A Companion to Slug #10
Frog Peak Newsletter
PEAK PICKS (contents)
* The newsletter formerly known as Have Pig, Want Gun: Larry
* New Frog Peak
* Frog Speak: Texts by David Dunn
and Sarah Lloyd
NEW NAME: A Companion to Slug
Note from the co-director
With this issue of the Frog Peak
e-letter, nee Have Pig, Want Gun, we adopt a new name, again drawing
on new world fauna for our inspiration (and adding a little reference
to fringe new world music for good measure). We'll continue with our
numbering, but we're now "A Companion to Slug," a title
stolen shamelessly from the name of a Shaker song (slug was a Shaker
term for the devil). We're changing the name for a couple of reasons.
First, some of you hated the old one. That's ok. The other is
that around here, we got a little tired of it. That's ok too. We'll
change it from time to time, and are open to suggestions.
Name changes are good excuses for new directions, and old reminders.
In the new directions department, we're doing something slightly
unusual in publishing Sarah Lloyd's writing, as a Frog Peak Guppy, and
excerpting it here, alongside some of David Dunn's writing. Sarah,
coincidentally, is the partner of Frog Peak composer Ron Nagorcka, and
her work as a naturalist is closely connected to his work as a
composer using bird and natural sounds in extraordinary ways. But as
with David's writing (and recent work recording bark beetles, and
activities like that), Sarah's writing seems to cross some lines that
we'd like to begin crossing, if cautiously.
Frog Peak has always been about
music, but it's also been about ecology, the ecology of us. We've
tried to find ways, over the last twenty years, of creating a healthy,
sustainable community in what must be called a hostile
full of predators. We don't think
of experimental composers as invasive species the way the rest of the
world seems to, and I guess Jody and I think of it the way you'd think
of a big organic garden (of which Sarah and Ron's on
Sugarloaf Mountain in Tasmania is
a shining example): insanely difficult to keep going, but it
just has to be worth it. As Sarah writes, in another section of
"Extinction": "The question I am invariably asked by
just about every landowner after a survey is 'did you see anything
rare?' I seldom did of course, which is why rare species are
classified as rare. And while seeing a rare species is always a
thrill, I get just as much pleasure in seeing those species that
should be there -- because increasingly they are not."
That's been the main point of
Frog Peak all these years, to create some kind of permaculture for
kinds of artists who "increasingly are not", or at least for
their works. We haven't cared about fame, or promotion, or money, or
measured in any other way than
existence. Composers and thinkers like David Dunn, who are moving fast
and furiously past the outer-limits of what is typically called art
(or even, in David's case, science) are finding
without a niche, and threatened
by the rapidly increasing deforestation pressures of academia, arts
management, popular culture, and the homogenization of our society. We
believe something is important if and only if a Frog Peak artist
thinks it is. Sometimes we feel like that guy in upstate New York who
keeps a large collection of apple species, most extinct but for in his
orchard. We're dedicated to keeping our orchard healthy, and adding as
many species as we're able to.
As always, we need help. We're
broke, understaffed, overworked, and frazzled. We can use volunteers
for various projects (right now we could use some very competent web
help), as well as sales and contributions. Frog Peak is a
that has struggled along for some 25 years now. We'd like it to go
another 25. To quote Michael Pollan, "eating is a political act,"
and so is music. We encourage all of you to buy local and organic.
NEW FROG PEAK SCORES
* Christian Asplund
Creation. For Carillon.
* Philip Corner
a reservoir of possibilities is formed. For solo or ensemble.
* Charles Dodge
Extensions. For trumpet and tape.
* Daniel Goode
Interpreting. For male speaker, clarinet, cello, trombone, female
voice, percussion and piano.
* Rupert Kettle
Imaginary Variations Nr. 2. For percussion quartet.
* Larry Polansky
tooaytoods 1-11. Piano (and guitar arrangement).
miwakatood. Solo violin and small percussion.
* Paul Schick
Canon. For 13 Sopranos.
Baghdad. For pianos, strings and SATB choir.
For a complete list of new frog peak items, please visit our
designated web page at http://www.frogpeak.org/newitems.html
FROG SPEAK: Texts by Sarah Lloyd and David Dunn
from Extinction, forthcoming frog peak guppy
Islands are biologically fascinating because of their endemic species.
In Tasmania there are far fewer bird species than equivalent areas on
the mainland, but there are an exceptionally high number of endemic
species. 12 land birds are endemic and two, the Orange-bellied Parrot
and the Swift Parrot are breeding endemics. That is, they breed only
in Tasmania, but spend winter on the mainland. A further 27 bird
species in Tasmania are endemic sub-species, including the
Wedge-tailed Eagle, Masked Owl, and Owlet Nightjar. This high level of
endemism, characteristic of island populations, is also found in other
animal groups in Tasmania. At least 1/3 of invertebrates are endemic
and of the vertebrate fauna, 7 of the 18 reptiles and three of the
eleven species of frogs found in Tasmania are found nowhere else in
Tasmania, like so many islands, especially those in the south Pacific
region, has already fared badly as far as bird extinctions are
concerned. On Macquarie Island, two species, the Macquarie Island
Parakeet and the Macquarie Island Rail are extinct as a result of
introduced predators including feral cats and an aggressive New
Zealand hen, the Weka. On King Island and in Tasmania, two endemic
subspecies of the Emu, a smaller bird than its mainland cousin, were
regarded as good food for early settlers and by about 1805 and 1865
respectively had been hunted to extinction. King Island, which is like
a microcosm of Tasmania, has many bird species that are now severely
threatened or extinct.
As well as feral predators, the greatest loss to biodiversity is the
loss and fragmentation of habitat through land clearing.
Before European settlement Tasmania was well covered in a mosaic of
vegetation types including ancient Gondwanan rainforests, eucalypt
forests, grassy woodlands, buttongrass moorlands and sedgelands,
alpine and coastal heaths. Each of these different vegetation types
had its own community of animals.
With the influx of the first Europeans came the clearing of the most
biologically diverse areas of the state. Settlements were established
around the rich environments of rivers and estuaries. Farmers chose
the areas with the richest soils on which to begin their agricultural
pursuits. On these rich soils grew the largest trees supporting the
highest populations of insects, other invertebrates, bird and mammals.
To add insult to injury, Europeans brought with them domesticated
plants and animals which became the basis of agricultural industries,
but which disrupted endemic ecological processes that had continued
for thousands of years.
from Cybernetics, Sound Art and the Sacred, frog peak
Guppy No. 9
There has been what I consider to be a profound change in the world of
music through the emergence of a number of new genres of musical form
and research. Amongst these is a new research area tentatively termed
Bio-musicology that attempts to understand the biological origins of
music. A somewhat older research area that has come to be known as
Acoustic Ecology, aims to understand the integrative role that sound
has in our natural and urban environments. There is the whole genre
called Sound Art that attempts to define acoustically based art forms
that do not arise from a musical paradigm per se, such as text-sound
composition, radio art, gallery type installation sound works,
site-specific sound installations and performances, and soundscape
recording. Tangential to these new forms, but informing them and being
informed by them in essential ways, are two areas of science:
Bioacoustics which studies the sounds made by non-human living
organisms and Scientific Sonification, the aural equivalent to
computer visualization techniques through which streams of data are
made more direct and experiential to researchers and the general
Some commentators have seen the development of these new genres as
directly hostile to traditional musical values, while many sound
artists try to characterize what they do as unrelated to any musical
practice or concern. One thing I hope to allude to in this book is
that these new fields are a logical consequence of an evolution in
musical practice rather than a break with it. If music in anyway
reflects the evolving human condition, than we are probably right on
target. This is what we should expect music to become in the 21st
While my own background and work has been woven through all of these
fields, and I have scattered small contributions amongst most of them,
my work addresses itself to two specific areas of questioning:
1. What does music contribute to our understanding of the question of
mind? How is it structured and where is its locus?
2. What is accomplished by strengthening our aural sense within a
culture that is visually dominant in that most of the metaphors that
we use to construct and describe our experience of the world are based
upon the sense of sight? What is gained or lost by a shift towards an
aural perception of the world?
Frog Peak Music (a composers' collective)
Box 1052, Lebanon, NH 03766 USA
phone/fax: (603) 643-9037
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