In the Cosmos

In the Cosmos – Sept 2016

Voice & Shakuhachi … performed by Anne Norman in a remote cave between Darwin & Alice Springs, Australia.
Based on words spoken by Anne’s father, physicist Peter Norman.

Video by David Matthews.

The following text based on an extract from Annes’ journal …

At daybreak I left my swag and tangled mozzie net to climb the rocky escarpment east of our camp. I was keen to visit the cave I found last year. This year I brought Dave with me to experience this magic place, but he was still asleep, so I scrambled alone for an hour or two. After returning to camp, I was packing up my gear when I spotted my blue foam mat in the distance. Walking across the flat gibber plain, I discovered that a dingo had taken huge bites out of it. It must have flown away from under my pillow in last night’s wild wind… I guess the dingo thought it was a bird or fleeing animal…
My feet were feeling rather punctured from the morning’s scramble through spiky Spinifex, so after breakfast, when Dave joined me in another walk up the spinifex slope to the cave, I cut my mangled mat into shields to tuck over our sandals—much more comfortable. I took my shakuhachi this time, and stayed in my favourite cave practicing. It was U shaped with both entrances facing West.
Meanwhile Dave circumnavigated the mesa investigating the other caves I’d visited at daybreak. I was practicing a new piece I’d composed using words that my dad had said during a conversation a few months earlier. I was enjoying the challenge of including voice and lyrics within a shakuhachi piece – still a new concept for me. When Dave returned, he videoed me playing / singing In the Cosmos,using the colourful rock-face as a backdrop and the pleasant acoustic of the cave to amplify my sound and protect us from the wind.
About In the Cosmos: My father is a physicist who also likes to look at the stars, although these days he’s legally blind, & pretty deaf. Dad tends to take the long view, putting things in the context of the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang. So when I asked him what’s it like, not being able to hear conversations, or read a book, he said nothing for a while. “Did he hear me?”  Then he smiled, & this is what he said:

For most of my existence,
I’ve not followed conversations or read books.
Most of my time I’ve been scattered in the elements of the cosmos.
The time for reading or conversation is only brief…
It’s a peaceful letting go, this time of life.
A preparation.

An expanded arrangement of “Cosmos” for viola, voice and shakuhachi was recorded in December 2016, entitled “For most of my existence.”

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