Sharlene Wallace and Frank Horvat recording demos for Trees.Listen

Co-Composing Trees.Listen

What a wonderful way to spend a day with my friend, harpist, Sharlene Wallace! We recorded some demos for our project, Trees.Listen, a collection of pieces for solo lever harp and fixed electronics.

Sharlene Wallace and Frank Horvat recording demos for Trees.Listen

Our suite is inspired by the enlightening book, To Speak for the Trees, by acclaimed medical biochemist and botanist, Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger. Diana has a unique combination of western scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge from the ancient world. Orphaned in Ireland in her youth, she was educated by elders who instructed her in the Brehon knowledge of plants and nature.

The music that Sharlene and I are composing is based on different letters from the ancient Ogham script, a medieval alphabet that named each letter for a type of tree (this is how important trees were to the ancient Celts). The predominant musical note heard in each piece will be the note named after a particular tree. So in our get-together, we recorded a lot of Cs for “Coll”, the Celtic word for “Hazel”, and then many Bs for “Beith”, the Celtic word for “Birch”. This approach will create an extra spiritual connection between each piece, the tree and its designated letter. The overall tone of each piece is also be inspired by the information and stories shared by Diana about each tree, each having its own unique musical character, just as each tree does.

Last month, we completed step 1 in our creative process as we recorded harp samples at Jean Martin‘s studio.

Sharlene Wallace at the Celtic harp

Collaborators - Frank Horvat - Sharlene Wallace - Jean Martin

I then took those samples and used them as a basis to compose electronic bed-tracks. Sharlene then composed a live harp part on top of those bed-tracks. And that led to the present where we recorded demos of the first 2 of 9 pieces in the suite combining my bed-tracks with Sharlene’s solos…the outcome is magical! Sharlene and I are grateful to the Ontario Arts Council for providing us with the funds needed to make these initial creative steps a reality. We will now use theses demos to garner more funding to complete the suite and record an album.

Sharlene and I hope that Trees.Listen supports Diana’s vision that trees are a fundamental part of our existence and survival on this planet and that they are something to be worshipped and protected. We have been fortunate to receive Diana’s enthusiastic support for our endeavour. She is a passionate individual who envisions a better world, with more trees!

We’re looking forward to partnering with Diana once the album is released and Sharlene presents live performances.

Stay tuned to my social media channels, my blog posts and my e-newsletter for updates on our progress.

Trees.Listen - Sharlene Wallace and Frank Horvat

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