*Katie Shlon

Trees Harp and Wind Harps, too * Boulder, CO * Experiments in Public Art * June 2018

Listening to: a performace excerpt from June 30th, 2018

All photos by Lauren Click.

"Trees Harp and Wind Harps, too" is a collection of instruments for listening, meditation, and performance commissioned by the city of Boulder as a part of their "Experiments in Public Art" program. These objects were made in response to and mostly of wood from Ash trees felled in the city's Central Park due to infestation by the Emerald Ash Borer. All other materials were sourced secondhand, with the exclusion of the strings and tuning hardware.

Much like the landscape, these instruments are living and changing. They are tuned by the elements and sometimes sound because of them. While the components of these instruments may be recognized from traditional musical instruments, these are not instruments for music making. The strings may vibrate loudly, clamor, buzz, and pitches may bend. Their sounds resonate against a dense or a hollow body. You may notice that you have to listen very closely to hear the sounds they make. There are other things to be heard in the absence of sound; this involves listening with your eyes, ears, and mind.

My performance of these instruments is led by their environmental collaborators. In this case, the compositions created are dictated by the running creek, wind, and density of the surrounding treescape. Plucking their strings is always either in unison or in competition with the existing environment.

Throughout the last weekend of June, I held a series of performances on the instruments for the public, solo and as a duet with Fiona Small. Sound artist Farrell Lowe was also invited to perform. Flutist, composer and deep listening practicitoner Jane Rigler led sonic meditations and a sound walk throughout the park where the trees had been felled, ending at the installation.