Resophonica: Michael Atherton and Bruce Crossman improvisations for piano, prepared-piano, resophonic guitar and percussion (2009)—piano (Steinway C [Hamburg]); prepared-piano (Kawai KG-710); resophonic guitar; 1 percussionist (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks, bass drum, kulintang, vibraphone, bossed metal plates)
Track 1: bunyip blues (6’56’’); piano and percussion (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks, bass drum)
Track 2: resophonica (7’33’’); resophonic guitar and piano
Track 3: tik tik (12’59’’); prepared-piano and piano
Track 4: palimpsest (water dragon) (16’47’’); piano and vibraphone
Track 5: snajo for jylee (12’24’’); piano and percussion (kulintang, bossed metal plates)
Track 6: Pentaphonia (9’31’’); resophonic guitar and piano
Track 7: off-the-rail blues (7’22’’); piano and piano (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks)
total duration: 73’ 27’’
recording available from Wirripang Pty Ltd
Recording: Recording Engineer: Petar Jovanov; Mastering: Michael Macken; Recording: University of Western Sydney, Main Studio/Performance Space, Penrith Campus (Kingswood), Saturday 15 August, 2009; Pianos: Steinway C (Hamburg); Kawai KG-710
In 2006 Atherton and Crossman had a chance encounter at the Riverside Theatres when given an opportunity to combine piano and metallic idiophones in an improvisation to illustrate a point in a composers’ forum. The occasion provided an instant affinity to work creatively together. Since that time they have collaborated on both scholarly and artistic pursuits, but until recently were unable to develop their Riverside conversation due to a myriad other commitments.
Seeking a chance to extend the discoveries of the encounter Atherton and Crossman planned a studio session with a defined sequence of improvised encounters to explore a range of timbral possibilities involving a newly acquired Steinway piano, and a Filipino Kulintang gong set from San Francisco, as well as a prepared Kawai piano, a resophonic guitar (made by Gerard Gilet from Australian timber), and tuned and non-tuned percussion.
The studio was configured with microphone set ups to capture a number of instrumental combinations. The focus was on the playful, the intuitive and the ‘comprovised’. Paintings were hung up in the space, poems were read as sources, and strategies were discussed briefly.
Meanwhile, both musicians were watched over by Miles Davis, high up on a wall poster, looking down, a finger over his lips, as if to say: “Ok, dudes, listen, before you take your turn.” At a deeper level this is one of the keys to improvisation—to listen to what is around you and inside you, contemplating the sounds that exist between the silences.
The session produced over two hours of recorded music. There were no overdubs or edits. The aim was to communicate the raw energy of an acoustic conversation. Seven items were selected for this compilation, to be augmented with titles that captured some of the feeling in the session, and graced by another inspirational Wallace Crossman painting.