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Erik Ian Walker | Climate

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by Erik Ian Walker

Climate is a collaboration between musicians and scientists, using climate data from 1850 and projected out to 2300, which alters the music as the data changes over a 30-minute arc in a compelling collision of music and data.
Genre: Avant Garde: Sound Collage
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Climate (feat. The Climate Ensemble)
29:04 $0.99
2. Ocean (feat. The Climate Ensemble)
9:22 $0.99
3. Endangered (feat. The Climate Ensemble)
5:20 $0.50
4. 2º (feat. Nicole Lumetta)
1:57 $0.99
5. False Sky Falling (Live) [feat. Thomas Dimuzio]
11:53 $0.99
6. Fire
4:45 $0.50
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Notes on CLIMATE

Climate was commissioned by The ClimateMusic Project as a live performance with synchronized video, containing animated graphs showing changing Co2, temperature and Earth Energy Balance.

The Climate Ensemble worked together, over an 18-month period, to create the title track Climate, collaborating with science advisors Dr. William Collins, Dr. Andy Jones, and The ClimateMusic Project team. The contributions of Dr. Collins and Dr. Jones were invaluable in our interpretation of the data used to create Climate. The Climate Ensemble members were relied upon for their editorial, compositional and improvisational talents. This is a collaborative effort, and a band effort.
Special thanks goes to Stephan Crawford and Velvet Voelz, Executive Producers of The ClimateMusic Project, who worked tirelessly to get this piece made and performed.


Climate (and the track 2º) are composed pieces of music that are modified by climate data, the source of which is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is not direct sonification of data. It is a collision of human will and spirit and the hard data of climate change. I preferred this model, as it made for stronger forces at work, and our goal was to show an audience, through sound (and some animated graphs), just how urgent our situation is. Grasping 500 years of climate change by containing it in the arc of a 30- minute piece of music, combined with visual elements, is extremely effective in a way that static data graphs are not. It helps us gain perspective that we often cannot achieve by simply looking at numbers. This has proven true with our audiences.

This piece makes use of IPCC climate scenarios: it mostly follows RCP 8.5, which represents a future in which the global community does comparatively little to rein in human-caused carbon emissions over this century. It also briefly tracks RCP 2.6 (at 23:00), in which the global community reins in greenhouse gas emissions aggressively and soon. All temperatures are in Celsius. Our ‘Zero temperature’ (at 1800) is before the earth began to warm as a result of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Our scale is a rise from 0 degrees to 9 degrees Celsius. That’s about 16 degrees Fahrenheit. For more information on the IPCC and the models that it uses, please visit www.ipcc.ch

The Timeline is 25 years for every minute of music. Keep that in mind.

The data used in this piece, and the music parameters they control, are as follows:
1. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (tempo)
2. Surface air temperature (pitch and harmony)
3. Earth Energy Balance (volume, modulation, distortion)
4. Ocean PH (musical form, integrity of form).

If you consult the graph on the other side of the foldout (should you purchase the CD), you will see the graph begins at the year 1800 (where the data are applied to the music), and the time in the music is at 9:00 minutes. Again, every 25 years is one minute of music. To follow the graph, keep an eye on the time in the music.
The first 9 minutes of the piece are to give us a wider sense of time, of when things are not changing rapidly. We begin in deep space (with space dust hitting the Kepler space ship as the very first sound) and ‘fly’ by Uranus, Jupiter and Mars. After deep space, we land on Earth, and experience an environment that is not affected by our rapid Co2 rise. At 1800, the violin enters, as the Industrial Revolution begins.
We have chosen to show only temperature rise in this graph, as Co2’s curve is nearly the same, just a little ahead, of temperature. Ocean PH is quite different, dropping precipitously. The full video (go there!) shows Co2, Temperature, and Energy Balance (Solar Radiation) in animated graphs.
After about 1900 (13:00), as the Co2 rises, the music goes faster. As the temperature rises, the harmony becomes more dissonant, pitches detune, melody is less orderly. As the Earth’s energy balance is thrown out of equilibrium, the volume rises, there is more distortion, and modulation of the instruments takes place. As the Ocean PH drops, the music loses its structural integrity. It deconstructs and becomes molecules that are not working together. Chaos and turbulence ensue, and the music is unstable.
NOTE: There is an important point in the music, where we reach a temp. increase of 7º (23:00), and the score steps back and reminds the listener what a 2º warmer world ‘sounded’ like (RCP2.6), a point that scientists have estimated as the level where we, humans, need to stop warming the planet. Track four, 2º, is also an example. In Climate you will hear this as a big break in the music, and a sort of eerie calm descends. This lasts for about 1 minute, and then we resume the climb up to 9º. The final climb from 8-9º engages in a ‘cheat’ where we have dropped the volume, and build up again. All other data/music parameter elements hold to their numbers.
Climate was, at times, a challenge, from an emotional standpoint, and just adhering to the math/data. Finding a way to keep the music compelling, while it falls apart, took a few rewrites. An unusual experience for a composer is the inflexible nature of the changing data, where one must give over their ‘ego’ (something you like in the music) to where the data takes you, very much like a rising tide that you have no control over.
In this album, the science is applied to Climate and 2º. Endangered, False Sky Falling and Ocean are interpretive pieces about climate change. Ocean is regularly performed at our shows while the audience is coming in. Fire is a solo piano piece, written and recorded during the Camp Fire of 2018, wherein the city of Paradise, CA burned.

The gear we used: Steinway Model O piano, Cray violin, JamMan loopers, Fender Precision and Ibanez bass, Arp 2600, Buchla 200e Skylab, Kurzweill K2661, Oberheim Matrix-12, Korg MS20, Yamaha MOXF8, and all those dirty computer tricks that are far less sexy than these instruments

All music recorded at WackoWorld Music, SF, CA, except for False Sky Falling (© 2019 Thomas Dimuzio “p” 2019 Gench Music [BMI] ) was recorded live, outdoors, at Civic Center Plaza, in San Francisco and mixed at Gench. Climate was mixed at WackoWorld and Gench. All other music mixed at WackoWorld.
Endangered ©2019 by Michele Walther.

The Climate Ensemble:
Michele Walther: violin, looper
Thomas Dimuzio: live sampling , organ, Buchla 200e
Scott Brazieal: piano, synthesizer
Bill Noertker: bass
Erik Ian Walker: piano, synthesizers, bass, sound design, drums

Additional Musicians performing for 2º: Nicole Lumetta and Janet Roitz, vocals; Leo Austin-Muehleck, mandolin; Michael McCurdy, upright bass



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