The Sounds of Moving Water
the aural side of ecospirituality
The sounds of the more than human world are revelations of the creativity of the universe. Our capacity to
listen to them with sensitive and loving ears is one way of sharing in the Deep Listening, otherwise named God.
Annea Lockwood and the Sounds of Moving Water
"An aural journey from the source of the river, in the high peak area of the Adirondacks, downstream to the Lower Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; Lockwood traces the course of the Hudson through on-site recordings of its flow at 15 separate locations. Annea Lockwood has recorded rivers in many countries to explore the special state of mind and body which the sounds of moving water create when one listens intently to the complex mesh of rhythms and pitches. The listener will find that each stretch of the Hudson has its own sonic texture, formed by the terrain, varying according to the weather, the season and downstream, the human environment whose sounds are intimately woven into the river's sounds. 71 minutes 33 seconds."
Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Locating Ourselves in the Human Continuum
Interviewer: I am still wondering why young Americans are drawn to the music of their grandparents. You would hardly find any young people in Germany, having fun, singing old regional folk songs (if, then they are probably making fun of it). It is considered weird and backwards and their grandparents probably beat them to play in this Bavarian brass band or the vocal ensemble (this is my own very biased point of view!). I guess part of it has to do with identity. How is that for you? How do you identify with your country or the place you are coming from?
Sarah Louise: This is a fascinating, challenging question! I think one reason why young Americans connect so strongly with older music is because America is so young. I imagine it’s part of an effort to locate ourselves in the human continuum – to connect with a past that was often intentionally obscured as our forebears tried to assimilate. “Who are we?” Although there are definitely some dark connotations surrounding American folk music (the evil injustices that spawned the blues, the anti-nature sentiment of many Baptist hymns, the inexcusable heritage of minstrel shows), there were many efforts to give folk music a positive voice. Look at Woody Guthrie during FDR’s administration. That is still fairly recent in our cultural memory. American music is also unusually rich. We have echoes of Hungarian cymballum, German lap dulcimer, the melodies of ancient Celts, the rhythms and word-play of many different African nations, etc., etc., etc. That’s a lot to draw from.
-- from the interview
Locating Ourselves in the Divine Continuum
Consider the Lilies of the Field
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
-- Matthew 6: 25-29, NRSV
Consider the Azaleas
For Further Reflection
Sarah Louise, 'Floating Rhododendron'
"There is music in nature. Irv Teibel recorded, manipulated and sold nature as functional art; John Cage meditated on it ("My composing is actually unnecessary. Music never stops. It is we who turn away." Annea Lockwood sonically maps rivers around the world. If field recordings are narratives humans tell about the environment, then translating that energy through instruments is our attempt at communion with it. This is where the music of guitarist Sarah Louise lives and breathes: in the movement and feeling of the natural world around her rural home in Asheville, N.C.
The field of contemporary guitar music has become incredibly rich over the last five years, as documented by the increasingly crucial VDSQ Solo Acoustic series. Although Sarah Louise has only one release to her name so far, Vol. 12 quickly places her alongside impressive contributors like Sir Richard Bishop, Glenn Jones, Bill Orcutt and Tashi Dorji. But Louise's music is spiritually and tangibly set apart from her peers', her 12-string compositions culled from birdsong and rivers as well as the sacred drone of Appalachian folk music.
"Floating Rhododendron" begins as a languid waltz, but is quickly swept up in a flurry of graceful finger-picking. Two minutes in, Louise mimics flower petals gliding on water by plucking intervals with her thumb and middle finger, a feat she achieves with a modal tuning of her own making. When the figure reappears after a whirl of strings, it's heavier, deeper than before. That tonal shift is partly what makes Sarah Louise's approach to the guitar so riveting, as her attention to rhythm and weight is so in tune with the nature that inspires her."
-- Lars Gotrich, NPR, April 15. 2016