Kjell Samkopf (born 1952) and Floris van Manen (born 1953) met in the late seventies when they both studied at the (late) Institute for Sonology in Dutch city of Utrecht. At the time, they were involved in researching percussion sounds - spectral analysis as a function of time. When they were plotted, the results looked like mountain landscapes. “That looks like Norway”, Kjell would say whenever they plotted a new graph. They have been working together ever since. Twenty years later they made their first walk together in the Norwegian mountains, when Kjell released his CD Mountain Listening. Based on this experience, Floris made the radio documentary I Hear, So I Listen.
For a real mountain experience, you have to stay in the mountains for more than just a few days. 2002, the UNESCO year of the mountains, seemed the appropriate time to do just that. Being in the mountains for longer changes your perception of time. And that changes your perception of music. Which is how the idea of bringing a vibraphone into an open mountain landscape came about.
It turned out to be an exciting experience. Kjell played the vibraphone for hours and hours - day in, day out. He played in, with and against the landscape.
All the music on this CD was made during this stay in the mountains.
Kjell discovered that the instrument sounded completely different in this environment. During the six days, his playing became softer and softer, more and more open. In the same way that the landscape at first seems to be just an endless expanse of stones, but gradually transforms itself into an image full of infinite detail and variation the longer and closer you look at it, so the music reveals itself in the same way. The repetitions never repeat themselves.
Floris made recordings of this (modified) soundscape. Recordings were made in bright daylight, in the dark during the night, in the transition between day and night, in rain, in thunder and in strong wind - more than twelve hours of digital stereo material (24/96). There was no dubbing and all the balancing was done in situ. The sound of the landscape - the soundscape - was to be a central part of the final sound picture. In the same way that a photographer frames his pictures, Floris (as the sonographer) framed the music in different ways, sometimes placing the microphones very close to the vibraphone, sometimes at a distance of 1000 meters or more. In order to capture the sense of time in the mountains, long tracks were recorded. Just like the music itself, recordings should have their own time span. Their dynamics and the rhythmic patterns should counterpoint the music itself.
Back in the Netherlands Floris evaluated and selected the material to compile this CD. An important aspect of the project was to make a juxtaposition of the music/performance and the recording itself. In other words, the act of recording should be considered as an art form in itself. This CD has only one track (one track fits all). The material has not been produced, that is, no filtering or dynamic compression has been applied. The (long) individual tracks have been assembled one after the other, with only their global audio level adjusted. Mix05 was considered stable enough for a first round of external pre-listening. This CD is Mix14.
Music for Large Mountain and Vibraphone is part of the trilogy An Act of Listening.
The other two CDs being:
2. Listening Ahead (music for marimba and town hall)
3. iiwii it is what it is (music for mallets and twilight zone)