberarts Festival. The artwork linked landscape andideas to locations on Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Boston PublicGarden, and the Boston Common via a GPS-enabled handheld computer.Participants experienced the spoken text through headphones as theywalked through the parks. In the walk, individuals were invited toexplore the interplay between natural phenomena and human consciousness.

A Walk in the Park was written as a performance text to be spoken aloudbetween the presentation of five recorded and/or 'live' musical pieces.There are four sections of the text. In this performance, electronicmusic from A Common Ancestor is presented between each of the sections.Two ‘live’ pieces are presented at the beginning and end of theprogram, respectively.

The content of the text reflects aspects of culture, science, and the environment.

Two Interludes for Speaking Voice, Violin, Piano

Two Interludes are based on 14 short quotations praising the virtues of nature by luminaries ranging from Zeno, Leonardo, and Galileo to Rachel Carson and Lynn Margulis.

A Common Ancestor

Electroacoustic Music

The music for A Common Ancestor contains an assembly of sampled sounds, including insects, birds, animals, as well as environmental sounds from forest, wetland, desert, ocean. The music is divided into ten contiguous sections. The sampled sounds within each section have been modified using signal processing or have been used to trigger various sound generators via MIDI control. The structure of the music is generated from integers derived from the letters of the names of each creature, or environmental sound. The integers determine the duration of sound or silence for each voice. In addition to the processed sound, sampled sounds occur throughout the music in their purely acoustic form, providing secondary voices that form a quiet textural background.
  1. Amazon Forest (2:16, Audio Signal Processors)
    Baboon, Kingfisher, Wasp, Brook, Rainforest
  2. Riding the Waves (1:44, MIDI Synthesizers)
    Dolphin, Gray Seal, Sea Lion, Blue Whale, Ocean Waves
  3. African Plain (1:50, MIDI Synthesizers)
    Elephant, Rhinoceros, Hyena, Zebra
  4. Songbirds of North America and Europe (1:27, MIDI Synthesizers)
    Canary, Mocking Bird, Nightingale, Whippoorwill
  5. Flying Insects - The Everglades (2:05, Audio Signal Processors)
    Bee, 2 Files, 2 Mosquitoes, Wasp
  6. Deep Water (2:06, Audio Signal Processors)
    Bubbles, River, Waterfall, Ocean Waves
  7. Hopping Insects (1:37, Audio Signal Processors)
    2 Crickets, Grasshopper, Treehopper
  8. Subterranean Shakes (1:54, Audio Signal Processors)
    Earthquake, Lava Flow, Fire, Stones
  9. Large Birds in Air (2:11, Audio Signal Processors)
    Bald Eagle, Falcon, Geese, Hawk
  10. Great Plains of North America (2:58, Audio Signal Processors)
    Bison, Prairie Dog, Rattlesnake, Wolf

12 Haiku for Speaking Voice and Violin

Following the traditional form, each Haiku contains 3 lines with a 5-7-5 syllable scheme. The ‘musical’ Haiku for the violin follow the same pattern. Each Haiku is composed of three measures. The first measure has 5 tones, the second measure, 7 tones, and the last measure, 5 tones.

The violin Haiku employ the fundamental intervals that appear in the natural overtone series. Most of the Haiku feature a single pitch interval. Overall, intervals range from octaves, fourths and fifths, to thirds, seconds, and tritone. Three Haiku are based on two related intervals: major and minor 3rds, major and minor 2nds, and fifths and fourths. There is a Haiku based on the ‘pentatonic’ scale, an ‘open strings’ Haiku, and one that incorporates a’12-tone’ scale. 

Typically, Haiku employ themes associated with the natural environment. In these Haiku, I have taken the liberty of interpreting nature within a slightly broader context.

John Holland