All of the music on this recording was created using found objects. The tracks have been organized such that each piece relates, in succession, to the elements of water, metal, and stone.
1) Pockets (3.00)
Pockets features my variation on an African instrument known as the water drum. An assortment of wooden salad bowls, gleaned from garage sales and thrift stores over many years, float upside-down in water such that an air pocket forms between each bowl and the water. This air pocket allows the bowls to resonate when they are struck. In the courcse of the performance, the floating bowls jostle one another with the ebb and flow of the music causing bits of trapped air to be released in occasional flautulent-sounding belches. As the amount of air trapped between the bowl and water decreases, the pitch of each bowl goes up. This version of the piece was recorded in Lewis Melville's bathtub.
4) Hiding Places (3:19)
This piece features a seashell known as a "Giant Tun shell" (Tonna galea L. to conchologists) that has been partially filled with water. Tipping the shell back and forth causes the water inside to emit delicate gurgling sounds. After some time has passed, I introduce percussive sounds by tapping the outer surface of the shell with my fingers. As the water level inside the shell continues to fluctuate, the pitch of the seashell changes.
7) Different Strokes (4:12)
"Different Strokes" is performed on a series of well-worn canoe paddles. By striking the paddles at different points along their shafts, I am able to elicit a range of timbres similar in effect to that of a guitarist's "flange" pedal. When i perform this piece, I am often asked what kind of effects processor I am using. I generally respond: "What you talkin' about, Willis?"
2) Composition for Steel Bowl and Cylender (5:02)
This piece uses a stainless steel mixing bowl and a twelve-inch piece of steel electrical conduit. Holding the bowl in my left hand, I begin slowly moving the cylender in a counter-clockwise motions, maintaining steady contact between the cylinder and the inner surface of the bowl. Eventually the shaft of the cylinder comes into contact with the bowl's rim. Vatying the angle of incidence between the bowl and the cylinder results in a surprising range of timbral variation, not unlike the sound of a "wah" pedal.
5) Sliding Music (2:05)
"Sliding Music" features a fifty-inch length of galvanized steel electrical conduit. At the outset, the conduit is held in a vertical position at its midpoint. As I strike the conduit with a mallet, gravity causes it to slide slowly through my fingers. My fingers thus come into contact with different nodal points thereby eliciting a variety of overtones from the resonating cylinder.
8) Hand to Blade (6:13)
"Hand to Blade" features a 22-inch circular saw blade that was given to me by my friend and mentor, baritone saxophonist David Mott. Using my fingertips, I build up a series of sound waves by gradually invreasing the intensity of each finger stroke. Mid-way through the piece, I stop striking the blade and instead use my hands to interfere with the sound waves without actually touching the blade. When I perform this piece, I am often asked if it hurts. It does. Quite a lot actually. Physical gesture is a determinant of the form in this piece; actions are repeated until they become too painful to continue. One of the ways in which music functions in my life is as an opportunity to discover limitations within muself. Limitations can be technical in nature; they can be conceptual. In this piece, I'm interested in discovering physical limitations in hopes of moving beyond them.
2) (71.5 x 15 x 2) +2 (4:14)
"71.5" features a piece of marble measuring 71.5 cm by 15 cm by 2 cm. I found it in a dumpster. Sitting cross-legged on the floor with the stone supported by my knkees at its nodal points (roughly a quarter of its length from either end). I strike the stone with felt mallets that elicit a variety of sonorities when they come in contact with different parts of the marble. Midway through the piece, two small rounded stones are added to the marble creating a buzzing sound.
6) Shell Game (6:26)
"Shell Game" uses two circular marble tables, two stone cups (mortars from stone mortar and pestle sets), and two spherical iron/sandstone concretions known as "moqui stones." The stone cups are placed on the marble tables in an inverted position with the spherical stones concealed within them. Staying in contact with the table tops, the cups are moved in a circular fashion causing the stones to roll across the surcface of the table. Lifting the edge of the cups creates timbral variation. Mid-way through the piece, the stone cups are removed from the tables and are rubed together. Varying the way in which the mouths of the two cups come in contact with one another results in sonic variation.
9) Junctures (3:49)
"Junctures" features fifteen cylindrical stone drill core samples that were given to me by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Thirteen drill cores are placed on a table in three paralell rows. Two additional stones are used to roll, scrape, and strike the stones. As with several other pieces on this recording, many listeners assume that this work involves some sort of electronic-processing. Nope. Just rocks. All of the sounds on this recording are the result of acoustic experimentaion with seemingly ordinry objects. One of my hopes is that through this work, others might come to see (and hear) as I do, that these objects are, in fact, far from ordinary. They remind us that a sense of wonder is always within our reach, waiting to be discovered in the "ordinary" things around us. This is the way in which these pieces function in my own life. It is my sincere hope that they might do likewise for others.