Ralph M. Jones
May 1, 2020
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Hamid Drake: drumset, udu drums, gourd drum, percussion
Ralph M. Jones: soprano and tenor saxophones, hulusli, ney, bamboo flutes, sipsi, c and alto flutes, bass clarinet, spoken word
Adam Rudolph: handrumset (kongos, djembe, tarija), electronic keyboards and samples, cajon, udu drums, thumb pianos, marimbula, sintir, mouth bow, selya overtone flute, gongs, dusun'goni, percussion
Music spontaneously composed by Ralph M. Jones, Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake
Organic arrangements, orchestrations and electronic processing by Adam Rudolph
In the fall of 2018 our three person Research and Development team discovered an imaginary archipelago. On each of the eleven islands they found a bio-sonic range of aural flora and fauna rich in color, texture, movement and meaning. While each island had its own unique sonic language, they were at the same somehow mysteriously connected to one another.
The music documented on this recording is a sounding of the lived philosophy of these islands. Some is oriented more towards the dance, others preferring calligraphic sounds gestures. Some pieces celebrate collective ritual and then there are those which turn inward toward contemplations.
High mountains and dense forests, warm deserts and cool caves, ancient villages and futuristic cities; although the environments are diverse, all these islands have a soil rich in inspirational nutrients. When roots run deep, certain trees will even reach beyond the sky, towards the unknown.
Our R & D team found plants, rock, wood and other organic materials suitable for striking, plucking and blowing upon. These invented sound makers were approached as merely tools through which creative intention passes. The resulting sound combinations made for pleasing music making and prototypical dialogic expressions. Some of the instruments heard in this recording may sound familiar, but this is only coincidental.
(This re-opens the perennial question: are musical elements and concepts spread as a kind of synergy of human migrations and creative curiosity? Or do people in far flung places independently come up with ideas that may be similar? Do these similarities come from how we are wired as humans, just as universal linguistic propensities are thought to be? Or is the connection even deeper than that: does it originate in our collective unconscious?)
Whatever the mix of elements and orchestrations, the music from the islands of our imaginary archipelago share a central notion: that the human sounding of our "aboriginalness" is at the core of the creative endeavor of music making itself. Underneath linguistic differences, lays the archetypal inner voice. And, as our team dug deeper, they uncovered a surprising truth: that the more prototypical the music, that is, the more profoundly the inner voice is given its unique expression, the more universally resonant that music could be. Let us listen.e.
Energy of Vibratory Motion
Bands of tin are wrapped around the tongue keys of a thumb piano, a metal rattle is inserted info the end of a string instrument, a gut cord is strung across the skin of a drum: from pre-history to today musican-healers have used these and other methods to complexify the sound of their instruments in order to create a parallel "shadow line" of sound. These rhythm overtones are sometimes called "the voice of the ancestors" and are linked to the transcendent quality of the music.
With similar intent, contemporary technologies were employed in this recording using a creative process of compositional expansion. Electronic processing was applied to the performances so as to generate new rhythms. These added layers of rhythm were designed to become additional voices which move in, out and through the acoustically played Signal Rhythms and Ostinatos of Circularity.
Another intention was to create a kind of sonic masking. In many cultures performers put on masks to transform her or himself into a transcendent/mythic other. Here, sonic masking moves us beyond the familiar and ordinary. We no longer need to hear, for example, a soprano sax as simply itself; the transformed sound expands us into the mysterious and extra-ordinary. This is because, transformed, the linguistic aspect of each instrumental voice is brought more into focus. We can listen with an ear oriented less towards any preconception of virtuosity and more towards the artists' intention of storytelling, song and dialogue.
Processing the sounds of the instruments invites them to resonate into space and creates a shadow world of harmonic colors. As the music unfolds, each instrumental voice sings into this space adding to the dance of orchestration and form.
Recorded by Greg DiCrosta on Sept 21, 2018 at Firehouse 12 New Haven CT
Mixed & mastered by James Dellatacoma at Orange Music Sound Studio New Jersey
Cover Art by Nancy Jackson
Design by Sylvain Leroux
Liner Notes by Adam Rudolph
Produced by Adam Rudolph
Thanks to Mtume, Bill Laswell, Mas Yamagata, Norma Argenti
Dedicated to our dear families: Those here, those gone, and those still to come...
About the Karuna Ensemble
Karuna, which means compassion in Tibetan Buddhism, is the name of a new trio whose members collaborative history goes backs almost 50 years.
With Karuna, Drake, Jones and Rudolph bring their unique and evolved rhythm and sonic languages to the fore, reaching to inspire any audience though spirited dialogue.
The name Karuna reflects their ongoing research into the connection of the inner life to musical expression and speaks to the idea of creative action as a gesture of compassion. What makes Karuna's music magic is the special history and decades of shared experiences among the musicians.
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