Water, rocks, feathers, bones, pinecones, flowers, roots, ice and wood are cultivated as instruments in a collection of compositions inspired by Chinese wilderness poetry from the Tang Dynasty. Ziran is a work for 3 players, in which all sounds are produced live from found natural materials. Each of the individual pieces comprising the collection is derived from a specific poem and has a unique instrumentation determined by the poem's subject matter. Throughout the entire work the intricacies and latent musicality of the natural “instruments” are explored, with a focus on the revelation of very quiet phenomena.

The Chinese word “ziran” literally means “self-ablaze.” As a philosophical concept it can be translated as “self-so,” “occurrence appearing of itself,” “spontaneous,” or “natural.” The texts on which this set of musical compositions are based come from the ancient tradition of “rivers and mountains” poetry, and include works by Li Po, Meng Chiao, Po Chü-i, and Ch’i Chi which were written in the 8th - 9th centuries C.E. With deep roots in Daoist and Ch’an Buddhist (Zen) thought, these poems emerge from a conception of wilderness as a dynamic cosmology in which humans participate in the most fundamental way; a poetry that articulates the experience of living as an organic part of the natural world.

mp3 excerpts from ziran:
mongol falcon (1.8MB)
feathers, bowed redwood and driftwood

idle clouds (2.6MB)
a spectrum of rocks

Ziran featured on KQED TV's local arts program SPARK (including a link to view the segment online)
other current projects