THE FOREST :57
This was performed on a small bamboo fife which I constructed some 30+ years ago. It is modeled after a bamboo that I then owned made in India. The Indian flutes have very thin walls and create the sound that is most appealing to me.
I acquired a length of thin bamboo and made this one.
The little melody was inspired by Baka (Pygmy) music I was listening to in preparation for writing music for a National Geographic Television documentary about the Lowland Gorillas of the Congo.
This melody is an example of something simple that is complete and needs no additions, no harmonization, or orchestration.
I KNOW HOW 2:30
From “Feathers at the Flame,” by Laurie Carlos – directed by Marlies Yearby.
It was recorded at the home of Laurie Carlos in St, Paul, MN. I was staying there up on her loft floor.
Marlies Yearby's Movin Spirits Dance Company was in residence at the Guthrie Theater workshoping “Feathers.” The loft became my studio. The recording was done with a 4 track Tascam cassette tape deck with a
Shure SM58 microphone.
I later gave the recorder to Isaiah Parker.
Cooper-Moore, voice and balloon.
THE GATHERING 1:32
A somewhat menacing sketch that came during the time that Assif Tsahar and I were working on “TELLS UNTOLD." It was not meant to ever be performed, but is music from my head for me.
MIDI – Percussion, Strings, English Horn, French Horns -
On listening I think the cow bell is a sound that I sampled.
I found that of MIDI files the English horn was one of the more expressive.
BLACK STRAP SWEET 2:09
My first instrument was the piano.
In 1974 I began building and taking seriously the playing of the instruments. But the instruments and piano have never come together, even though when I play my constructs they are always informed by my piano playing. This has been true also of my orchestral flute playing.
The example here is piano with mouth-bow. The mouth-bow has a microphone attached and is played though an effect which compresses, distorts and transposes the signal.
Each instrument is in its own place and is speaking its on language, and for me are complementary. I do understand that the process here is one of the integration of self.
The mouth-bow is one of the oldest, most primitive and simple musical instruments that humans have produced. Musical bows have been found all over the world wherever hunting bows have been found.
The piano is the most complicated acoustic instrument created by humans. Although the bow is now thought of as a weapon, it is not clear whether it was used in this way originally. Cave paintings in southern France dated to around 15,000 BCE, show a bow being used as a musical instrument, so this use certainly has a long history.
IF ONLY 3:09
Christmas 1956, I received a crystal radio.
A crystal radio is a very simple radio which was popular in the beginning days of radio. It doesn't need a power supply but works from the power of the radio signal itself. Mine had a hundred foot wire antenna strung between trees and a wire that went to a pipe in the ground. I listened to it through headphones.
The strongest regular signal was an amateur radio operator, W4JCV, who lived in the area and owned the local Radio-TV repair shop. He sometimes used Morse code to communicate. I didn't understand any of it but it was so musical. Later I learned code and would spend hours and hours shortwave radio listening.
Using Morse code in a composition is something I have wanted to do for years.
Morse code uses combinations of dots and dashes for letters.
“IF ONLY” looks like this .. ..-. --- -. .-.. -.--
My wife, Doreen, asks, “If only what?” I answer, “If only whatever.”
Cooper-Moore, Piano and Morse Code Translator.
STEAL AWAY 2:27
Traditional African American Spiritual Song.
This arrangement was for the play “A Darker Side of the Earth,” by Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate
of the United States. The performance was held at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN in 2000.
The play takes place on a slave plantation in the Southern United States.
The scene is of two groups of slaves on Sabbath Day. They are across a field from each another.
One group is praying and singing and doing sewing and mending. The other is dancing, drinking liquor, playing instruments and carrying on.
Growing up I would at times spend all day Sunday in church but most enjoyed being around people having fun and letting loose. The scene was a very familiar one to me.
“STEAL AWAY,” is a favorite.
Voice, triangle, stamping sticks on wooden box covered in a blanket.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE 2:32
This is one of ten compositions commissioned for the Roselle High School Chorus in New Jersey.
Words are by Arthur Wilson. I met Arthur after he heard me playing in the subway at 8th street on the N-R line. He dropped his card in my basket and said, “Call me.” He was working at the Public Theater and hired me to do workshops for their homeless program and a program where I would compose for and play behind poets and playwrights reading their works on WBAI Radio broadcast.
“Trouble in Paradise,” was written by Arthur after the bombing of the World Trade Center by terrorist in the mid nineties, a warning of what was to become. He had gone to Roselle High, and the director of the chorus had taught him. The day that I presented the compositions to her and the choir, she informed me that I would be conducting my compositions at the performance. The only mistakes that the young singers made were from my mistakes in conducting. They were wonderful young people.
ARBA MINCH GARDEN 3:32
Three String Fret-less Banjo
This banjo piece was recorded in the garden of the hotel where I stayed in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, December 2008.
I was there for the Festival of a Thousand Stars to assist a team from Israel led by Assif Tsahar. The team was filming a documentary on the festival and doing the sound tech for it.
The music of the 57 tribal groups that performed inspired me toward thinking more concerning simplicity of playing. This was recorded early in the morning on a Sunday. It is also used in the construction of “Morning Prayers.”
PIANO SOLO – KUHF HOUSTON, TX 4:45
David Dove of Nameless Sound Productions had me come to Houston to do some teacher training sessions and workshops in shelters for battered women, the homeless, families with a parents with HIV, and community centers. There was also a performance with my trio consisting of Nioka Workman, Forbes Graham and my self. To promote the trio concert I was asked to do an interview at the University of Houston's radio station, KUHF. When I arrived in the studio, the host pointed to a nine foot Steinway grand piano and asked if I would play it on the show. It wasn't what I had in mind. Piano was not what I'd be playing at the concert. But after running some scales on it I was hooked. It was one of the best pianos I've ever played. The station broadcast classical music only and I was the first of a kind I was later told.