Crow Stone Tone Poem

Crow Stone Tone Poem, 2016, 02:08
In collaboration with Simon Lysander Overstall, and a crow

This tone poem is based on a collaboration with a free-living neighborhood crow where we each took turns to create stone arrangements as play. The stone-play arrangements are the basis for the score to which recorded crow calls and theremin responses are performed.

The project was inspired by my interactions with a neighborhood crow who gifted a small stone in appreciation for a dependable water source. I responded to the crow’s stone gift, with an additional stone. He responded by rearranging these stones. This play was elaborated, with each of us adding to and adapting the stone arrangements over the course of a few weeks. The stone-play event and subsequent sonic processes involved exploring what it means to play with a crow.

There were a total of 10 arrangements generated using 6 stones. The stone arrangements were examined for their potential as a score. We experimented with ways to sonify the arrangements, and to signify them as the result of interspecies play. To do this, we  did some field recordings of the crows and selected crow calls in the recordings. Each stone used in the stone-play was assigned a crow call, like a word, to “call” it. These calls were then arranged in sequence over time based on the stone arrangements by the crow—the spaces between stones, and their relationship to each other informed the composition. Using a theremin, I played a response to each crow called stone arrangement. My responses were based on my own arrangements in the stone-play. I also used methods of attentive listening and biomimicry in relation to the crow calls. The arranged crow calls and theremin responses were then processed using computational techniques based on the sonic characteristics of the stones used in the play—granite, sandstone, quartz. This process toned the calls and responses with qualities of sound-making through stones. In this way the stones also participated in the sound-making.

Stone arrangements: