The sound sources for River Valley Snapshots were recorded by my colleague Andreas Kahre and myself at a number of parks, play areas and natural ravines connected to the North Saskatchewan River and the river valley area of Edmonton (Alberta). These recordings consisted mainly of hydrophone recordings of fish and other underwater noises in the river and in nearby ponds. Both Andreas and myself made several pieces from these recordings which were used in a permanent sound installation called Sound Columns that is open every summer at the entrance way of the outdoor Queen Elizabeth Pool in the Kinsmen Centre in Edmonton.
In River Valley Snapshots I juxtapose underwater sound-making of fish and other creatures from the North Saskatchewan River with sounds occurring above the river or adjacent to it. The rhythmic clatter of the fish in this work appears and disappears amongst the sounds of cars passing in the rain over the metal grills of the Walterdale Bridge and children playing in a water park. The spatialization performance engages the two worlds in a playful dance and brings their environments closer together. The wet nature of this soundscape reveals the peculiar microclimate of the Edmonton river valley, which counters the Canadian prairie stereotype of dry and open landscapes.
River Valley Snapshots was realized in 2011-13 and the concert version premiered on July 18, 2015 at Warbler’s Roost in South River (Lount Township, Ontario, Canada). River Valley Snapshots is a component of Sound Columns, a sound installation co-created with Andreas Kahre for the re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Pool in Kinsmen Park (Edmonton, Alberta) on July 25, 2011, and was commissioned by the Percent for Art program of the Edmonton Arts Council.
This recording was realized in April 2015 at the Sohm Barn on Bunker Hill in Machar Township (Ontario, Canada) using two Holosonics Audio Spotlight loudspeakers — performed by Matthew Miller and the composer — and the NAISA Spatialization System — performed by the composer. Ambisonic recording of the Audio Spotlight loudspeakers performance was done by Hector Centeno. Many thanks to Bob Sohm for the generous use of his barn.