Border Trip

A nice presentation of Arizona/Sonora border issues by Robert Neustadt and others. Here's the link and a clip but support UTNE and buy a copy if you can...

Back on the Arizona side of the wall we meet “sound sculptor” Glenn Weyant. Glenn attaches microphones to the steel wall and plays it as a musical instrument. Recording the sound, he later mixes it on a laptop and then uploads the music to his website, Unlike a traditional musical instrument, Weyant explains, there is no correct or wrong technique—everyone can play a wall!

Glenn invites two students to choose implements (spoons, whisks, chopsticks, a cello bow) and asks them to play the wall. They can play what they want, however they want, but he encourages them to listen and to interact with each other musically. He then adds more students, two by two, until we are all playing. Two trucks idle on the dirt road behind us, we have an audience of Border Patrol. On the hill above, a contingent of National Guardsmen dressed in full combat gear, carrying M-16s, stands beneath a camouflaged tent and observe our concert. One waves at me. The music starts chaotically and as we continue to play we begin to communicate. We start to play rhythmic clusters, calling and responding to each other’s phrases. We hit a samba-like groove. “I was beating my frustrations out,” one student tells me. “Everything I had seen today, all of that sadness, I took it out on the wall.” We drive away listening to a recording of Margaret Randall’s poem, “Offended Turf,” blended with Weyant’s wall music on Border Songs, an album of immigration songs and poetry with proceeds going to No More Deaths: “We are taking a chance our vibrations will change these molecules of hate,” intones Randall. The wall growls and grinds and groans—the sound perfectly matches the complex emotions we feel: frustration, anger, and profound sadness. -- UTNE READER MAY-JUNE 2013