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Singing in Scenic Outdoors

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Alice 30 Jul 00 - 12:04 PM
katlaughing 30 Jul 00 - 03:03 PM
Dave Swan 30 Jul 00 - 03:15 PM
Amergin 30 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM
Dave Swan 30 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM
katlaughing 30 Jul 00 - 03:21 PM
Alice 30 Jul 00 - 04:04 PM
Catrin 30 Jul 00 - 04:18 PM
Cap't Bob 31 Jul 00 - 09:36 AM
folk1234 31 Jul 00 - 10:03 AM
MMario 31 Jul 00 - 10:11 AM
Marion 31 Jul 00 - 01:12 PM
Wesley S 31 Jul 00 - 01:32 PM
Joe Offer 31 Jul 00 - 05:07 PM
Mooh 31 Jul 00 - 06:50 PM
Naemanson 31 Jul 00 - 07:25 PM
Alice 31 Jul 00 - 10:10 PM
Shanti 01 Aug 00 - 02:03 PM
Mbo 01 Aug 00 - 02:22 PM
Shanti 01 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM
katlaughing 01 Aug 00 - 03:53 PM
Cap't Bob 01 Aug 00 - 04:22 PM
GUEST, Banjo Johnny 01 Aug 00 - 04:29 PM
Alice 01 Aug 00 - 07:46 PM
Willie-O 02 Aug 00 - 02:21 PM
Alice 26 Aug 00 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Roger in Baltimore 26 Aug 00 - 03:25 PM
Seamus Kennedy 26 Aug 00 - 05:15 PM
Alice 26 Aug 00 - 10:23 PM
Stubs 27 Mar 03 - 10:11 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 28 Mar 03 - 06:03 AM
Coyote Breath 28 Mar 03 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Stewart (not at home) 28 Mar 03 - 08:56 PM
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Subject: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 12:04 PM

Yesterday my son wanted to go fishing, so we loaded the tackle in the car along with Leo, our Samoyed dog, and I drove 30 miles up into the Bridger range near our town to a clear, small, snow fed lake filled with cutthroat trout, called Fairy Lake. It is completely surrounded with wildflowers, an amazing array of varieties, tall trees, and sits at the bottom of a hardscrabble saddle between Sacajawea and Hardscrabble Peaks. I wish I had taken a camera with me. I thought I would be able to find a photo of the lake on the web to show you, but the closest I came is a shot of a trail at the top of the ridge above treeline showing Sacajawea Peak.

Anyway, as my son fished, I walked around the edge of the lake with the dog, stopping every once in awhile to sing a folk song or Italian aria. The lake is at the bottom of a bowl below the saddle between these two peaks, so the sound of people talking across the water is easy to hear. The water is completely crystal clear and cold, and you can see the trout right below the surface. There were a few fly fishers, a couple of people on the edges of the lake, but really not many people. As I walked along, I would meet people and they would ask if I was the one singing. It was a really neat evening, cooler than the heat of the valley where it was in the nineties yesterday. At one point I met a lady who spoke up with a Scottish accent. We talked about the folk songs she had heard me singing, ceilis at home she grew up with, and the fact that her husband is also an artist and they had moved just 18 months ago to the area. By the time I came around to the spot where my son was fishing, he had caught a 12.5" cutthroat. Evening was on us, and we headed home for trout dinner. The next time I go up there I'll take my camera so I can show you this pretty lake.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 03:03 PM

Wow, Alice, that is beautiful! I'll bet the acoustics were wonderful; there's just something about singing out in nature which just makes it all sound better and more magical, to me.

One time, when we lived in a little hill town in Massachusetts, I had gone for a walk down a country road. It was a beautiful day, nature was glorious and suddenly it seemed out of the very aethers, I heard a faint crsytalline voice singing an aria from Mozart. At first I thought I was losing my mind, but when I listened more closely, I heard it again and was treated to my own private "Tanglewood" for about 20 minutes. I later found out from neighbours that some opera singer from NYC had a weekend/summer home there and was often heard practising.

all the best,

kat


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Dave Swan
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 03:15 PM

Alice, I wish I'd been there to hear opera on the lake.

Do you know about the tradition among Tuvan singers in which they'll sit beside a stream and sing a duet with the moving water? Like other people who live outdoors, the Tuvans make music with their environment as well as in their enviroment. Similar traditions exist among rainforest and desert dwellers.

For a good resource covering a wide range of Tuvan styles see the recording and book entitled Deep in the Heart of Tuva, Cowboy Music From the Wild East, on the Ellipsis Arts label.

Cheers,

Dave, who has tickets to hear Huun-Huur-Tu nest week.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Amergin
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM

I agree. There is nothing like singing out in nature or to the music of a river or crick....Back home in Bonners I used to crawl over the dyke every summer and sing with the Kootenai River as accompaniment. It was even better after I "discovered" folk music. Also, I would sing with the wind and the birds and the trees as I walked down the trails there and here in St. Helens, OR. Haven't done that in a while though....ill have to again soon.... There is also something (at least to me) magical (maybe not he right word but I can't describe that feeling) singing to a dead town as you stroll through it at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and everyone's in bed...

Amergin


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Dave Swan
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM

next week.

I have no idea when they'll nest.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 03:21 PM

Nest or not, you are a lucky dog, Dave! And, I second your recommendation of the Tuvan CD. It is excellent.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 04:04 PM

I was still looking for a photo of Fairy Lake on the web, and I happened across pages of a journal of Walkin' Jim Stoltz click here with some sound clips. "Let Me Listen To The Wind", the second sound clip in the journal, is a song about Jim Bridger, the mountain man for whom this range was named. Stoltz mentions Fairy Lake (and mosquitos) but the photo is of Frazier Lake, an oval green shape at the base of cliffs, not as pretty as the wildflowers and trees that rim Fairy Lake. I guess I'll just have to take my camera up next time. By the way, Jim Stoltz hiked this with his guitar.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Catrin
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 04:18 PM

One of my most magical memories is from quite a few years ago when i went on a women's singing weekend near Hay on Wye (South Wales). About twenty of us walked to the river, which was nearby, at about midnight. We practiced making rhythms with pebbles and sticks. The different notes created by the sound of pebble on pebble, starting hesitantly and quietly and building up to a sort of crescendo and then drifting off again, in waves, accompanied by the sound of the river, was too beautiful to put into words.

I stil think about it a lot.

Catrin


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 09:36 AM

Alice, I also enjoy singing and playing in the great outdoors as much as possible, however I'm afraid that my backdrop can't begin to compare with the wonderful scenery you enjoy. Just last week I was out sailing single-handed. There was very little breeze "a drifter" so I started playing a few songs for the cormorants and seagulls. About that time a boat that was drifting a bit faster than my boat pulled along side and wanted a concert.

We live near the AuSable river in Michigan and a few years back I took the banjo and went out along what we call the "High Banks" to to some picking. Whenever a canoe would come by I would launch into "Deliverance". It was a lot of fun listening to the comments the canoeists made.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: folk1234
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:03 AM

Alice;
There is something about folkmusic that makes it sound best when done in a beautiful natural outdoor setting, or in the dead of winter, in a cozy living room with raging fireplace. It sounds like your lake is a natural amphitheater.
I can envision a mudcat gathering - hint, hint. I'll volunteer to be the 'camp cookie'. I'll bring my camp dutch ovens and a stash of home grown culinary herbs.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: MMario
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:11 AM

My grandfather was known as "Caruso" because in the evening he would go down to "the ol' swimming hole" and bathe - and sing opera while he did so. Folk used to take chairs down to the park on the oppisete side of the lake and listen to him


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Marion
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:12 PM

Hmm... I love the outdoors, and I love playing my instruments, but I don't love playing my instruments outdoors. Two reasons:

1. Acoustics - my sound seems so much bigger when I'm indoors.

2. My courage for continuing to play a tune while being bitten by a bug is low.

However, when I go to beautiful places, I do often take an instrument and play to the full moon or the highlands or the ocean - when I played to the Atlantic Ocean I liked the thought that the waves would carry my tunes back to the old country - but this is romantic silliness. The music's better indoors.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Wesley S
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:32 PM

Now THIS is a truly dangerous thread. It makes me want to quit my job in the lowlands and head for the mountains. Alice - shame on you. Really - thankyou for the vivid descriptions.

There are rafting trips available down the Brazos River here in Texas that have various singer/songwriters like Steve Fromholtz who go along to entertain. And I've heard that Connie Dover is involved in some sort of traildrives for tourists.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 05:07 PM

Gee, I hate to spoil the tone of this thread, but it brings up a question I wanted to ask. In the past, I've had some wonderful times singing outdoors, especially at campfires with kids. For some reason, though, our song circles are almost always dead when we sing outdoors. People don't seem to be able to hear each other as well as they do indoors, so it's a little hard to keep people singing together. Maybe it's the way we sit - 20 to 25 people in one big circle works well indoors, where people have to squash together a bit. They tend to spread out when they're outdoors.
Has anybody experienced this same disappointment? It sounds like such a good idea to sing outdoors because we have such wonderful summer evenings here in Sacramento, but it never seems to work. I'm sure our hosts are going to want to sing outside next week, and I'd like to figure out a solution. Any tips?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Mooh
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 06:50 PM

While I was away this past week, I had the opportunity to play mandolin on a steep rocky beach. With my back to the water facing the rocky incline, the sound was magnificent. I love playing among trees too. Outdoor festivals are the best. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Naemanson
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 07:25 PM

I haven't had the opportunity to sing in the mountains, yet, but I have been lucky to have a few wonderful outdoor experiences. My father is a buckskinner and he hosts an annual rendezvous on Labor Day in New Limerick, Maine. (Check your maps!) One year it was cold so we all crowded into one of the teepees. There were 25 of us in there, singing and talking while the night got colder and colder. Finally I went out to get a breath of air and check that the stars were still there. The northern half of the sky was painted with the most breathtaking wash of color as the Northern Lights flared and danced.

Then, more recently, I was hired by the Maine Schooner Association to provide entertainment for the schooners gathered in North Haven inlet for the annual race. They floated us from schooner to schooner on a scow sloop. We had a harp, fiddle, guitar and five voices. That night we sang on board one of the schooners and then slept on board. I woke in the early dawn and went on deck. There was a heavy fog which lifted as I drank my coffee. The sight of the thirty or so schooners slowly emerging from the fog is one of the most memorable sights lodged in my mind.

Joe, I don't think there is anything you can do about the sound outdoors except try to situate the singers with their backs against a wall or other hard surface. That's what we do when Roll & Go is singing in the streets. It bounces the sound out to the people. If you are going to be around the campfire I guess all you can do is make it a small fire or just settle for what you get. If you make it a small fire people may sit in closer. Good Luck and have fun.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:10 PM

Hi, Joe. Singing outside really needs the right acoustical location, like a natural or man made ampitheatre, such as the glacial bowl against a rock wall that I was in or a band shell. Has anyone ever sung at Red Rock, Colorado? Watch out for the campfire smoke. Bad for the voice.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Shanti
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 02:03 PM

Have any of you heard Emma Christian sing? She's from the Isle of Man, and she normally sings and records in places like caves or on the beach, because of the natural acoustical depth. She has a haunting voice and sings in the now extinct language of Manx (another Gaelic form)...as well as in English. She accompanies herself on the harp. The affect is absolutely breathtaking.

Carlos Nikai, the premier Native American flute player also records in outdoor venues. I have one of his CDs that was recorded in some of the Anasazi ruins. All the sounds that naturally would be heard, are included with the music. Eerie and unearthly, but always beautiful! It depends on the type of music, the location and the quality of the equipment being used to record. If you're just singing for yourself, as Alice just said, watch out for smoke...also for bugs.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Mbo
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 02:22 PM

Shanti, check out the Celtic music thread. I really like Emma Christian a lot!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Shanti
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM

She is wonderful! I bought her tape directly from the Isle of Man web site. She had two out at that time, probably more now. I'll check the thread.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 03:53 PM

Same as Alice said, Joe, Colorado is full of red rock sandstone formations which offer natural amphitheatres. If you don't have anything like that, maybe get some people to sit low and others make a ring around them a bit higher, so that their bodies help to contain the sound? Are most of your participants older with possible minor hearing problems which would be exacerbated by no walls? Maybe find a park with shelters whcih would help?

kat


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 04:22 PM

Joe, outdoor circles are especially bad when eveyone has their own cooler full of beer.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: GUEST, Banjo Johnny
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 04:29 PM

DAVE SWAN ... Have you read "Tuva or Bust" by Richard Feynman? == Johnny in OKC


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 01 Aug 00 - 07:46 PM

I wrote a longer response to Joe and then my computer froze and I lost it. Anyway, I wanted to say earlier that my friend Suzanne, the coloratura, always likes to try out the acoustics in any natural space she explores, like when she sang in a kiva. We had a thread awhile back about singing in a dome. It was around that time I tried out the acoustics in the Lewis and Clark Caverns. I've had the desire to record in natural spaces like caves and canyons.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Willie-O
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 02:21 PM

Wesley: Connie Dover was a trail cook for a few years at the High Island Cattle Company Ranch in Wyoming, which sounds like it was pure folkie heaven. My friend Meghan Merker (now a member of the Bunkhouse Orchestra) cooked there too and says they used to sing together all day. And the campfires...Bill Staines was one who dropped by, as mentioned on Connie's album "Somebody".

Unfortunately, like so much of the old west, the scene is no more, the ranch was sold a few years back. Damn. Gone like the MC horses.

We have a teenage neighbour who studies opera singing...she often does her ehtereal vocal warmups walking past our house enroute to catch the school bus. Usually in the misty heather...it is something else. Gives new breath into the hackneyed "Oh what a beautiful morning".

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 26 Aug 00 - 03:00 PM

Here is a picture of Red Rocks in Colorado.RED ROCKS


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: GUEST,Roger in Baltimore
Date: 26 Aug 00 - 03:25 PM

There is something very right and truly folkie about singing in the great outdoors. As Joe has experienced, without amplification, the human voice and most stringed instruments quickly fade unless there is some natural resonating area. The fading gives me a feeling that the song is being absorbed by nature.

So, Joe, make those campfires small and crowd around them. More than ten people in the inner circle begins to make for too large a gathering.

No one has mentioned the benefits of performing outdoors. My favorite outdoor experience was in a natural amphitheater in a woods at night. Electricity was available so there was sound reinforcement and stage lights. I steered my set list towards moonshining songs and songs in the woods. It felt magical to me and several in the audience felt the same magic.

But stage lights outdoors are such an attraction to the insect population. Many a performer has unintentionally swallowed insects while singing outside. One night at the same amphitheater referred to above, I had the distinct pleasure of trying to sing into a microphone as a spider lowered itself on one thin web line just inches from my face. Those situations require some real concentration.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 26 Aug 00 - 05:15 PM

About 9 or 10 years ago I was leading one of my annual tour groups to Ireland, and we took a horseback ride up the path between the mountains in the Gap of Dungloe in Kerry. One of my group laughingly asked me to do a cowboy yodeling song, which I did, and the acoustics were phenomenal! I sounded like the Sons of the Pioneers and Riders in the Sky together, with the yodels echoing back. So Alice and Joe, you're dead right! All the best
Seamus


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Alice
Date: 26 Aug 00 - 10:23 PM

I did make it up to Fairy Lake last Friday, but I didn't have my camera. I was working in an office for a friend most of the day, but had agreed for my son's birthday to drive him and a friend up to Fairy Lake and drop them off to fish. I worked the rest of the afternoon, then came out of the windowless office to see a pouring cold rainstorm, in the midst of smoky fire skies, and headed immediately back up the mountain to pick up the boys at the lake. It was about 7pm by the time I got there, and the air was chilly. The weather has been hot and dry for weeks, so mist was rising from the earth to meet the chill air. The rain had stopped, but I could tell that it had been intense. I had warned the boys to take their coats, and as they loaded the car, I said, "Now you're sure you have everything..., yeah, yeah, mom." Well, they had left their coats on Ryan's bed back home. They were frozen... it had hailed and rained, and the only shelter there was the outhouse, back up the trail from the lake at the campground.

One family had parked in the campground, and as Ryan was singing Weird Al Yankovich songs at the top of his lungs in the outhouse, the guy came up and asked them if they were just hanging out in there... he let them get into his truck to warm up. Oh, and no fish caught.


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Stubs
Date: 27 Mar 03 - 10:11 PM

Many years ago while working in the Canadian bush as a surveyor I had an almost haunting musical experience. A large tract of bush-land was being divided into lots. The job lasted throughout an entire summer as each line had to be cut out. When the chain saws weren't howling the only sounds were ones of nature. One day one of our crew claimed to hear distant singing. The rest of us strained but only heard the sound of birds singing, frogs chirping, and small scurryings through the leaves. Later in the day he made another claim to have heard this mysterious melody, and was met with our own song of laughter and teasing about forest spirits.
The next day we all heard it:quiet, nearly whispering, a wordless, nearly imaginary sound that was all but indistinguishable from the breeze in the trees. It was gone in a moment. We returned to our work in a subdued frame of mind. The nearest house was about a mile away, the next one a half mile or so beyond that. Who could it be?
We had other jobs to attend and did not return to that site daily, but every time that we did the singing could be heard through the trees. This went on for weeks,usually a far away and on-the-wind sound, but was occasionally a little less distant. Our discussions about it included all kinds of imaginings.
Eventually the singing was close enough to actually be recognised as a nearby human voice, although never were individual words made out. It seemed feminine, and somehow elfin. Each day it came a little closer. We found ourselves looking for its creator. Finally we saw someone, a shape running through the forest and gone again. This was to repeat itself over the nest few days.
About that time we met a boy. He was thirteen or so and began following us about one day as we worked, soon exercising his curiosity with multitudes of questions. From the nearest forest home, the best description of him is "hillbilly-ish". Shirtless and barefoot, he could run through the trees like a deer.He was present when we next heard the mysterious songstress.
At our enquiries, he responded ,"That's Angie. She's my sister: there she is" and he pointed into the sun speckled underbrush, thick where no trees grew on the rocky soil. A flash of green and white sprang from the spot and disappeared, as did the arboreal music. We would never have glimpsed her on our own.
Eventually, over days and with her brother's urgings, without forgoing her serenades, Angie came forth from the forest to meet us. About two years younger than her brother, she was indeed a forest sprite, tiny and blonde, pretty as the butterflies she seemed to imitate as she flitted through the trees. She shyly explained that she loved to sing, but only to herself. She made up her own songs, inventing meanigless words and sang them to the trees. Someday she might get a guitar. Someday she might sing on stage. The poverty of the district needed some dreams, some hope of elswhere. Someday.
Angie sang near to us more often after that and often within view. She would sing standing atop a low ridge or sitting on the rail fence that snaked along the back-woods road that led past her ramshackle house down to the lake whose precious waterfronts we were severing. She would sing from her heart and her dreams to the forest. Perhaps she sings there still. Perhaps her children do. If perhaps she sings to a human audience, I'm sure they are as haunted in their arm chairs or their auditorium as I was in the forest. I wonder if they are also as pleasantly haunted in their dreams?


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 06:03 AM

Beautiful, Stubs! Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 08:28 AM

Stubs, what a wonderful story!

The wild places are not silent and their music is there for all who would but listen. When that music is inspiration for human music that music is the most beautiful and complete celebration of life that is possible.

I have a friend who has a small quantity of land in Colorado. The land is remote and difficult to reach but once there, is a soothing and comfortable place. His favorite thing to do on this land is to sit and listen. He will awake before dawn and sometimes sit in one spot until the sun has long set. 16, 18, 20 hours at a time! He says that he never suffers from cramps or numbness when he does this because he "becomes the earth".

The San Francisco Folk Music Club used to have "encampments" (probably still does) in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at a site called Kirby Cove. There are old WWII gun emplacements in the area which provide excellent acoustical venues. We once did a "float trip" down the Sacramento River. Two huge inflatable "rafts", probably more than fifty people. We would stop and perform mini-concerts at river-front parks along the way. One day we decided that we would only sing or play songs somehow related to water. Everything from The Skye Boat to A Capital Ship, to Over the Waterfall. We spent most of that day with that "restriction" and seemed to barely scratch the surface of "watery" music. The sound, across the water, was beautiful.

I like music done indoors, especially acoustic, non amplified in ANY way. But music outdoors is awesome, especially when there is just one person, responding to their surroundings.

I think I will try "singing the waters" when up in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone this summer.

CB


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Subject: RE: Singing in Scenic Outdoors
From: GUEST,Stewart (not at home)
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 08:56 PM

This past St. Paddy's Day I took my fiddle to Seattle Center hoping to find an Irish session to sit in on, but no luck - not much going on. So I went to the courtyard of the Intiman Theater - a fantastic acoustic space completely enclosed with a fountain and sculpture in the center - and had my own solo Irish Session. This is an out-of-the-way place, but a few people came by, including someone who captured me on his camcorder. It's a great acoustic place to play, and the Seattle Song Circle meets there on Sat eve of the NW Folklife Festival (Mem. Day weekend).

When the weather is nice (not too often) I like to play fiddle in Carkeek Park, just a short walk down from my house, on the shore of Puget Sound (NW Seattle). The acoustics are not great, but the view out over the Sound and the Olympic Mts is quite inspiring.

And for truely fantastic acoustics, try the gun emplacements at Fort Worden State Park (Port Towsend, WA) during Fiddle Tunes. There is a 1-2 sec echo which makes for some interesting effects.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Mudcat time: 12 December 3:28 AM EST

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