Composer and bioacoustic researcher David Dunn of Santa Fe, New Mexico, talks about the connections between listening, language, the environment, and art-making. (Go to interview)
PARA/GRAPHS* for ANTIPHONY IX (...a DOT...) for Orchestra, Children and Tape By Kenneth Gaburo, Iowa City, 9/18/1985
DESERTPACE, near where I lived, and in which I participated for many years is neither totally vacuous nor full for me. Although it persists in its seeming timelessness and stillness, it is not alone. It is occupied by loifeforms: seen, heard, felt. DESERTSPACE is anything but silent.
Here, life seems momentary but not miniscule. Delicate flowerings, surrounded by unoccupied sand, appear and disappear in wonderfully complete cycles. Here each lifeform persists in its own way within the persistence of timeless, still DESERTSPACE.
Visitors also enter. I, they, do: the distant sound of a biker's rig; a child with parents on the horizon; couples nested in some shaded formation. In one way or another, all attend to DESERTSPACE while here.
Marked off by extraordinarily diverse motions of coming and going, DESERTSPACE seems always to be changing. It is orderly but not ordered. Its otherwise stillness and timelessness is etched by provocative, seemingly random gestures given to it by those lifeforms which comprise it; now here, now there; poised, fleeting, cyclic, diffused. I am startled. DESERTSPACE is never quite the same.
Because of this, changes appear always to be immediate and conclusive. But this is a deception. For, both DESERTSPACE and its lifeforms,—whether occupants or visitors—, are caught up in a continual state of becoming. This is very strange to me for neither seems to care that it becomes. It is useless to make predictions about how it will be next time, or ten minutes from now (by my time). Becoming is what DESERTSPACE is; so, also, for its occupants.
In this becoming I hear a rather incredible kind of breathing. Lifeforms which participate in DESERTSPACE—unpredictably marking off increments of time in its timelessness, and momentarily masking its stillness—leave it conspicuous by their absence or presence. They persistently come and go. Persistent DESERTSPACE cannot.
If those lifeforms which comprise DESERTSPACE were to abandon it, what would be left (other than timeless, interminably still, undifferentiated space, comprised only of itself)? But this DESERTSPACE would not be breathing; nor could it do so,—alone.
The above text is not the basis for Antiphony IX. The work does not portray the desert (specifically a segment of the Anzo Borrego Desert); nor, is it a metaphor for it. Instead of writing program notes, the composer invites the reader to participate as follows: Please re-read the above PARA/GRAPHS as given with the following exception: for each use of the word DESERTSPACE, substitute the expression ANTIPHONY 1X.