I still remember the first time I wrote a work for full orchestra. I was thrilled an honored to begin a little piece titled, "Look to the Skies" for the University of Akron Symphony Orchestra back in the winter of 2016. Fast forward to the winter of 2020 and I'm finally out with a brand new work that highlights a few cities with amazing and awe inspiring cityscapes. This work was my personal challenge and a homage to 3 specific cities which have had a profound impact on my life. I will post an official link to a perusal score/audio file soon but for now, If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to drop me a message! Hope you enjoy, SKYLINES :)
During these trying and isolating times, our Sound Art class at Western Michigan University made sound walks as a practice to help us better engage with our immediate sonic environments.
As described by composer and sound ecologist Hildegard Westerkamp, "a sound walk is a form of active participation in the soundscape. Though the variations are many, the essential purpose of a soundwalk is to encourage the participant to listen discriminately and moreover, to make a critical judgement about the sounds heard and their contribution to the balance or imbalance of the sonic environment."
We sincerely hope you enjoy our sound walk, From Urban to the Lake. Please feel free to engage with it as you wish.
Sound editing by Jane Kozhevnikova (janekmusic.com)
Recordings by Cody Ray, John Sutton, Brandon Bruce, Linssey Ma, Drew Tomasik, Jane Kozhevnikova
Photo and video compilation by Jane Kozhevnikova
Words derived from “The Harbor” by Carl Sandburg and the script of John Koenig's "Lachesism"
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank our professor Dr. Lisa Coons for her tenacious and kindred spirit throughout this inaugural semester of Sound Art (6740).
Over the past few days (and weeks), we have all faced moments of great stress. From the abandonment of set routines to the loss of multiple strains of income, the impacts of these self isolating measures are very palpable. During fearful and erratic moments (like this), I enjoy turning to this quote.
"Fear is a universal experience... It's not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold onto. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape."
- Pema Chödrön
Throughout this period, self reflection has further aided me in discovery. Discovery of who I am, who I am becoming, and who I want to be. As challenging as this time may be, I still believe it's important for us to always search for lessons(no matter how big or small). Lessons that challenge what we value, that guide us to further our capacity for success and push us towards becoming better people in a better society.
Although it’s much easier to allow ourselves to live in a negative state, it is my hope that we can aim to reframe our situations. Reframing and reflecting so that maybe we can find a positive and more empowering meaning for this moment. In the meantime, keep washing those hands, keep reaching out virtually and I’m looking forward to the day in which we can meet again, face to face.
No I did not just add an extra (i) into the word "silence".
SILIENCE is a new word created by writer John Koenig and is featured in his creative work, Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
Envisioned to describe the indescribable moments and sensations we are all confronted with on a daily basis, John has created new terminology to help us not only better understand the world in which we live in, but to aid in enlightening our own personal experiential existence. This new noun, opens a unique perspective in the way in which we may look, listen, and interact with everyday art.
The complete definition is as follows:
siliencen. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.
In a fast moving world filled with instant gratification and notifications galore, it becomes difficult to stop and appreciate the subtle wonders that life has to offer. This word encapsulates the beauty and potential inside each aspiring artist. It also seems to be a derivative of "silence" and "brilliance". Many wishful and aspiring artists could describe their current art's impact on the world as a silenced expression. However, this is not the case. All forms and artistic creation serve as integral puzzle pieces towards the creation of communities. A church would not be the same without its hymns and holy texts, as a local friend group would not be the same without its tastes in fashion, food, and movies. Expression of oneself lends to the creation of these communities and the arts allow the cogs of human interaction to move. This idea of "SILIENCE" goes beyond the appreciation for the brilliance of the arts, but to aid in the betterment of our modern society.
This world is made up of millions upon billions of visual artists, musicians, dancers, writers, chefs, brewers, architects, and others. It can be somewhat intimidating to approach one asking, "how are you trying to engage with your world?" or "why should I care about what you are creating?" However this shouldn't be assigned roles in who questions and who answers. In my opinion, this should be an active idea we are constantly asking ourselves from the moment we engage with a piece of art. It may be easy to live complacently and to admit indifference, however this counteracts the natural need and desire to live with a full and vibrant worldview. These everyday artists are "fighting the good fight", trying to show and invite everyone to the notion that it's okay to care about the world.
Although, how does one acquire a sensation of silience? How can we teach ourselves to keep our interpretive eyes and ears open and possibly catch that moment of connection? An initial suggestion would be to take initiative to venture out of your comfort zone (i.e. your home). Our homes are safe havens which allow us to be content with the familiar. They provide security from strangers, walled off from what's natural and scary. However, the walls will not challenge and expand your thoughts, ideals, values, and overall view of the world. When we leave the home and connect with the outside, there is a better chance that we will randomly stumble into new art and culture.
I recall hearing a statement once that no society can be built off of art. I am worried that this is becoming a common belief. I think the sentiment was in reference to the idea that economies are not built on an arts based foundation. There may be validity with this notion, however the arts are very crucial for the sustainability of creative thought and critical thinking (two very important attributes in today's working climates). Anyone can work hard, but its much more efficient and profitable to work smart. It may be difficult to see the connection between a random person sitting on the ground, strumming away on their guitar and the creative powers that ensue and bubble up to surface of your conscience, however this is the case. Maybe it will be that one song lyric which gives you an idea for a new corporation initiative or maybe that one piece of visual art which sparks a new idea in approaching a problem. The only way to find out is to feel the Silience and search your meaning through the rising and daring art surrounding you.
INTERESTING READ - Pearls Before Breakfast
Kalamazoo is a city with a certain charm. Many sights to see, new buildings, great coffee shops, and some of the best craft breweries in the nation. I am thankful for the opportunity to call this little city (between Chicago and Detroit) home. The Western Michigan University School of Music has so far been very hospitable, and I have had the pleasure to meet a plethora of kindred spirits. There is a wide array of compositional styles at this school and I am thrilled to be immersed in such an experimental environment. Looking forward to testing my boundaries as both a musician and composer. Here's to another semester! Go Broncos!