INSTRUMENTS IN TREES

Instruments in Trees is a semi-composed/semi-improvised work for arboreal materials and upside-down string quartet (two cellos, viola, and violin). Sticks, twigs, leaves, needles, pinecones, bark, and lichen are cultivated as sound sources in a performance that investigates cycles and processes inherent to trees. These materials are used raw, to prepare the strings, and in the creation/assemblage of new instruments such as the “Long Twig,” “Driftwood Pipe Organ,” “Pine Cone Xylophone,” “Eucalyptus Curtains,” and “Autumn Bonsais”. Throughout the work there is a special emphasis on exploring very quiet phenomena and the subtle intricacies of sounds not usually considered musical. Instruments in Trees is the result of a year and a half of experimentation and improvisation with these rich materials. It was originally developed for a residency at Engine 27 in New York in April 2003.



THE MAKING OF INSTRUMENTS IN TREES

MPEG3s of exerpts from the piece:

THOUSAND-FOOT PINES (1.7MB)
Bowed long twig & bowed leaf
FUSANG (2.9 MB)
Pinebranches & driftwood pipeorgan- first bowed then rubbed with Japanese maple leaves; Prickly cherries sliding on cello strings behind a melodic driftwood pipeorgan & pinecone duet
THINGS GAMBOL AMONG BRANCHES (2.2MB)
Bowed leaves swooping & birds from slivers of wood; Driftwood threaded through strings of the violin, viola & cellos, and bowed
IN RISING WIND (3.1 MB)
Pinecone Xylophone & driftwood mobiles; Swishing the driftwood pipeorgan, pinecones, & stringed instruments with long pine needles; Upsidedown string quartet (2 cellos, viola, violin)

Three Thoughts on the Intersection of Nature & Music by Cheryl E. Leonard

RAW MATERIALS & CONSTRUCTION

The search for materials continues in the Sierras. Does this mean I can write off my ski rental?

Eucalyptus bark courtesy of Golden Gate Park.
Driftwood of all shapes & sizes collected from several expeditions to Point Reyes National Seashore.
Constructing the Driftwood Pipe Organ
Autumn Bonsais and parts for a Driftwood Bonsai
INSTRUMENTS & PREPARATIONS
The Small Pine Branch
Driftwood Cloud Mobiles
The Prickly Cherry Preparation
Autumn Bonsais
Driftwood Bonsai
Cello prepared with driftwood pieces for the high howlies section
The Driftwood Pipeorgan
Stage left at Engine 27 in NYC
Rehearsal setup in the Leonard Family Studio
THE INSTRUMENTS IN ACTION
Tim explores "Fronzy" the palm frond
Cheryl bows a cone on the Medium Pine Branch
John makes rain droplets with pine needles
On redwood bark Ann simulates small critters digging
Patty with a Raw Wood Cicada
The Pinecone Xylophone duet live at Engine 27
Crunching lichen on a pine branch
One of many methods of playing the Driftwood Pipe Organ
Playing a bowed leaf, Tim creates the sounds of creatures flying by
The Driftwood Cloud Mobiles in action