The Firefly Concerto

Well, we did that, and it was fun and well received. The one thing I've learned since working with Bread and Puppet last summer is that you can either be a performer, or a documentarian, but rarely both simultaneously, it just doesn't work so great. This is my excuse for having no pictures, recordings or video to illustrate this spectacular event. Tragically, I'll have to rely on my writing skills to give you the image...

Picture if you will a large tree in the southern mountains, with low hanging branches. Beneath the tree, a wooden picnic table of indeterminate age, well weathered. On the table, an assortment of electronica- mixers, tape decks, ipod, synthesizer... From the tree branches hung candle lit teardrop shaped lanterns handmade from paper and wire, and an assortment of junk...saw blades, iron pipes, stove pipes, a dustpan, a fire extinguisher, lawnmower blades, the lid from a 55 gal steel drum, bits of metal from the scrap pile, and a tennis ball as a pendulum clapper. Speakers were hidden up in the tree branches and out of sight on the perimeter. The whole arrangement was quite eclectic, and lovely in it's manner. The evening was post thunderstorm cloudy, warm, a bit of a breeze, and the fireflies danced merrily. People sprawled on the hillside as if at a Tanglewood performance on the green.

Mark W (dressed in a smashing blue seersucker suit and flipflops, with a coordinating bob marley t-shirt) ran the electronica: a mixer, synthesizer, ipod and the amp. He also managed the source material, which consisted of pre-recorded found sounds and collected loops compiled into loops that ran below the live elements. Yours truly (dressed in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, an altered straw panama and sandals) played the "instruments" hanging from the tree (several of them mic'd with custom made contact mics run through the mixer) with drumsticks, and a ping pong paddle. Mark W played the loops and ran the mixes, while I provided accompaniment as moved by the evening vibe. After a period of time, we let the loops run, sound cascading over the hillside and washing over the gathered crowd. We invited the people to take a turn playing the tree, and happily, several participated. All in all it was quite a beautiful late summer evening. The performance lasted approximately 45 minutes. A fine time was had ball all, and the tree looked lovely in it's candlelight and junk dressing.

After the show, beverages were consumed and all hanging and electronic elements removed, leaving the tree in it's original physical condition though somewhat sonically altered.

I hope this gives you some idea of what it was like. As you undoubtedly have heard many times before about many other things, you had to be there...

I'm not sure what I was (am) trying to accomplish by doing such projects, but they're fun and engaging and while a sure road to starvation and poverty, I enjoy doing them.

1 comment:

shara said...

I think you did a fine job describing it, and starvation and poverty aside (and bear in mind what feeds the soul may make the body better able to bear such things) I think making event-experiences like that is a wonderful job to be working at. If you ever need a wheelbarrow-steel drum or a sort of bamboo flute-xylophone-guiro to add to the gypsy circus orchestra, let me know. I'm working on prototypes.