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Origin Stories : Listening and Sounding along Jurassic Canyons


Processing along a road between two canyons at Whispering Cave , Dinosaur National Monument Park, Utah


All my good wishes and blessings for the New Lunar New Year of the Rabbit 2023 to you all. As we come upon the new lunar year, I‘m filled with many thoughts and emotions. With all of the painful violence of the recent shooting in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay Asian American communities in California, I am sending light and love to AAPI community and family who are definitely feeling this at this moment too. I encourage you all to reach out and see how best to support the communities who have suffered this. I also think about what is with us always and constant, what stays with us amidst difficult events and it is also community, connection, hope, love alongside our grief and sadness. We are in a wilderness that lives with us and invites us to live with it too.


Set amidst the Uinta Mountains on the border of Colorado in Utah, the rock layer of Dinosaur National Monument Park is said to be from the Jurassic Period some 150 million years ago. Dinosaurs and ancient animals were carried here by the river system , which is currently the confluence of the Greene and Yampa Rivers. There are over 800 paleontological sites and one canyon of fossils that make up a Jurassic Wall in the park.


I travelled down to this road between two canyons at Dinosaur National Monument with my sister and artist ,Tessa Fuqua, and director of The TANK, James Paul, last fall. When we came upon this road, I immediately felt inclined to walk out to it and process with my gongs. Sometimes when I see an ancient road, the rituals that I carry, acknowledge the moment and encourage me to listen. In this case it was an encouragement to listen through sounding in the space. We all carry rituals with us from our personal histories. Regardless of where we are in the moment, these rituals of our histories, our ancestries, seem to have a way of finding us in the necessary moments.


It was was windy this day. The sound of the echoes between these canyons was extraordinary with the wind. This road between two canyons clearly became recognizable to my ears as an interesting place to conduct field recordings around resonance.









Two distinct thoughts about field sound came to my immediate attention. The first were the sounds of birds in the trees and vegetation which reminded me of their ancestral connection to dinosaurs. The second thought was how resonant it was to make sound in between those canyons. I asked my sister to play some bamboo while I recorded the slaps sounds across the canyons and the resonance.



Rising high above the canyon and wrapping itself around the bend we heard the sound ricochet along. It was fantastic. I began to set up and play a series of percussion sounds along the the canyons , in the middle of this road.





Photos of Susie Ibarra recording resonance and percussion in Dinosaur National Monument Park by Tessa Fuqua






Settling in sonicly in between two canyon rocks my sounds and my rhythms found their way spatially high above the rocks and drifted to the sides , up into the skies. The distance it travelled felt so spacious, a reminder of how connected we are to the sonic environement and just a small part of it too.


I’ll write more on the developments of these resonant sounds soon. But at this moment I’m taken back to the immediate connection to land and space, and how we constantly are connecting these points of sound from our bodies, in the bodies of other species and then to our longstanding histories of the environment. I hope you can find your space to take time to listen to your environment and perhaps think about the rituals you bring into the day and how it connects you to your community, loved ones, and environment. I’m grateful to listen to a timeless resonance of the Jurassic canyons of Dinosaur National Monument. This week I’ll move from this Jurassic area and return to our modern day species of birds, and how we connect to their sounds intuitively, naturally through melody and rhythm and how some of these rhythms are commonly integral to both movement and musical practices.

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