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Origin Stories: Listening to the Canyons

Echoing Questions

Do you ever wonder why memories from our childhood stay with us a lifetime? They don’t define us but they definitely shape and influence the actions, the habits, the choices, the stories we create, the lives we live, the places we travel and the people we love.

I often think about origins and the stories of these origins, in both sensory experiences of how we personally interact and origins of our cultural experiences with each other, places we live and visit and how this can be an invitation to live much more vividly and aware.

Revealing Thoughts

There are so many lenses that we can look and listen to this. For me I love to look and listen to our environments and our cultures through rhythm.

A Soundpack of Lithophones , 50 million year old river sandstone

While I finish up an exciting sound pack in studio with (field and studio engineer and multi instrumentalist) Jake Landau, Lithophone Resonance, for Splice, I reflect on an incredible artist residency this early September at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely Colorado. ( Stay tuned for upcoming Lithopone Resonance sound pack release on Splice Explores 2023!)

September 2022 Artist Residency at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts

I explored with my sister! and visual artist Tessa Fuqua and director of the TANK James Paul and sound designer Jeremiah Moore , sound ecology through rhythm in 50 million year old river sandstone canyons and Jurassic land of Utah geophysical space and in an unusual and extraordinary resonant TANK in Rangely,southern Colorado. In the sound pack will be built synths and drum sets that Jake and I have created all through original sounds I recorded on field in Fantasy Canyon and also recordings of my performance in the echos of the canyons along Whispering Cave in Dinosaur National Monument Park. These canyons are in the region of the southwest border of Colorado and Utah of the Uinta Mountains , former lake basins Eocene Era 50 million years ago and Jurassic park during the Jurassic Era 150 million years ago, to the river sandstone along the confluences of the Yampa and Green River.

These field explorations have been so valuable to me in learning and expanding my listening practice in studying and creating art through inspiration of original sounds of our environment. Recording on field brings the opportunity to step into a meditative practice of listening to the environment.

I have gratitude in this moment to be in early development and collaboration with the TANK and walk a new meditation opera to be set inside this landscape and created for live performance and TV/Film.

What is inside a name?

Sometimes it is necessary to return to a source , to a beginning, to be able to find our way in the middle and to move forward into the future. For this environmental opera, I am returning inside the poetic line of my personal name, while also returning to my ancestors not only who were humans, but my ancestors of environment.

Chan Meditation Opera

My middle name, Chan, was given to me as my mothers last name by my parents and ancestors. It means to Meditate or the Act of Reflecting. Chan is also a meditation practice and in Sanskrit named Dyana, Vietmamese Thien, and Japanese Zen Buddhism. My last name, Ibarra, is Basque meaning the river that runs between Two Mountains. It is an inspiration for me for the structure of this environmental opera , which can be replicated in many forms afterwards. The Chan Meditation Opera tells sonic stories of the Earth as the Female Buddha, as Mother Nature and her eternal time and space. How have these stories changed over both eras and recent years in the riverbeds, mountains and land that have shaped the home for so many? What are the needs of the conmunities today and where are these riverbeds heading towards?

The opera will draw upon my practice of listening in acoustic ecology to geophysical, biodiverse and human culture, to create a new sonic work grounded in the environment for performance and for film in both the natural and build environment.

Listening to Fantasy Canyon and the Canyons at Dinosaur National Monument

Here are a few moments in short video clips while on the field in Colorado and Utah. The sound pack will have much more detailed sound that you can also utilize , play and record.


Subscribe here to Sound Health Habitat journal to hear and see more and to receive information for pre-order of my book Origin Stories: The Art of Rhythm. Thank you! - Susie

Sound Health Habitat is a cultural studio and journal founded by Susie Ibarra that shares and supports listening health practices, global sound walks, and a study of rhythm in acoustic ecology. These studies and practices are focused on climate and sustainable global music practices.

Fantasy Canyon, Utah Sept 2022 , Playing and Recording Lithophones of River Sandstone from the Eocene Era 50 million years old.

the TANK, second evening recording inside the resonant tank and continuous sound swirling.

the TANK , inside first evening recording session in the resonant tank with a cap of the Apollo space shuttle hanging next to me for resonance.

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