Cricket Voice (1987)

for 2-channel audio
Premiere: June 1987 Community Arts Council Vancouver BC Canada

Length: 10:55

Cricket Voice is a musical exploration of a cricket, whose song I recorded in the stillness of a Mexican desert region called the "Zone of Silence". The quiet of the desert allowed for such acoustic clarity that this cricket's night song - sung coincidentally very near my microphone - became the ideal "sound object" for this tape composition. Slowed down, it sounds like the heartbeat of the desert, in its original speed it sings of the stars.

The quiet of the desert also encouraged soundmaking. The percussive sounds in Cricket Voice were created by "playing" on desert plants: on the spikes of various cacti, on dried up roots and palm leaves, and by exploring the resonances in the ruins of an old water reservoir.

Cricket Voice was completed with the financial assistance of the Canada Council. The composition is dedicated to Norbert Ruebsaat, who wrote:

My Image

It's hard to be a night in the desert
without the crickets.
You make it with stars.
You make it with the skin
of the desert night.
You stitch those two together
sky and earth.
You find it with your cricket voice.

My Image

Photos by Norbert Reubsaat.

With deep gratitude to the late Andra McCartney and her unrelenting, intelligent and heartfelt support of my work, I would like to share her words about Cricket Voice with you here. With her extraordinary listening and her ways of interpreting what she heard, she not only caused my compositional work to reach the ears of many others but she also encouraged me - through her astute questioning in our many conversations and exchanges - to believe in what I was doing.

"In the winter of 1989, on Peterborough's community radio station, Trent Radio, I heard Hildegard Westerkamp's Cricket Voice. I was transported into a world in which the song of a single cricket reverberated and resonated in a way that I had never heard before, in an expansive place. Moreover, I felt urged to compose. It was an odd sensation. I had grown up listening to and playing a wide variety of music, and had always been drawn to electroacoustic music (even though initially I didn't call it that) since first hearing it in England at a very early age. 1. I had heard the work of, at least, hundreds of composers, and had never felt drawn to compose before. Yet now a powerful desire to record sounds and work with them on tape caused me to go out, rent equipment, and begin.”