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Joan La Barbara: La Barbara: Shamansong *

Audio Samples

>ShamanSong, film score
>ROTHKO, for pre-taped choirs & bowed pianos
>Calligraphy II / Shadows, for voice & chinese instruments

Track List

>ShamanSong, film score
>ROTHKO, for pre-taped choirs & bowed pianos
>Calligraphy II / Shadows, for voice & chinese instruments

Album Notes

A beautiful CD of three elegant, subtle, and evocative compositions. "ShamanSong" (1991, 1998) is a mysterious 25-minute "concert suite" of excerpts from the soundtrack for a film entitled Anima, which concerns a woman who journeys to the desert to leave her former life behind and enter "the world where magic happens" by performing certain rituals and labors. We hear La Barbara's recorded voice (sighs, whispers, lamentations, ululations, calls, echoing cries, lullabies, and "vocal winds") and percussion sounds (Balinese gamelan, tar and dumbek hand drums, shakuhachi, music box tines, rainstick, and African rattles) on location high in the rocky cliffs of Diablo Canyon, NM. Several sounds are also modified by computer. "ROTHKO" (1986) is an approximately 24-minute work designed for the Rothko Chapel. La Barbara wished to emulate painter Mark Rothko's layering techniques in sound. The mood is somber, meditative, and intense, as sounds from several tapes of multiphonic and microtonal voice choirs and bowed pianos move through the space, with a pervasive, constantly moving drone filling and reconfiguring itself as a living presence. The listener's attention is drawn both to this resonance but also to the small, fine sounds that ring throughout. The score of "Calligraphy II/Shadows" (1995) for voice and Chinese wind, string, and percussion instruments attempts "to reflect the gestural qualities and physicality of calligraphy," with the "shadows" of the title referring "to the musical score as a shadow or reflection of the movements and gestures of both calligraphy and dance." La Barbara succeeds beautifully with an engaging piece built from gentle evocative gestures and mysterious vocalisms that seem to tell a private story. ~ "Blue" Gene Tyranny



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