Monday, August 23, 2004

The music of nature

I have a young friend here who is an accomplished composer, trained at Queen's University, Belfast. I have just been listening to a composition she was working on last summer, but which premiered after I left Ireland.

The piece was commissioned to celebrated the Great Blasket Island off the Dingle Peninsula, a place that gave rise to an astonishing body of literature in the Irish language, and even more works in English about the little community of people who lived there and accomplished so much.

Last summer Rachel was out and about collecting sounds with a tape recorder -- sea, wind, rain, oars in oarlocks, flexing timber -- which she took back to her computer and "sculpted" (her word) into music to be sung and played on conventional instruments.

I love her sense that even a turning door handle can be a song of sorts, and I admire her mastery of the technology that lets her share with an audience the songs she hears all about her.