Variously described as found music, ambient music, weirdbient music or
noise, the work of Gurdonark is different things to different people,
but his skill lies in his ability to create a mood or a feeling that transports
the listener to an entirely new place. "Tallgrass Canticle"
uses the metaphors of prairie and praise to suggest the inward liberation
of metaphoric endless fields. The term "canticle", a synonym,
among other things, for "hymn", connotes here less a literal
religious song than the sense of life and presence embedded in the fields.
The religion, if that is the term, is in the seas of grass. Where the
casual viewer might find only a landscape of green, the discerning searcher
hears the songs of meadowlarks who nest among the grasses and see the
kestrel's swift descent among the leaping grasshoppers. As one observer
said in the 19th Century:
"Soul melting scenery that was about me! A place where the mind could
think volumes; but the tongue must be silent that would speak, and the
hand palsied that would write. A place where a Divine would confess that
he never had fancied Paradise—where the painter's palette would
lose its beautiful tints—the blood-stirring notes of eloquence would
die in their utterance—and even the soft tones of sweet music would
scarcely preserve a spark to light the soul again that had passed this
I mean the prairie, whose enameled plains that lie beneath me, in distance
soften into sweetness, like an essence; whose thousand velvet covered
hills, (surely never formed by chance, but grouped in one of Nature's
sportive moods)—tossing and leaping down with steep or graceful
declivities to the river's edge, as if to grace its pictured shores, and
make it "a thing to look upon."
Gurdonark lives twenty five miles north of Dallas, in what is termed a
"prairie transition zone", because the woodlands to the east
complete their transition to the prairies to the west in his home area
of Collin County.
Collin County serves as a southern border for the blackland prairie, which
once covered thousands of miles with tallgrass plants, prairie flowers
and wildlife. The ecological disaster which arose from unfettered cultivation
of the soil reduced the prairie to isolated pockets, often a pristine
hayfield left unfurrowed. Fields of bluestem grass supported a panoply
of wildflowers, native birds and small mammals.
This EP does not seek to address the literal prairie, nor the passing
of scenic places and spiritual moments. Instead, the six pieces here seek
to evoke the prairie within--the sprawling wash of inward fields, and
the resonating hymn of presence in eternal life, in its mystery.
The pieces here were all created with software readily available to the
casual computer user. The freeware program Anvil Studio, from http://www.anvilstudio.com,
supplemented by an inexpensive extension to permit VST plug-in synthesizers
to be used with its workings, was used by Gurdonark as the sequencer upon
which most of the compositions here were created. The VST plug-in Crystal,
the wonderful freeware creation of Glenn Olander, is available for free
and served as the voice for "Texas Rat Snake". Gurdonark made
ample use of the much-beloved easy-interface sampler Slicer, from http://www.ixi-software.net
in order to mold and morph the resulting wave forms. The recording
studio programs used here were the reasonably priced Magix Audio Studio
10 and the nearly-free Magix Audio Studio 5, although the works here could
easily have been created on Audacity or other freeware softstudios. Gurdonark
used the freeware program by Ian Shatwell, "Wave Goodbye", http://www.btinternet.com/~irshatwell/WaveGoodbye/intro.html
as a device to convert various wave portions back into MIDI pieces for
further restructuring. Gurdonark lives in gratitude, because, among others,
gifted software developers make freeware accessible to the creation of
a truly sharing culture.
The songs were all composed and performed by Gurdonark, except for "Forgotten
Fields", which is a cover of Verian Thomas' "Forgotten"
from the NSI EP release "Down". Verian provided the general
MIDI setting, and, of course, wrote the melody. Gurdonark reimagined the
song, as released here.
The goal is these pieces is to provide small moments of simple delight.
When Gurdonark stands on a small hill at Park Hill Prairie and looks down
at a field of wildflowers, he sees an expanse of grass and wildflower.
If these pieces give the barest hint of that sense of wonder, then this
canticle shall have served its purpose as an indirect, and wordless, hymn
The songs are:
Fields Of Grass has been downloaded
2744 times Roadrunner has been downloaded
3296 times Texas Rat Snake has been downloaded
2527 times Mexican
Heather has been downloaded
2557 times Mint
Marigold has been downloaded
2653 times Forgotten Fields has been downloaded
Front Cover Photograph by Pfly,
rear cover Photograph by Jeff Fennell both pursuant to Creative Commons