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Drum Labs: Rhythm In Nature Upcoming Book Release and Live Events

Art Design of Rhythm in Nature by Hisham Akira Bharoocha.

Photo of the Desert by Jake Landau.

Portrait photo by Tessa Fuqua

March 16th, 2023

I'm wishing everybody a wonderful upcoming Spring Equinox / first day of Spring. Earlier this year I launched a new online course, Drum Labs: Rhythm In Nature. I'm happy to announce that we are a growing community populated with extremely creative, talented, and thoughtful artists from all practices who are connected to nature. From the White Throated Sparrow to the Yellow Breasted Chat to the swinging Barred Owl, we kicked off the course with a Webinar of Bird Songs. The Songsters opened up the course and each day we all enjoyed receiving, listening, and reading the field and studio work of each participant.

Why is it important to listen to these song birds ? Whether we think it's important or not, we've ben listening to them for a long time. Upon listening closer it is apparent that we have been playing, writing, and composing with these Bird song melodies and rhythms in so many contexts. Whether we live in an urban environment, a suburb, or the country, we are lucky to live alongside magical songsters. I could be in my backyard or traveling near or far, each time I listen I have a closer familiarity to these sounds.

I found that listening to nature particularly in the last decade has taught me a lot about my creative practice. I kept coming back to nature in the forests, in the water, in the desert which helped me to understand a balance needed. This need for balance could be heard in the sounds of the earth's geophony, biophony, and anthropophony. After returning again and again from the field, from the stage, from in the studio, I realized that I had developed a daily practice guide to listen to and discover rhythms in the natural world.

With this course I am also releasing a narrative book, Rhythm In Nature. In the book I write about my personal experience in urban cities, countryside, and wilderness and listening to an ecology of rhythm. I share a practical daily guide to discover rhythms in birdsongs, glacial freshwater, oceans, deserts, canyons and resonance, forests and insects.

You might wonder; why would you be interested or care about, or why is it important to listen to these things and to hear an ecology of rhythm ? Well, like listening to anything, listening can be an amazing tool. The creative practice of each artist can also be an amazing tool. As I recently read in Carl Safina's terrific book Becoming Wild, we are only just getting started in recognizing and learning about the cultural diversity that makes up biodiversity. When we listen closely to these things , we can start to train our hear to hear a lot more. When you listen to a songbird there can be many dialects of just one bird. Depending on where that bird lives, that dialect is going to change based on their environment. We humans have a lot to do with the makeup of that environment for songbirds. Some of their songs may shorten and they may even erase.

I remember my first time being on a path to a glacier at Easton Glacier in Washington State. I could hear the pitches of the pebbles as the water ran through the river. My collaborator, Glaciologist, Dr. Michele Koppes shared that it's possible to know what happened to the land in that space, if it had eroded, had a landslide, if it had shifted and taken a turn in the tributary, from the change in the pitches. I would listen and hear it as song, like a river singing its change. The clues are always there for us to find.

Another poignant moment was walking the Drâa Valley Riverbed with the Joudour Sahara Community in M'Hamid El Ghizlane, Morocco. This riverbed is completely dried up and filled with stones on the sand. It tells a story of the route of the river that once existed there for farming communities. As we walk out to that riverbed, what are we recording, if not the water ? Much to my amazement I see the group of girls who have been given recorders, recording the sounds of the cultural diversity of the desert.

What is the shape of that sound ? What does it look like ? Where is it placed and what is its context in that place on a map ? What does it sound like and how do you notate it ? Importantly, what is the impact on my life and others by taking on a listening and musical practice with the natural world ?

I'm happy to announce the subscription course is up and you can read about it and subscribe by clicking here.

I'm happy to also announce you can preorder the accompanying Rhythm In Nature book by clicking here.

On April 28th with the Imaginator Academy at the City Summit of the Americas and in collaboration with Earth Creativity Summit, I will give my first public talk on Rhythm In Nature and share the upcoming release of the book.

In this growing community of Rhythm In Nature we have all kinds of artistic practitioners and we have also of course performers. I will be leading 2 live events this Spring and Summer in which Rhythm In Nature Ensemble Members will be participating.

May 3rd and 4th, 2023, I am performing a new work titled 'Four Meditations in Impermanence.' This piece is inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh's quote:

'Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.'

In Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, Rhythm In Nature Ensemble will be performing amongst the Arboretum at dusk with the birds, leading the audience in a procession to the catacombs where I will play these four meditations. This procession and performance will happen twice each night.

In the middle of Green-Wood lies a cavernous underground space rarely open to the public. The Catacombs is not just a place of rest for the departed, it is also the setting for New York City’s most distinctive and atmospheric musical experience.

Our 2023 Concert in the Catacombs series is curated by acclaimed experimental singer and songwriter Gelsey Bell. Hailed by The New York Times as “one of New York’s most adventurous musicians,” Bell brings together performers from a diverse range of styles, backgrounds, and influences.

Composer, percussionist, and sound artist Susie Ibarra presents 4 Meditations on Impermanence featuring a processional with Rhythm in Nature Ensemble. Ibarra will perform four solo pieces in the Catacombs, which meditate on the rhythms of forests. Her interdisciplinary practice spans across performance, sound-mapping mobile apps, multi-channel audio installations, recording, and documentary. Many of her projects are based on cultural- and environmental preservation.

Watch for dates as I'll be hosting the 1st ever Rhythm In Nature Residency with Community Day Events and conducting a multi-percussive ensemble premiere of 'Four Meditations on Impermanence' at P.S. 21 Performances Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, NY this Summer in July, 2023. Please watch for details, dates, and logistics!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, abundant, and blessed Spring,

Susie Ibarra

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