Lost in Copenhagen

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Karg-Elert, Caprice #18, Opus 107

Just getting blogging again after wrestling with some nasty technical issues for the past 18 months.. the good news being that most of my urban flute site content was backed up, although it appears some recent posts were lost, including tales of my urban exploring exploits while in Denmark.

On the outskirts of Copenhagen, I had spotted an amazing, abandoned warehouse just off the busy circle road, and finally found a chance to sneak in. The massive interior was fascinating, if rather scary! As I wandered alone once inside, I became captivated by the incredible graffiti adorning the interior walls.. constantly looking over my shoulder, I kept trying to remember what kind of travel insurance I had, in case some of the tag artists dropped by!!

Included in the music I had on hand, I had a copy of Karg-Elert’s 30 Caprices on me. Sigfrid Karg-Elert is one of my all-time fav composers, and once I was warmed up and settled into the space, I decided to brave the rather daunting-looking Caprice #18, the notes of which look pretty black on the page! Despite all the 64th notes, this Adagio really isn’t so bad if you bring out the sustained melodic notes – like a lot of Karg-Elert’s works for flute, this fantastical piece is very well written for the instrument and actually lies so nicely under the fingers.

I fell in love with the spacious acoustic of this desolate warehouse, and the sustained reverberation allowed the ‘vertical’ harmony of the music to bloom and create a decidedly evocative mood, especially accompanied by the waves of highway traffic sounds washing through the space.

Hey, here’s a free download.. scroll down to #18 and you can follow along!

Posted: 8th November 2012
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Tom Thomson’s Secret Hideaway

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Well, after Hurricane Sandy rips through, we may very well be looking at some of this white stuff in Ontario, somewhat prematurely mind you!

On a languid weekday afternoon and as in a dream, three of us trucked north of the city to check out an old haunt of one Canada’s most iconic visual artists. Our slushy highway meditation led us here, to this lovely cabin, sequestered on private property and tucked away in a magical, secluded forest,  just beyond the Grip of Toronto.

Purported to be Tom Thomson’s place to party en route to parts north – either Algonquin Park or Owen Sound – to imagine the young Thomson and his compatriots hanging out in these very woods, this wintery interlude was so welcome and truly inspiring.. think Canada’s Group of Seven meets Narnia – although the place was locked up tight, it was like discovering some incredible time portal, akin to C.S. Lewis’ magic wardrobe!

Yeah, my improv here is somewhat, uh, improverished, but bear in mind that I was standing knee-deep in snow and admittedly absorbed in the way that the sounds of my vintage 8-keyed flute was ricocheting off the surrounding tree trunks…

Looking back on it now, I like to think the nuance and gesture of my flute-playing was like ‘sketching with sound’, perhaps even suggesting the movement of Thomson’s paintbrush over canvas or wood panel; apparently, often short on cash, he even resorted to painting on the wooden slats from flour or orange crates that he had salvaged.

Listen for the chickadee part-way through.. this, together with the husky low register of my wooden flute, are the seminal moments of this short recording, at least imhe!

Posted: 29th October 2012
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Cold War Acoustics!

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Mussorgsky

Welcome toThe Diefenbunker, a throwback to ’50’s-era Cold War mentality, and where worlds collide!

Certainly not the first giant flute I have played in, and hopefully not the last, the sound of my flute echoed all the way back to the 1950’s! Admittedly a card-carrying member of the Get Smart generation, I was intrigued by this eerie and ominous entrance way to this once top-secret Canadian bunker, discreetly buried beneath farmers’ fields just 30 minutes west of Ottawa on the bucolic outskirts of Carp, Ontario.

The acoustics were captivating, though not nearly as disturbing as the 100,000 square foot underground lair that lay beyond…and for those of you who have been waiting patiently for new material on UFP, here’s a thematic bonus track.

Read more about The Diefenbunker here…definitely not for the faint of heart!

 

Posted: 15th July 2012
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Milano Polizia… On the Beat!

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Bach, Allegro

When recording in public spaces, it’s important to keep a wary eye open for friendly cops…out on the beat!

Before finding a morning coffee, I gave this lively Bach Allegro a read-through in the wonderful Galleria shortly before these two helpful Polizia offered me directions to El Duomo. Hey, I was watching out for security and caffeine-deprived, so if my tempo is a little unsteady in places, maybe go easy on me.

First time I’ve been busted for not keeping a steady beat!

Posted: 12th April 2012
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La Poesia di Polizia (Poetry Police)

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Poem, Griffes (Introduction)

It was hard to leave the acoustic playground of Milan’s famous Galleria, so after finding a cafe that was open so early – believe me, something at least as strong as a double espresso was badly needed – I set up to record right under the massive central dome.

Bach had sounded great in the space, but I really wanted to see how the opening of the Paul Griffes’ evocative Poem would behave in the crazy acoustics before I carried on to the big cathedral.

Listen at the end, where these friendly polizia suggest Sunday is not the best time to be playing flute…oops, busted by la poesia di polizia, aka the Poetry Police!

NOTE: Check out the octagonal mosaic pattern in the floor, as mentioned in the previous post.

 

Posted: 11th April 2012
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