Ambient and New Age Recordings
I absolutely loved working on this project, as I do on all Ron's stuff. The reason? The process is completely different than the 'usual' way of recording. These recordings are completely improvised to a basic set of instructions like the key center and the general order of featured performers. Many takes are performed then the best parts of each take are then combined to make the basic structure of the piece. After that we look for opportunities to add some synth ambiences and the like and look for any good overdub opportunities to amplify the improvised intention of the players. These pieces truly come to life in the computer, with the studio itself being fundamental to the compositional process.
Miles Away was in rotation on the nationally syndicated "Echoes" program for quite a long time.
Janice Sunflower is one amazing musician. Having both classical training and a flair for improvisation give her a set of skills far beyond most people who pick up the native american flute. She is also comfortable playing in a group situation and you can hear her in the Miles Away cut above.
It's easy to get lulled into complacency and think you've done it all when you've been in the business awhile and then a project like this comes along. I had heard of a harmonium before but never seen one, let one recorded one! It was fun to hover around the instrument as Karen played it to discover where the best sound spots are, avoid the noise of the bellows pumping and try and not pick up too much of the vocal that was being sung at the time. It was a real test of microphone technique!
Here is a piece of Indian classical music as performed by Kanniks on his CD. I've been very fortunate to work with Kanniks off and on for decades since his ground breaking "Blue Jewel" choral suite. Virtually everything I know about indian music is from him and Jim Feist the amazing tabla drum player in town. There were a few striking things that I learned about Indian music along the way: there's no melodic harmony, there are no real "key centers" as we know them-everything is in C (or C#), and rhythmic development is very advanced. As Jim explains it, "There's the same amount of energy invested into the development of Indian music as Western music, it's just that the energy is directed towards melodic ornamentation and rhythmic subtlety and complexity."