Ice Play

It started as a chore and quickly became a game. We have a magnolia tree in our yard. Five years old, maybe. Anyway, in the recent ice storm the broad leaves really piled up with ice, making the limbs droop in a scary way. My job was to go and pat the limbs with a broom before the melting ice re-froze, and in case more ice was on the way. The sound of the ice cracking and falling off was very musical and beautiful. I started recording.

Around the yard I went. The huckleberry hedge, the Pacific wax-myrtles, the leafless wisteria vines, the crusted-over lawn, and even the trampoline all made intriguing sounds when poked, patted and prodded at with an old broom. For the grand finale I shoveled and swept the ice off the trampoline. A one-take!

Next, I played some music alongside, as I do. My instrument palette here featured a Pianet electric piano, an unplugged Wurlitzer electric piano, A wobbly, fractalized Wurlitzer EP (electric piano, again) as well as clarinet, string and synth pads. It all came together with a really nice sense of curiosity and tenderness.

Of course there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so the high frequency bursts of crackling ice needed to be reigned in. The soundscape plays out in real time just like it was recorded, but high pass and low pass filters play chutes and ladders all the way through, allowing the ice sounds to play a supportive textural and rhythmic role. Voila, Ice Play!

Now then, I could just put it up here for all the world but, I did that just a week ago with The Snowy Daywhich is similar in some respects. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to ask you to consider becoming a premium subscriber. For less than 3 bucks a month, premium subscribers can expect a bunch of exclusive cool audio (like this) and storytelling every month.

So, I guess this is my soft start. As I write this, it has an audience of one. I hadn’t planned on soliciting for premium subscribers in the near future, but one made a pledge out of the blue and, well, broke the ice.

Ice Play is a 19 minute composition, the likes of which you’ve probably never heard.

Visit my Substack to listen to a preview or subscribe.