Karen Power – Human Nature
human nature CD release date: 04/09/2020
Available at: Bandcamp (digital release only): composerkarenpower.bandcamp.com
Composer: Karen Power
Album cover: John Godfrey
Featured Performers: Samuel Stoll, Thomas Buckner, Carla Rees, Johnny Chang, Anne-Marie O' Farrell, Simone Keller, Seth Josel, John Godfrey, Karen Power, Jane Rigler, Silke Lange, Ute Wassermann, Catherine Milliken, Rishin Singh, Loré Lixenberg, Michelle O' Rourke, Anne Bourne, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh
human nature is a CD of 18 new compositions by Irish composer Karen Power, which are tied together through the singular concept of pairing human with nature: 1 musician with 1 un-processed field recording.
Karen invited 18 musicians from 7 countries across the globe to each remotely listen to and explore musically an un-processed field recording. This has resulted in a CD of 18 new performed compositions recorded in isolation and realised during Covid 19 lockdown. For human nature she choose 18 field recording extracts from thousands of recordings, which she recorded throughout the world between 2012 - 2019. This series features sounds from very special places and the creatures within, some of which you will recognise and others whose sounds are inaudible to the naked ear.
The forced lockdown period seemed like the perfect time for Karen to reduce, reuse and renew, and she focused on unearthing the natural musical elements within completely unprocessed or raw field recordings. The idea was to concentrate on that intimate act of communication between our constructed musical world and the larger natural world through the lens of a single musician. Together all 18 compositions offer 18 distinct musical voices as exceptional examples of how any of these works could be performed/interpreted.
The CD features 18 micro-pieces from hand-picked musicians already familiar with Karen’s work. The diversity of musical background and aesthetic is important, so as to bring fresh ears to the sounds presented. As each composition is for open instrumentation, everyone was advised that their choice of instrument was part of their unique interpretation. For example - loved bees was offered to renowned Irish harpist Anne-Marie O’ Farrell who chose to respond using a Chinese Harp.
Each composition on the CD is an invitation to a musician to listen and respond. In addition to the field recording track itself, the performer is given a text score and an aural part. These each partially direct their listening and offer specific guidance as to the timing and shape of their response. This compositional technique is one that Karen has been developing since 2015, as an alternative to the standard Western Art traditional score, simply as a means of communicating more intuitively when dealing with real-world sounds. It is more open than a notated score, so as to allow each performer room to listen and bring in their own context to the work, while the composer still closely guides the main musical decisions within each piece. As the approach differs so too must the preparation/rehearsal. This is all part of the evolution of the pieces and for the composer why she considers works like this to be ‘living’ compositions.