SYMPHONY OF SEASONS: Four Independent Music/Video Works, 2002-2004
Total Duration: 53:01
1. JEWELS OF JANUARY, 2002, 9:39 min.
JEWELS OF JANUARY is the first of a set of video and music pieces by Priscilla McLean entitled SYMPHONY OF SEASONS. This was McLean’s second video for performance, the first being MILLing in the ENNIUM in 2001. The music and video are equals, each enhancing the other, but the music can also stand alone. The video was taken in two locations: the icy January brook in front of the McLeans’ farmhouse in the Taconic Mts. of New York, and a group of large hanging icicles on Rte. 22 heading towards the Vermont border a few miles away. The video took three years to film, in order to get the exact right ice images in the ever-changing brook. The technique of combining images was accomplished through the Videonics Analog-Digital Mixer, and is the first video work created by McLean that uses all her own images.
The music, realized on the StudioVision and Vision Sequencer, is a combination of recorded live performance on a large suspended “bowed chime” using a bass bow, creating a series of icy long pitches that underlie the work, plus piano, clarinet, ringing glacial rocks, wind chimes, sounds from the brook— all sampled on the ASR-10 Synthesizer and also recorded on tape recorders. JEWELS OF JANUARY was premiered at the premiere MILLing in the ENNIUM concert by The McLean Mix on March 22, 2002, at Missouri Western State College. This concert was performed from 2002 to 2007 throughout the U.S. and England (2004).
2. THE EYE OF SPRING, 2003, 10:05 min.
In January of 1999 Priscilla McLean began filming to create a symphony” of four independent video and music works depicting the four seasons around her house in the Taconic Mountains of New York State, using the natural images in artistic video collages. Her goal was to create a symbiosis of music and video so that the two would become one artistic vision. As it turned out, the music also survives on its own, as heard in the Centaur album: MUSIC FROM THE SOUNDS OF THE EARTH, CRC CD 3249 (2012). The second video and music work from SYMPHONY OF SEASONS, THE EYE OF SPRING focuses on McLean’s voice, with mesmerizing vocal sounds and singing, conjuring the dreamy sexual longing that the spring awakens in all creatures. Priscilla McLean intones and sings in chorus several Latin names for the perennial flowers in her garden, as flower images drift in and out of focus. Near the end of the music, a cascading flute melody arises just as a monarch butterfly lands on a globe thistle and soon flies off in a backward flip, over the roof of her house, as seen on the video. McLean is the sole performer, using vocal techniques, along with the ASR-10 Sampling Synthesizer, wooden recorder (flute), mix of harp and xylophone, and layering on the computer (Studio Vision).
3. JULY DANCE, 2003, 7:17 min.
The third piece in the SYMPHONY OF SEASONS quartet of videos and music by Priscilla McLean, JULY DANCE is a brief frolic with summer, with all the Northeastern U.S. in celebration, from jiving birch trees to children playing with balloons. McLean accompanies all with her ad hoc percussion “table” of skinned firewood logs and croquet posts strewn upon resonators and placed in a neighbor’s 200-acre field, to dance with the blowing wind as she plays. The main video instrument used is a Videonics Digital Video Mixer. Some of the other unusual visual effects were created thanks to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and their artist-in-residence 2001-2 McLean Mix commission and use of the iEAR Electronic Arts Studio. Priscilla McLean worked with Joseph Reinsel and the Photoshop video After-Effects computer program, which allowed McLean as percussion player to roll up in a ball and blow away in the wind!
The music is a romp, with squealing balloons, violin effects, wooden recorder and ocarina, a moaning microphone cord, a metal pizza pan, flexatone— all performed in layers on the Studio Vision computer program by McLean, with children laughing and the Korg WaveStation Digital Synthesizer. JULY DANCE premiered at Cleveland State University during the McLean Mix “MILLing in the ENNIUM” concert, March 22, 2004, and continued to be part of the concert season through 2007. This is one of the most popular pieces in the set, and is available on YouTube (see URL).
4. AUTUMN REQUIEM, Music by Priscilla and Barton McLean (See COLLABORATIONS). Video by Priscilla McLean, 2004, 26:00 min.
AUTUMN REQUIEM was created as a result of a McLean Mix artist residency at the iEAR Program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2001-2. Its "requiem" thematic content was originally inspired by the tragic yet renewing nature of the fall season in the USA Northeast, with all its beauty, starkness, death, and eventual rebirth. The visual images are directly taken from Priscilla's camera work during September of 2000 in the Mt. Katahdyn area of Maine, and in Rensselaer County, New York in October. As the tragedy of September 11 unfolded, a new heightened awareness of the ideas of tragedy and renewal was in the minds of the artists as they continued to create their "requiem," although a decision was made to not directly involve this event in specific details of the work. Various texts are used, including one describing the requiem of autumn by Henry David Thoreau from his "Journal". The familiar "Dias Irae" melody is also performed, plus other references to autumn which the listener can identify. Singing is performed by Priscilla McLean, and at times she sings and plays the violin simultaneously, as in the Dias Irae. She also used several small and invented instruments, including squealing balloons. This piece was performed live with video, premiering on March 22, 2002 at Missouri Western State College during the premiere of the MILLing in the ENNIUM concert, which was performed through 2007 all over the U.S. and England (2004).
The images and sounds, although derived from and inspired by one of the greatest displays of nature and color in the world, are nevertheless made more abstract, allowing the work to exist on many levels of perception, all of which can be realized and enjoyed simultaneously or upon repeated hearings. The video portion was created in the McLeans' home studio, with additional support from the iEAR studios in working with the Adobe “Aftereffects” video processing system, Joseph Reinsel, technical assistant. One of the main benefits of the residency was to enhance the McLeans' repertoire of audio processing capabilities, and to this end, Barton McLean fashioned a powerful audio processing system using elements of MAX/MSP software. The resulting live audio processing involved a gamut of delays, pitch shifting, sampling, resonators, filters, and granular synthesis (derived from Dan Truman's "Munger" patch), controlled live via a Slidemate MIDI controller. This work is largely improvised in some details, but tightly structured in its entirety. It can be experienced on YouTube at the above URL address.
Live performance with video, stereo tape, written with Priscilla, who also did the video on a Videonics Mixer and analog VHS tape. Barton McLean, amplified bicycle wheel, soprano recorder, flexatone, clariflute, party horn. Priscilla McLean, voice, violin, native flute, soprano recorder, balloons. MAX/MSP (mostly MSP) software customized on a program by Barton, utilizing 4 channels of delay/pitch shifting/flanging in various ways. Also employing Dan Truemans “Munger” object, which improvises on audio input. This work formed the anchor for McLean Mix tours of 2002 through 2007.
Premiered at Missouri Western State Univ 3/22/02. Other perf at: Univ of Louisville, 3/25/02, Transylvania Univ (3/27/02), Mansfield Univ (4/1/02), iEAR at RPI (4/24/02), Cal State-Fresno (2/22/03), Univ of California-Santa Cruz (2/24/03), Univ. of California-Berkeley (2/25/03), Radford Univ (3/6/03), Cleveland State Univ. (3/22/04), Illinois Wesleyan U (3/24/04), SE Oklahoma State Univ. (3/29/04), Oklahoma Baptist U (3/30/04), Arkansas State Univ (4/5/04), SUNY-Geneseo (4/10/04), Hope College (4/14/04), Daemon Col (4/21/04), Kingston Univ, London, 5/12/04), Royal Northern Col of Music-Manchester, UK (5/15/04), SUNY-New Paltz (3/1/05), Washington & Lee Univ (3/5/05), Univ of Miami, Coral Gables (3/10/05), Mississippi Univ of Women, Columbus (3/16/05), Abiline Christian U (3/18/05), Rice Univ (3/21/05), St. Marys College, Notre Dame, In (4/4/05), Williams College (3/7/06), Elizabethtown Col, PA, 3/20/06), Muhlenburg College, PA, (3/24/06), Univ of Mary Washington (3/30/06), Drew Univ (4/4/06), Univ of Wisconson-La Crosse (4/18/06), Sam Houston State U (3/26/07), Univ of Texas-Austin (3/29/07), Georgia Col & State Univ (4/1/07), E Connecticut State Univ (4/18/07)
The complete set of four music and video compositions is available on a SYMPHONY OF SEASONS DVD, available through MLC Publications, 55 Coon Brook Rd., Petersburgh, NY 12138 (email@example.com).
JEWELS OF JANUARY
THE EYE OF SPRING