Making Place for flute and electronics, version 1. Video link on YouTube
Katharine Norman: Making Place, for instrument and live electronics (2013, rev. 2016) – a Malaysian version created for flute and performed by Jean Penny (2019-20) Making Place represents a walk along a path, a mapping of the quotidian, the familiar. It is a ‘poetic exploration of place, and place making’ (http://www.novamara.com/making-place-2/). The score is semi-improvisatory, consisting of many composed and freely pitched musical gestures; it is an interactivework, where the performer’s playing triggers texts, visual animations and sound processing. I have re-imagined and adapted Making Place for flute (it was originally written for piano) and located it in Malaysia. The original photos and sounds of an English environment have been replaced with images and sounds we recorded in Malaysia during our years of living and working at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultran Idris, Tanjong Malim in central Malaysia. Shifting this walk to a place that was once just outside the window of my Faculty office, but now sits in memory, has created opportunities for considering further intercultural research ideas (see https://www.jeanpenny.com), with upcoming publications focussing on Foucauldian heterotopias (e.g. in The Routledge Companion to Autoethnography and Self-Reflexivity in Music Studies) as well as phenomenological investigations currently underway. Sifting through photos and hunting for recordings of the locality (which we had casually captured in passing) brings back many memories and connections to place: evening walks undertaken in and around the university when the cool air after sunset relieved the heat of the day a little; the humidity hanging in the air, along with the heavy darkness after yet another glorious sunset; the tropical clouds that had gathered all day vanished; the scents of countless evening meals—curries, fried fish, rice, char kway teow, chilli, papaya—and, as often as not, the durian stalls along the roads. Around nine o’clock on these evenings, students would begin to arrive for rehearsals that might continue until midnight, taking advantage of empty rooms and cooler conditions. Our walks often took us out to the UPSI Proton City campus where we would hear the call to prayer coming from multiple directions and echoing back from the nearby mountains. There we also recorded bull frogs and birds, and everywhere there was intermittent (and not so intermittent) traffic noise. The Mak Yong rehearsal was occurring in the Pangung Budaya of the faculty one evening. It is a traditional form of theatre originating in north western Malaysia that incorporates dance, drama and music. These sounds and images were part of our everyday experiences. Making Place is in 5 sections. The 1st features isolated, monolithic flute gestures against processed environmental sounds and images; the 2nd traces stilted, meandering pathways; the 3rd, static and fragmentary, uses harmonisation to create shadowy, layered textures; the 4th becomes increasingly frenetic with short, colliding flute gestures leading to a final slow, reflective section.
Making Place for alto flute and electronics (version 2). Video link here
In this version I have re-located, re-conceptualised and re-arranged Katharine Norman's work for alto flute. The COVID-19 pandemic, in encouraging a turning towards the inside, towards re-evaluations of intimacy, and a deeper awareness of the nearby, has inspired a more quotidian version of Making Place centered around a walking/cycling trail, originally a railway track, near my home in Victoria, Australia. The Ballarat-Skipton rail trail covers 55 kilometers between the city of Ballarat and the small town of Skipton and includes (24) entry points at the sites of old stations. The track passes through native grasslands, swamps, forests, towns, and farmland, and crosses several historic trestle bridges. This was goldrush territory in the 19th century: at each ‘stop’ or ‘station’ along the track a brief history is given, with emphasis on the gold mining, colonial developments of the area and the establishment of the railway (now defunct). A much briefer reference to earlier history is given here and there of the First Nations people (Australian Aborigines), the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung people, whose connection with this area goes back tens of thousands of years. This story is far more difficult to find and emerges as a muted underpinning, a murmuring that prompts contemplations of ancient societies and contemporary connections. Environmental sounds heard in this rural location are muted: frog calls, birds (kookaburras, magpies, parrots), our footsteps, the ever-present wind, the gate at the end of the trail, an occasional nearby car or dog bark, and the greetings of infrequent fellow-trekkers.