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New And Improved Mega-Wall Music






The Nogales Mega-Wall

Back in 2005 when the The Anta Project began to take shape, The Nogales Wall cleaving the sister cities of Nogales, USA and Nogales, Mexico was a prototype for the American border wall building that was yet to come.

It was a slap-dash construction, cobbled together from Vietnam War-era helicopter landing mats running just under three miles. When the wall was completed in 1994, migrants crossing from Mexico into the United States simply walked around it.

And as a result they began dying by the hundreds in the surrounding
Sonoran Desert.

Around 2007 when border wall mania was gripping the nation, a series of new walls uniformly built from industrialized columns of towering metal  poles, cement, slurry and mesh were constructed.

The walls varied in construction depending on the terrain and the sounds they produced when played with a bow or mallet varied as well. Almost universally, the finest sounding wall was the Nogales Wall.

The metal interlocking tines of the landing mats could be bowed, the plates could be percussed and as the sun rose heating the metal, the wall creaked and popped and groaned at dawn, acting as a sprawling resonator for the sounds of life on both sides of the border.

When The Anta Project began, it was always my hope the wall could be transformed from a symbol of fear and loathing into something which would create beauty and communication. 

Over the years through countless hours of practice, I’d developed a variety of techniques specific to playing that wall, in particular the W6 Section.

I’d also brought easily 100 people there over the years to play it, observe it, recite poetry before it, or to simply contemplate the nature of walls.

This month the old Nogales Wall is being replaced with a new industrial wall that is higher, deeper and more formidable seeming than before.

Where the old Nogales Wall was a solid mass of metal, the new wall of towering posts has plenty of spaces between them allowing for Americans to see Mexicans and Mexicans to see Americans.  


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It is my hope that within these spaces lies the antidote to the fears that cause us to build walls to begin with. For the first time in more than a decade, Nogales residents on both sides of the wall will be able to see each other clearly and the commonalities that unite rather than divide.

Sonically, the new wall presents  some exciting challenges as is the case with any new instrument. The pipes are square allowing for corners to be bowed, with plenty of smooth sides for amplification.  The tops also promise to deliver some interesting acoustics during periods of wind or rain. 

And perhaps best of all, the spaces will offer more opportunities for communication via multi-national playing.

On April 1 I had a chance to meet with a small group of traveling artists and educators at The Nogales Wall for a sound walk and playing session.

As it turns out, that April Fool's Day group session will likely be the last one to take place at the old wall.  

Artist
Shawn Skabelund visually captured those last moments nicely and a musique-concrete composition from the day is now available for the listening.


BIKE-CENTRIC INSTRUMENT WORKSHOPS

In other news, I’m fairly excited about a series of bike-centric instrument workshops I’ll be leading at 
BICAS in Tucson (April 30-May 28).

For a couple of years now it has been a dream of mine to get a group of people together and turn them onto ideas for building instruments of original design then turn them loose.

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During 
the MOCA installation which featured repurposed bike part instruments,  I met BICAS arts and outreach coordinator Casey Wollschlaeger who said she was interested in revisiting the idea.

After a few months of planning, chaos and epic
Spinal Tap-esque drama the workshops have finally become reality.

There was a great article in a local pub called Zocalo and The Arizona Daily Star. Since the articles appeared in print, the person who was to teach the electronics portion of the class (amplifiers and such) had to unfortunately drop out due to unforeseen consequences.

The workshops are now a sonicanta venture and focused clearly on building instruments and using them in both performance and composition. The class has also been tailored to be much more “kid friendly” than before and we knocked the fee down by a third to $20. That’s less than $5 per class!

For those interested in participating there is still time to register, but they are filling up fast.  Visit the BICAS site or contact them for more details.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE FACEBOOKED

First the CIA gave us LSD. 

Then the military gave us the Internet.

Now 
social media is being tinkered with to monitor and control the hearts and minds of those who follow such things.

I'm not ready to don my tinfoil hat or begin inspecting my fillings for radio tracking devices, but I have become wary and weary of Facebook and other social media as of late.

Between the bots, the scammers, the marketeers, the government and the posers I've decided to let it go.


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When I announced this decision I was inundated with emails from people who cheered the decision or talked about their struggles to use Facebook for professional purposes only. 

The emails were unexpected and it was wonderful to be in so much good company.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Screw Facebook, Glenn, it's 90% for idiot communication!”

“I think it's for the best, Glenn. In the relationship with Facebook. We are the salable product. It definitely makes for a strange union."

I am actually getting ready to drop Facebook myself. I only log onto it once a month at best anymore.”

“I hear you man..I might need to do that too!”

"wow! i admire that, glenn. bravo."

You can still be my friend on Facebook and you can like my stuff, but from here on out it will be a static site, more a portrait of Dorian Gray than that of Glenn Weyant.

If you were a Facebook friend or are a fan of the service, please do not take this personally and please stay in touch via the usual channels.

I am interested in hearing about you, your projects and all the other stuff.

Interestingly, since dropping Facebook I’ve found the traffic at
www.sonicanta.com has picked up by twenty-five percent of so. Including the usual U.S. Government listeners and watchers. Hmmmm... how about that?

LOTS OF NEW SOUND


 

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In sound news a couple of projects are finally available. Here they are in no particular order:

1. WILDLIFE - A series of improvised and traditionally composed sound conversations recorded in early April, between Kestrel Weyant and myself which explore ideas about listening and options for sonic response.

WILDLIFE is a download-only release featuring old-time folk songs presented in new-time settings, two game pieces and a 30 minute sound exploration for birds, wind, rain, planes and bowed strings.

2.
jimpani kustakwa ka jankwariteecherï - A new release by the Estamos Ensemble
on Edgetone Records and due April 27. 

About six months ago, musician and sound pioneer
Thollem McDonas was in contact about a double-disc set the Estamos Ensemble was putting together and asked if he could include a version of John Cage's 4'33" for the Nogales Border Wall.

Naturally I agreed and the resulting two disc release -  jimpani kustakwa ka jankwariteecherï - does not disappoint.

As Thollem notes in a recent email blast: "The Estamos Ensemble album will be released this month on Edgetone Records.  It's a double disc album with world premieres of pieces written specifically for us by
Pauline Oliveros, Ana Lara, Jorge Torres Saenz, William Parker, Joan Jeanrenaud, Vinny Golia, Nels Cline, Juan Felipe Waller and myself. Plus 5 duo improvisations from our YBCA concert in August and 4'33 seconds at the Nogales Wall by Glenn Weyant."

3. For Japan - Following the devastating tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan a fundraiser was put together by musicians at the website ImprovFriday with100 percent of the proceeds (minus PayPal and Bandcamp charges) going to benefit the Red Cross.  Good listening for a good cause and I was proud to be a part of it.

4. Unreal City Sounding - Last but not least, the basis of a soundtrack for the performance of Unreal City which utilized an abandoned Arizona mining town as an instrument, is available as a download. Some of the tracks are raw. Others are worked and reworked into various compositions.

Verbal reviews of the April 1 Unreal City performance ranged from "violent" to "beautiful." Bottom line : No one who saw or heard it could ignore it. They had to pay attention. They had to think.

And to me, that is what it is all about.


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