Fourth Floor Basement0:00
For My Mum0:00
Up By the Ribs0:00
Water Is Silk0:00
A Hundred Moods0:00
THE SPACE WE MAKE ALBUM (2013)
ANNOTATIONS FROM THE COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS:
Adaptation of the traditional American folk song "Barges" (public domain) by Emma Wiseman and Caitlin Scholl; Piano by Caitlin Scholl; Vocals by Emma Wiseman and Caitlin Scholl
EMMA WISEMAN: This song was something that Caitlin had suggested for the opening of the show and was one that she had always sung growing up. The process of adapting the lyrics to reflect some of the input we were working with for the overall performance was interesting to me since it was so much less abstract than the way we had all been interpreting that input through movement.
The performance of this song ended up being a pretty beautiful moment in the show, with the whole cast walking through the audience while singing and playing instruments. I think the pretty, nostalgic nature of Barges really put the audience at ease at the outset, maybe making them less apprehensive of the weird, structureless night of performance they had signed up for. Suckers.
CAITLIN SCHOLL: “Barges” was a creative contribution from my mother, who had sung this little tune as a child at summer camp. In turn, she taught it to me as a child, and this was how I, as a five or six year old, learned to sing in harmony. So, working with this song had special meaning for me...
My mother always told me that it was written a long time ago by a little girl. She lived high on a bluff overlooking a river or canal that was a thoroughfare for passing freighters and barges. The girl, a cripple, was bound to the confines of her bedroom, and would spend hours watching the barges passing on the water below, wondering about the places they were visiting, and the cargo they held. While this is only one version of this song’s origins, it is the one I always knew, and it captivated me as it seemed to speak to the power of the imagination in transcending one’s own physicality, or physical space.
Composed by Richard Vaudrey (includes audio sample of "I'm a Steady Rollin' Man" by Robert Johnson, 1987 (public domain)); Cello by Richard Vaudrey; Vocals by Richard Vaudrey & Chorus (Emma Wiseman, Emma Judkin, Lea Fulton, Branic Howard, Caitlin Scholl, Sophie Maguire, John Mosloskie)
RICHARD VAUDREY: The construction of this piece was very much inspired by time constraint. To construct a musical narrative for a multi-movement developmental piece overnight so choreography could begin, I decided on two simple themes over one sentimentally familiar chord progression - developing changes in texture to denote different movements. The piece was performed live as a solo cello improvisational line over each movement’s multi track, triggered live by the cellist (me) when required. I chose G major as the key of choice for achieving the ‘nostalgic love’ sensibility required in the works inspiration - an autobiographical story from one of our contributors...
Composed by Phillipe Bronchtein (music) & Tripp Burwell (lyrics); Guitar by Phillipe Bronchtein; Vocals by Phillipe Bronchtein
PHILIPPE BRONCHTEIN: I was really inspired by '80s Bruce Springsteen for this one. Low synthesizer pads and heavily compressed, whispered vocals. The lyrics were very straightforward so I wanted something that matched them but also added an intense mood to the whole composition.
TRIPP BURWELL: I had originally titled the lyrics that I wrote (and which Philippe wrote the music for) as "Someone Who Can Stay." As you might have surmised, it's about loving a woman in a place - and all senses of the word - that you can't be, and not being able to talk about it with that gal because you haven't gotten to the spot where you can talk about things like that with her. So anyways, it just kind of throws me to have it called "Tripp's Song" when it's hardly about me at all.
To add to it, I would just say that Philippe is a great musician and I've wanted to make music with him for a while. Unfortunately, I don't know a thing about writing music and only occasionally do I ever come up with any halfway decent poetry that could be used as song lyrics. However, this seemed like a great chance to combine those two disparate areas.
I guess I'd also say that I feel like I have a better handle on the coordinates of love these days (as much as any of us can).
Composed by Branic Howard & Richard Vaudrey; Guitar by Branic Howard; Cello by Richard Vaudrey
RICHARD VAUDREY: I was oblivious to the purpose and narrative behind this one; to me this was simply about the wonderful musical sensibilities of sitting down with Branic Howard and playing. Of course the less typical environment of hanging chairs and dancers surrounding us was a huge influence but it was never rationally thought out. In fact, writing these reflective notes is even the first I had seen the title to this piece. I suppose this was the beauty of the input of ‘The Space We Make’s’ community content - it was touched by the artists but never over-thought - allowing for a far greater freedom of expression.
BRANIC HOWARD: Someone was a tying a chair to the rafters while Rich and I were improvising to the movements in the room. Cog is a wheelbarrow of small people running around a hot attic; arranjeuz was a sort of thematic transgression on a composition submitted by a supporter of the event. I remarked on several occasions that I didn’t want anything to do with that music—but we were able to touch it from every side, I guess to go gropingly was the way in.
Fourth Floor Basement
Composed by Branic Howard; Electronics by Branic Howard
BRANIC HOWARD: I began by making a diagram of each dancer’s movements—on the couch, across room, in circles like this, crouching, stopping, starting. I wanted to map their positions with sounds; each movement was to be associated with an electronic sound. During the performance I integrated their motions into an electronic improvisation using those sounds.
On the album is something completely different. Because the visual of the dancers was no longer available, the sounds didn’t make as much sense, which I think lends to the visceral nature of the piece. Instead I completely remixed the sounds into a short electronic piece.
Composed by John Mosloskie; Electronics by John Mosloskie
JOHN MOSLOSKIE: I recorded the performers reciting different elements contributed by our donors, one of which was a costume suggestion for a gymnastic leotard. The combination of these words is eerie and humorous, and makes me think of a torso without a head or appendages.
Initially, we were going to take these multiple sound clips and use them in a random installation during the final performance, but it never materialized. I also gleaned many sounds from within the building on a night alone exploring. The music itself is a rendition I arranged, based on the accompaniment to a piece choreographed by Lea Fulton, Hanna Satterlee and John Hoobyar.
When I revisited the material post-performance, I decided to enmesh the performers’ audio recitations within the music itself, and thought it appropriate to allow the space to speak. Each sample quickly turns on a suspended light, reveals it’s image, and is extinguished.
For My Mum
Composed by Richard Vaudrey; Cello by Richard Vaudrey
RICHARD VAUDREY: A simple instruction - it had to be a solo, and a melodic romantic cello piece. I just thought back to the myriad of romantic era salon pieces for solo instruments, or voice, and really just formulated a similar plan, an arcing structure and plenty of sentimental melody.
Up By the Ribs
Composed by John Mosloskie, Caitlin Scholl & Branic Howard; Guitar by John Mosloskie; Percusssion by John Mosloskie; Vocals by John Mosloskie, Caitlin Scholl, Branic Howard
JOHN MOSLOSKIE: This was, as I recall, the primary collaboration I was involved in once we arrived in Upper Jay. It’s tripartite nature very much emerged from our improvisation in that first session. Caitlin really set the course for us, excising bits of Billy Collins and conjoining them melodically. The final recorded version is a reimagined arrangement of the work that was actually performed.
BRANIC HOWARD: Ah the ribs. Sometimes collaboration requires you to string yourself up and be the marionette. Not in the negative sense that you have no control, but in a way that the group sort of steers you into positions that you wouldn’t naturally find yourself. I am not accustomed to being in basements all afternoon, forgetting the time of day.
CAITLIN SCHOLL: This was the first song I worked on for this project, and it went through many incarnations before reaching its present state on our album. John, Branic, and myself got together in the basement of the building, which is cool and quiet even in the summer, the river running just outside the back wall. The light is low and blue-hued, and sitting on old high-back armchairs amidst antique trunks, a vintage wurlitzer and organ, tangled wires, jumbled drum sets, amps, angled wooden support beams, small dirty windows high up on the walls, a silent wood-fired boiler, oriental rugs, and interior paned glass dividing the space here and there, we nestled in and began to play, not really sure what was going to happen. We had decided to work with a textual contribution from one of the donors, which was a Billy Collins poem called “Some Days.” We felt the arc of the poem existed in three parts, and so as we played and experimented we found sounds or melodies that seemed to gel into what would later evolve into the three “movements” of this piece. Additionally, two of the dancers were also working on a piece right outside of our space on the ramp leading from the basement to the street. So while we composed, they choreographed, using the poem and the spillover sound to instruct the piece they created, which would later be performed to the music we were making.
As our work progressed, the direction changed at some point from creating a soundscape to a “song,” and thus the third movement of the piece was born, which most closely resembles what “Up By the Ribs” is today, especially on the album. The lyrics were mined from “Some Days,” and refashioned into an abstract and truncated version of the poem, the resounding finale echoing the line “striding around like a vivid god.” Its multi-vocal delivery and soaring guitar licks imply almost funnily the meaning of both the poem and the piece we were creating in collaboration with each other and those two dancers outside: that the everyday rituals of our lives have - through the smallest things, and in the most mundane ways - the ability to turn us on our heads so that we can see ourselves suddenly for what we are, and equally for what we only believed ourselves to be.
Water is Silk
Composed by Branic Howard; Guitar by Branic Howard; Cello by Richard Vaudrey; Vocals by Branic Howard
BRANIC HOWARD: Mitchell’s poem [one of the project contributors] sort of ricocheted off me in a hot, fourth floor apartment in Queens. I was drinking gin and trying to imagine a song where a floating woman, the goldrush, and an okie and his wife might all coexist. I wanted to create something that could fluidly incorporate these elements into a history evocative of a place and time. It had to be something uniquely American.
When Hanna came up out of the river in a silky slip during rehearsal, we had no idea that the elements were going to work so well. I think it was a really beautiful moment on the night of the performance, one that made the whole thing very special.
RICHARD VAUDREY: My part in this was simply using the cello in a way I enjoy the most - minimal simplistic input enhancing the emotive quality of Branic’s lyrics. It’s a pleasure to do this kind of collaborative live arranging.
Composed by Phillipe Bronchtein (lyrics adapted from the tradition folk song "The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night" (public domain)); Guitar ny Phillipe Bronchtein; Vocals by Phillipe Bronchtein
PHILIPPE BRONCHTEIN: I just wanted to make this as fun timey and folksy as possible. It’s such a great story and the natural cadence fits so effortlessly over any chord changes, that I wanted to focus on that energy. I remember I kept messing up the lyrics and had to do a bunch of takes to get it right. It was a really fun one to record. I was shirtless and drunk for it.
A Hundred Moods
Composed by John Mosloskie & Branic Howard (music) / John Mosloskie & Caitlin Scholl (lyrics); Guitar by John Mosloskie; Banjo by John Mosloskie; Percussion by Richard Vaudrey; Vocals by John Mosloskie, Caitlin Scholl, Branic Howard
JOHN MOSLOSKIE: Sitting on a stone on the banks of the river Ausable with a banjo. The stone is probably ten thousand years old, and the river water has been reborn over hundreds of centuries, and here I feel all that age not as a yoke but as a feather in ink pushed along by the August breeze. Some things are effort and some things ease - just let me remain here.
BRANIC HOWARD: John has a wonderful sense for melodic contour. As we sat, him on banjo and myself on guitar, we listened to the sounds. I don’t recall ever asking when something seemed right. As the parts came, others came too, and suddenly there was a group of people and a song that was really working. It was a very natural experience.
CAITLIN SCHOLL: This song sprang up from the river itself, it seemed. John and Branic picked it out between currents, their feet practically in the water as the melody and parts were composed. I came in halfway through, adding harmonies and helping John write the rest of the lyrics, which were based off of a poem one of the contributors - a local poet named Roger Mitchell - had given us.
During the nights spent in the basement of that old building, making the recordings that would become the album produced from this project, this was the first song we laid down. Rich joined in with the tambourine, and I remember feeling very calm and happy as the hours spun away into small numbers, and as I recall it didn’t take very many takes to feel like we had captured the song in the state it needed to be, which was just as it is, like water. Everyone was focused and present and the whole night evolved from that point... I remember feeling very lucky to be there, with such talented musicians around me, all steady and brilliant and working as if there was nothing else that could exist in the world beyond each other and those songs in that space on that night.
RICHARD VAUDREY: For me this was about being there, in one of the most beautiful environments in the world watching talented musician’s weave magic by the river - providing time with a tambourine was a practical addition to the folk sound of this song that physically led the audience out of the Upper Jay Arts Center onto the bridge over the river for the finale of the Space We Make.