Beneath high cliffs I live alone
swirling clouds swirl all day
inside my hut it might be dim
but in my mind I hear no noise
I passed through a golden gate in a dream
my spirit returned when I crossed a stone bridge
I left behind what weighed me down
my dipper on a branch click clack
Hear No Noise begins with a field recording I made of the dawn chorus here in Seattle recently at a park. May is a really loud time of year for the birds as there are migratory birds drifting through, birds that are mating, and others that are establishing territory. So, there is a lush bed of sound that drifts up initially. The only bit of literal text painting, some drinking gourds will be rattled together at the beginning of the piece and at various places throughout. The rest of the work is slow moving canonical gestures of lush chords shifting gradually over time. The soprano dots the sonic landscape as the text rolls by, but while writing I tried to treat her part as a member of the ensemble, not as a soloist. It is my hope and intention that the piece drifts on effortlessly, though slowly, so that one's perception of time is distorted, and the work overall blending, coexisting, and responding to the field recording - drifting in and out of the sonic woodwork.
Within Chinese poems of this era there are often references and allusions to other poems. Occasionally these references serve as commentary, but more often they serve as a way to add color to the poet's ideas, credence to expression, and pay homage to the past while acknowledging that the moment and our very existence is in constant flux and motion. Hear No Noise - and much of my work - is very much in dialogue with these sentiments, and I hope that a scholar such as Han Shan would approve of my setting of his poem.
Details for the show can be found here, and a short excerpt can be heard below.