“To see the desert is like peeling the skinoff a landscape” -- Fred Williams
This evocative statement by the great Australian landscape painter Fred Williams was the inspiration for the piece. In White Bone Country, Byrne pares the music back to its bare bones and discovers an inner landscape full of moving shapes carved from time. The enigmatic stillness and vastness of Australia's outback led painters to new ways of distributing forms and surfaces on the canvas. Byrne explores the sonic possibilities of this esthetic heritage, making a sound “canvas” that is no longer a story from beginning to end, or from foreground to background.
Gone are traditional piano and percussion melodies and textures. Instead a sparse and delicate musical world emerges to the ears. In each of the nine pieces, a musical snapshot is captured and sustained through circular melodies and rhythmic processes, giving the listener the impression of going inside the music. Whether it’s a fixed in melody that slowly falls in register (no. 1) or a quiet mysterious repeating incantation (no. 2) or buzzing crotales that build and then die away (no. 3), what is constant throughout White Bone Country is the meditative quality, evoking a magical auditory environment.
The relationship between the piano and percussion also reflects the enigmatic quality of the music: in some pieces (1, 5, 8, and 9), the two instruments fuse in rhythmic unison to create a colorful “super” instrument; in others (4 and 6) they exist on different planes; while the remaining movements are solo pieces.
Duration: 30 minutes
White Bone Country: Nine Musical Landscapes for Piano and Percussion
Part I: Desert Terrain
1. for processed piano and percussion
2. for solo piano
3. for solo crotales
Part II: Desert Life
4. for piano and gongs
5. for piano and bells
6. for piano and knocking
Part III: Desert Weather
7. for solo piano
8. for piano inside and out
9. for piano and crotales and glockenspiel