“Paisajes Audibles” (”Audible Landscapes”) was composed on commission from Meet The Composer Commissioning Music USA for Other Minds Festival 9. The work is a kind of song-cycle fantasy celebrating various landscapes, both physical and imagined, both natural and cultural, of Lanzarote, easternmost of the Canary Islands. I was inspired to make this work not only as a personal manifestation of my affection for Lanzarote, which I have now visited three times, but also in response to two other sources: the evocative work of painter/photographer/installation artist Ildefonso Aguilar, Founder and Director of the Visual Music Festival of Lanzarote and whose recent series of paintings, “Paisajes Audibles”, provides my title; and the poetry and prose of several writers, including Plato, Lorca and Agustín Espinosa, who have examined ideas of landscape and the humans who are shaped by it and shape it in turn.
My work for the past twenty-five years has centered on the bowed piano, a medium primarily of my own devising but influenced also by the discoveries of other experimentalists such as Henry Cowell, John Cage, and Curtis Curtis-Smith. Most of the sounds are made by ten players directly on the strings of the open grand piano using a variety of materials and tools; among these are nylon fishline, rubber tape, horsehair, guitar picks and fingernails, piano hammers, percussion mallets and specially designed piano mutes. The music also owes a huge stylistic debt to the thinking of American pioneers Terry Riley and Steve Reich, as well as to various world music, especially West African music, jazz and flamenco.
“Paisajes Audibles” is my first major work to integrate the human voice with the Bowed Piano Ensemble. The texts sung and spoken by the soprano (and occasionally by the players) are in English, Spanish and French.
A short, in-progress version of “Paisajes Audibles” was introduced in March of 2002 by Ms. Hansen and the Ensemble in Berlin, Prague and Sofia; in October 2002 we gave the first performance of the complete work in its "natural habitat," Lanzarote. The piece is dedicated to Ilfefonso Aguilar and Charles Amirkhanian, two of contemporary music's most visionary presenters; Aguilar's work has given life to Harry Partch's dictum that "the eye explains to the ear and the ear fulfills the vision;" and Amirkhanian has for decades been teaching Americans, musicians and listeners alike, much of what we need to know about our own new music and about each other. "Stephen Scott