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Cheryl E. Leonard | Watershed

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Avant Garde: Experimental Avant Garde: Sound Art Moods: Type: Experimental
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by Cheryl E. Leonard

Unique sounds and textures from field recordings and amplified natural materials, glass, and metal are intertwined in three compositions about water in California.
Genre: Avant Garde: Experimental
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Confluences
13:41 $2.99
2. Frozen Over
21:28 $2.99
3. Watershed
16:20 $2.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Composer Cheryl E. Leonard explores water in California with three intricate compositions. Intertwining field recordings with sounds performed on natural materials, glass, and metal, Watershed features the unique voices, rhythms, and sonic textures of water and ice, while reflecting on tough issues surrounding water in California, such as drought, flooding, and sea level rise. Leonard’s field recordings highlight sounds from oceans, estuaries, lakes, streams, rivers, and caves, including Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Windansea Beach, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and Lower Cathedral Lake and Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park. The instruments and natural materials played on the album are glass, driftwood, stones, shells, crab claws, bird bones, feathers, kelp, Japanese bowl gongs, Nepalese bells, water, and sand.

1. Confluences (2018) - glass, driftwood, stones, mussel shells, crab claws, bird bones, feathers, and kelp; field recordings of the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Windansea Beach, and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

When high tides, winter storms, and long-term El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles converge they generate flooding and destructive seas along the coast of California. The number and intensity of these extreme high sea level events are predicted to increase as the 21st century advances and their harmful effects will be exacerbated by continued sea level rise. In Confluences, I wanted to give voice to the factors that produce extreme high sea level events, to consider vanishing coastal sites and sounds, and to digest the dire prognoses contained in scientific discussions on the subject. The impacts of such events on San Diego are also referenced, including erosion of seaside cliffs, inundation of coastal wetlands, flooding of low-lying neighborhoods, and loss of sandy beaches. Confluences was originally created as an interactive sound/sculpture installation commissioned by the La Jolla Historical Society.

2. Frozen Over (2015) - Japanese bowl gongs, Nepalese bells, rocks, and shells; field recordings of Lower Cathedral Lake and Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park

During December 2011 and much of January 2012, exceptionally warm and dry weather made it possible to access areas of Yosemite’s high country that are normally reachable only via skis in winter. Highway 120 reopened through Tuolumne Meadows, and a friend informed me that the lakes up there were frozen, but bare of snow. Moreover, people were skating on the lakes, and the ice was making weird sounds. Intrigued, I made two trips to Tuolumne to gather the field recordings that became the foundation of Frozen Over. The winter of 2011-2012 was the beginning of a historic multi-year drought in California. I reflected on various facets of the drought as I composed this piece, especially shrinking winter snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada. The fact that such “anomalies” are becoming more and more frequent bodes ill for the future of California’s water supply.

3. Watershed (2015) - water, kelp, shells, and sand; field recordings of caves, rivers, and oceans

Inspired by hydrology and California landscapes, Watershed considers the journeys of water from precipitation into streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, and the sea. Present or absent, sustaining or devastating, water fundamentally shapes environments, ecosystems, and human endeavors. In recent years, California has rarely had the “right” amount of water. The state’s new norms are extremes: drought or flooding, wildfires or mudslides, fallow orchards or flooded fields, dry reservoirs or coastal inundations. And yet, beyond these catastrophes and difficulties, the ever-varied intonations of water remain elemental and enthralling.



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