Bill McNeill Ross | All-Acoustic Contemplative Sound Spaces

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Album home page, All-acoustic "Contemplative Sound Spaces" "The Warblehead Union" - Bill McN. Ross, Michael Kehn "Global Village Music" - Sympatico Rhythm Unit

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United States - New York

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New Age: Space New Age: Ambient Moods: Type: Sonic
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All-Acoustic Contemplative Sound Spaces

by Bill McNeill Ross

Sounds for evening, to establish a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere – moods of bells, gongs, bowls, percussion, different strings, serene voices of Nature...
Genre: New Age: Space
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Passages
4:43 $0.99
2. Zing Roar (A Conversation Between Monochord Harps)
5:05 $0.99
3. ''i Know That Girl''– Lost in the Workshop of Woodstock Chimes (Live)
5:03 $0.99
4. Mystery Train / Who's There?
2:55 $0.99
5. Oceanic Trio (feat. Peter Blum & David Budd)
6:08 $0.99
6. Afloat in Tambouras, Bells (feat. Peter Blum)
8:44 $0.99
7. Tree Frogs Trilling in Rain, Woodstock, April (Nature Recording)
3:40 $0.99
8. Bell Gong Flow (Live) [feat. David Budd & Lea Garnier]
4:01 $0.99
9. Voyager
7:24 $0.99
10. Wave Forms (Ocean Beach, Monochord, Cicadas… Monochord, Ocean)
6:01 $0.99
11. Coda: It's Late (Bells, Percussion, Peepers…)
5:10 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Soundtracks meant to help the listener slow down and relax a little, so the wave that rises in the heart can more easily be found. For putting on in the background later in the evening, to set the tone for time and space to stretch out.

Several live performances, but mostly layered recordings, of gongs, bells and singing bowls, singing insects, birds, and Water — rain, the ocean, a waterfall, a brook — and a few with very different solo stringed instruments.

There are no synthesizers or electric instruments on this album, no words sung or spoken — it's a percussionist's approach to meditative ambient space music. (But we did not hold back on the tasteful use of "studio magic,' of course, wherever that sounded right.)

Evocative, intriguing, hypnotic...
Mellow, exotic, harmonic...
An elves' workshop at play; extraterrestrial tambouras; bells reverberating everywhere; the thousand-stringed roar of the mighty Monochord.

As the river moves on here, the notes get longer and deeper, slower and wider…
Hopefully this is all about sitting back and relaxing into in a deep and soothing sound, breathing a little deeper, feeling a little closer to the peace inside us.
Featuring Peter Blum, David Budd, and Lea Garnier

Much of this album was played by Bill borrowing and buying from the impressive singing bowl collection of Peter Blum, who keeps around 30 on hand. Peter is heard on tracks 5, 6 and 11.
Our great thanks and appreciations to him, and to David Budd (tracks 5, 8 and 11,) and Lea Garnier (8) for contributing their wonderfully sensitive playing, too.
These Are Soundtracks of Restful Dreams

You won't find the usual type of "music" on this album, with lots of ideas and lines and chords. Instead, these are flowing, abstract atmospheres of organized sound.
You could equally say that of course it's music, only, played, very, slo-o-ow-ly...
There may be only as many individually sounded notes in this whole collection of pieces as in one or maybe two pop songs. (The notes-per-minute make a radical contrast.)

This is all about how the strongest, most riveting note in any piece of music is a rest, a note of Silence.
Then next to that would be Reverberation, the after-effect when a note is struck, how long it lasts hanging in the air...

Putting this together came from a longtime approach of being observant for the natural possibilities, as much as possible just present, listening and responding. Letting the sound suggest where it wants to go, and your deeper brain do all the heavy lifting.
The goal, the hope, is for when the musicians can become the instrument, the highest and deepest experience you can have of playing.
Some Notes On The Tracks

We've always been utterly fascinated by being immersed in a deep, rich, flowing tone that just hangs there and hypnotizes. As percussionists, we prize the raw, living sound of instruments made directly from the earth, transformed and refined by human hands. (All praise to the instrument makers!)

There's a lot of favorite electronic music that we listen to frequently, even big fans of some. But there's no way a synthesized sound can compare to the depth and all the dimensions of a natural object resonating. That's what we've got here.
Key influences

Where did we ever get the strange ideas about soundmaking that were pursued on this album? Here are a few of the original places.

Paul Horn Inside the Taj Mahal —

Paul Horn's 1967 album recorded in the dome of India's Taj Mahal in was an absolute revolution in hearing, and in feeling, too. It's got to be one of the originating albums of the ambient space in music.
Horn snuck into Taj Mahal with his flute and a Nagra tape recorder to play with the space, with its distinctive decay time of almost a minute. He played a long full note, and it just hung there forever as he slowly added notes and simple themes, creating a beautiful weave of suspended tones harmonizing with each other, on their way to disappearing into eternity. (At least that's what it seemed like.)

The "Environments" series —

LPs with sidelong tracks of pure sounds of nature and other expanded perspectives in sound.
"Environments 1, released a year before Songs of the Humpback Whale and almost a decade before Brian Eno’s ambient manifesto Ambient 1: Music for Airports, introduced the psychoacoustic concept of sound masking as well as the medicinal uses of natural sound into popular cultural."
- the Irv Teibel Archive, the official site about the originator and man behind the entire series.

Brian Eno's Music For Airports —

Later, in the earliest 80's, Brian Eno began making what he termed "ambient" music, defined as this subtly shifting sound that was not made for direct listening, but instead was an environment, an atmosphere designed in this case to lighten the mood of the rushing travellers.

It was slow-moving piano by Harold Budd and wordless vocal samples with the full studio treatment, turning the sound into an Impressionist painting. But the main feature of the music was how the tones sounds were left hanging there to resonate for the longest time, from start to finish.

So Many More

There are many more tributaries, of course: Tony Scott's "Music for Zen Meditation and Other Joys," the sound of the tamboura from classical Indian music, Alvin Lucier's "Music On A Long Thin Wire"...

But we're percussionists, and have been collecting especially "slow-burning" instruments, the kind that make long, sustained tones. You'll hear all kinds of strange sounds pop up in the background, but it's the bells and gongs of all sorts that carry much of the load, and a favorite is using singing bowls as gongs, striking their outer walls with mallets for the deep BOOOM-M-M-M...

They just keep ringing, and ringing... And of course they do some singing, too.
Different styles of the tracks

This collection is pretty much designed very simply to flow smoothly along, and maybe the less said, the better.

But there several tracks, particularly “'I Know That Girl' (Lost in the workshop of Woodstock Chimes)," that are based on the random or chance element in nature and related ideas from the classical Avant-Garde.

You might think of them as kinda "New Age" John Cage. ; )
(After all this time, we still have to put that in quotes, and can't see it without a small "ew." But, it's a label people use.
It's Cage who made us use it, though, his name that needed rhyming.)

He was the writer-theorist and composer who brought very different elements into Western music, of Zen and chance and random changes of various kinds being planned for a performance. While his own music was kind of eh, his writing was stunning, coming at a time when ideas of mindfulness, of understanding how much our own music is rooted in Nature and so on, seemed to this culture to be very, very new.

Let's not forget Edgard Varèse, either, who began making abstract percussion music in the 1930's in France. It wasn't any kind of mellow or tonal, but he brought a whole new perspective to listening.

Our thanks to Garry Kvistad of Woodstock Chimes, not only for his permission to record there during one of their annual sales, but for his saying, "But don't just record – perform!" So “I Know That Girl” is Bill playing their giant, awesome Windsinger chimes in the foreground and an enormous gong behind, accompanied by the random sounds of customers trying out all the chimes, bells, rattles, flutes and whistles in the chime sale.
Starring Nature

The other element to these sounds are from recordings made mostly around Woodstock: the frogs in the rain, peepers, crickets, katydids, the stream and waterfall. (There must have been a few add-in's, since the ocean turns up — that was from the southeast coast of Florida.)

¸¸.·´¯`·.., >¯`·.¸.·´¯`·..¸>¯`·.¸¸>¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸

We hope you enjoy this, that it helps you find a little space of quietness in your heart.

Music and Descriptions © 2019 William McNeill Ross



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