Many composers of Western music have used the influences of non-Western cultures to inspire them in their music. Many turn to Asian or Indian cultures for instruments, rhythms, harmonies and melodies. I have heard few American composers look inward for inspiration, rather than look outward. These pieces look inward at America, to a source of rich culture, the Native Americans. Native American poetry, art and music are all present in these works. As most Native Americans did not have a written language, pictures spoke for them. These pictographs are the titles of each work.
The first pictograph is named after Kokopelli, the Hopi god of Fertility. I found this to be a fitting pictograph, because the piece is based on a Pawnee Love Song. The original song used voice pulses rather than words, and I have held to that. It is being performed tonight by an ensemble consisting of Oboe, Alto Saxophone, French Horn and Bass Clarinet.The first thing you will hear is the original melody, played in unison by all four instruments. The second section still has the melody, but the other three parts were written by a program I wrote in the C programming language. I fed it the numbers of all the notes and rests, and it chose the order of the notes, as well as the octave. The third and fourth parts were composed entirely by the program.
- Oboe: Christine Mertens
- Alto Saxophone: Jermaine Stegal
- French Horn: Amy Crabtree
- Bass Clarinet: Bridget Robbins
The second pictograph has its roots in Native American poetry as read by Wang Jing and Muey Phimanakhan. Also used in this piece is part of an Arapaho song called Ghost Dance Song. The read poetry was then synthesized using a granular synthesis program called MacPod. The MacPod materials, and some of the original material were processed using SMS and ProTools. The files will be played through the Silicon Graphics machine using the program jMax, which chooses a random order and a random delay between each sound file.
The Voice That Beautifies the Land and the Song of the Rain Chant are both Navaho poems, and the Planting Song is Osage.
The Voice that Beautifies the Land The voice that beautifies the land! The voice above, The voice of the thunder Among the dark clouds Again and again it sounds, The voice that beautifies the land.The voice that beautifies the land! The voice below, The voice of the grasshopper, Among the flowers and grasses Again and again it sounds, The voice that beautifies the land.Ka-Ni-Ga SongThe poor little bee That lives in a tree, The poor little bee That live in a tree Has only one arrow In his quiver Song of the Rain Chant Far as man can see, Comes the rain, Comes the rain with me. From the Rain-Mount, Rain-Mount Far away, Comes the rain, Comes the rain with me.'Mid the lightnings, 'Mid the lightnings zigzag "mid the lightning flashing, Comes the rain, Comes the rain with me.Through the pollen, Through the pollen blest, All in pollen hidden Comes the rain, Comes the rain with me. Far as man can see, Comes the rain, Comes the rain with me. Planting Song I have made a footprint, a sacred one. I have made a footprint; through it the blades push upward. I have made a footprint; over it the blades float in the wind. I have made a footprint; over it I pluck the ears. I have made a footprint; over it I bend the stalk to pluck the ears. I have made a footprint; over it the blossoms lie gray I have made a footprint; smoke arises from my house. I have made a footprint; there is cheer in my house I have made a footprint; I live in the light of day.