Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Live on the Radio Dec 8th

Saturday December 8, 1-2 pm Pacific Standard Time
KFJC 89.7 FM

Interview and live on-air performance by Cheryl E. Leonard, featuring works inspired by the Arctic and Antarctica. I'll discuss my musical adventures in the far north and the far south, and perform my compositions Polarnatt, Lullaby for E Seals, and Eolian:Ventifact.

Listen live online at www.kfjc.org

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

LASER Talk & Berkeley Arts Concert

I'll be speaking about my polar music at tonight's Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendevous (aka LASER) at Stanford University. The agenda includes four presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Stanford University, Jordan Hall (Building 420), Room 041

6:45pm-7:00pm Socializing/networking
7:00pm-9:00pm Presentations:
* Stanford author/educator Andrew Todhunter will present an educational program that bridges Biology and Art
* Visual artist  Terry Berlier will use unorthodox sculptures to meditate on the past and future of high technology
* Stanford environmental scientist Mark Jacobson will discuss a plan to power the world with wind, water, and the sun
* Composer Cheryl Leonard will play music made out of sounds from Antarctica and the Arctic
9:00pm-     Discussion, socializing

More details at http://www.scaruffi.com/leonardo/oct2012.html with links to the presenters' websites.
Before or after the break, anyone in the audience currently working within the intersections of art and science will have 30 seconds to share their work.

Past and future LASERs are listed at http://www.scaruffi.com/leonardo


Wednesday October 17, 2012
8 pm, $10 - 20 sliding scale

Berkeley Arts
2133 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA

8 pm: Lisa Sangita Moskow, electric sarod and voice; Guillermo Galindo, Moog synth guitar and computer sounds. A journey into uncharted musical territory, blending modified traditional Eastern and Western instruments with electronics.

9 pm: Cheryl E. Leonard, amplified natural-object instruments and field recordings. Music inspired by polar seasons and ecosystems, sand dunes, and erosion patterns.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Instrument Demo at the SCAR Conference in Portland, OR

I'm in Portland, Oregon this week doing research for my Antarctic music at the SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) Conference. Tomorrow evening I'll be demonstrating some of my Antarctic musical instruments at the Oregon Museum of Science, in conjunction with the conference banquet. If you happen to be attending the banquet stop by and try making some sounds with penguin bones, limpet shells, and rocks from the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctic Instrument Demo
Wednesday July 18, 2012
starting at 6:30pm

Oregon Museum of Science (aka OMSI)
1945 SE Water Ave
Portland, OR

There are also several Antarctic Science-Art Rendevous events happening in Portland this week that all are welcome to attend: http://scar2012.geol.pdx.edu/rendezvous.php Check them out!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Concert Saturday in Alameda, California

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Quiet Music at the Alameda Library
1550 Oak Street
Alameda, California

8 pm Eurostache
9 pm Cheryl E. Leonard

Live video projections by: 
Bill Hsu
Keith Evans
Tim Perkis
Chris & Jessica Gomula-Kruzic

Enter in the back from the library parking lot

This Saturday I'm performing a solo set of music inspired by sand dunes, fire, tectonic plates, wind, falling snow, auroras, and polar night (which Antarctica is in the midst of right now!). I'll be playing stones and shells from the Arctic and Antarctic, sea salt, driftwood, glass and shakuhachi. Field recordings will include brash ice, fire, and sounds from Pyramiden, an abandoned Russian coal-mining settlement in Svalbard.

Eurostache is a San Francisco Bay Area electro-acoustic group that focuses on real-time collaborative experiments in sound. Their music combines custom hand-built and circuit-bent instruments with conventional instruments in unusual ways, and sets aside the traditional constructs of music composition to explore the fringes of sound.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

April Concerts in Fort Collins, Colorado

I'll be performing music from my Antarctic and Arctic projects next month in Fort Collins, Colorado in conjunction with the exhibition Sound Through Barriers. Also performing will be improviser Jeph Jerman, who works with found objects and self-playing sound sculptures. Q&A sessions will follow both concerts.

Monday April 23, 2012
Front Range Community College
Room RP140
Fort Collins, CO
7:30 pm, FREE

Tuesday April 24, 2012
Fort Collins Museum of Art
Lower Level
201 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO
7 pm, FREE

For more details visit: http://soundthroughbarriers.com/va.html

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sounds from Yosemite's Frozen Lakes

This year we've been having a very strange winter in Northern California. It has been extremely dry, and between mid-November and mid-January almost no snow fell up in the mountains. Many roads in the high Sierras remained open long after their normal closing dates, including the Tioga Pass Road, the part of Hwy 120 that crosses the Sierras through Yosemite National Park, running past Tuolumne Meadows and over the 9943' Tioga Pass. In a normal year Tioga Pass Road closes in November and is accessible only to skiers and snowshoers until May or June, but this winter it remained open until January 18th. I was even able to go rock climbing in Tuolumne Meadows during both the New Years and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekends!

New Years Eve at Tenaya Lake

While the lack of snow has been (and as of this writing, still is) a huge disappointment to skiers, it allowed people easy access to the high mountains in the middle of winter and enabled them to enjoy some unique recreational activities and unusual sounds. Lakes and rivers in the high country were frozen, but not buried in snow, and conditions were excellent for ice skating, ice climbing, ice hockey, ice bowling, para-skating and other frosty shenanigans.

When I arrived at Tenaya Lake (at 8150') on New Years Eve day, the lake was covered with people, some fearful and cautious, some exuberant and carefree, but all marveling at the thick layer of ice on its surface.

Scored by fissures, from minuscule to huge, and full of air bubbles, I found the lake ice endlessly fascinating. Seen from high above, giant cracks almost formed regular geometric patterns, while up-close small cracks resembled filigreed gauze, and bubbles modeled microorganisms and formed fantastical arrays of lines and shapes.
Furthermore, as the ice warmed in the late morning sun it made a variety of strange, loud sounds that echoed off the surrounding granite cliffs. Booming, cracking, whomping, thumping, twanging, and zinging all emanated from the lake. Sometimes I was startled and frightened as I felt vibrations directly underneath my boots, while other low bass sounds originated from distant parts of the lake and produced mesmerizing stereo effects.

I returned to Tuolumne Meadows two weeks later on January 13th with proper recording equipment, my friend Valerie Zimmer who works as a geologist in Yosemite (check out her blog), and Katy from the National Park Service's Natural Sounds Program. Val had already been recording frozen lake sounds for several days and reported that noises were happening as the ice warmed in the morning from about 9am until noon, then the lakes were quiet for a few hours in the middle of the day, and later whomping and cracking resumed in the late afternoon while the ice cooled.

Recording Tenaya Lake 1/13/2012 (photo by Valerie Zimmer)

Hoping to avoid noise from people and traffic, we arrived at Tenaya Lake on Friday morning. We chose a location about in the middle of the northern side of the lake, near the Murphy Creek trailhead, and a couple of hundred feet out from shore. Around 9am, just as sunlight started to warm the ice, I began recording. I used condenser microphones to capture the airborne sounds, and Val drilled holes in the ice with a giant drill bit so we could plant hydrophones in the ice itself. Tenaya Lake's ice was 7-8" thick and I found that I got the best sound when the hydrophones were placed about halfway down inside their holes (The holes filled up with water as soon as the drill broke through the bottom of the ice, and then began freezing closed again around the hydrophones).

Hydrophone installation/extrication tools
Hydrophone frozen into a hole in the ice (photo by Valerie Zimmer)

About the sound samples: For maximum enjoyment I recommend listening on high quality headphones or speakers. Since these are somewhat-large .wav files, if you have a slow internet connection it may take a few seconds for the audio to start playing after you click on a link.

Tenaya Lake, January 13, 2012, in the morning:

In the air at 9:35 am
(Senheiser MKH 40 and MKH 3o microphones pointing southwest, Sound Devices 702 recorder)

In the ice at 10:15 am
(2 Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophones embedded in the ice about 75 feet apart, Fostex FR2-LE recorder)

Eventually there was too much extraneous noise coming from cars, ice skaters and sightseers to capture any high-quality audio, so we decided to hike up to Lower Cathedral Lake in the hopes of recording the afternoon ice freeze undisturbed, or at least only interrupted by airplane noise.

Lower Cathedral Lake 1/13/2012
Luckily we were the only people up at Lower Cathedral Lake (9290') that day and, although the lake was relatively quiet when we first arrived, its grumblings grew louder and louder as the afternoon progressed. I set up near the eastern side of the lake, placing one pair of hydrophones nearer the shore (note the high-end crackling from shore ice in the recording), and another pair, plus my open-air mics farther out on the ice, closer to the lake's shady southeast corner.

Lower Cathedral Lake, January 13, 2012 in the afternoon:

In the air at 3:39pm
(Senheiser MKH 40 and MKH 3o microphones pointing south-southwest, Sound Devices 702 recorder)

In the ice far from shore at 3:35pm
(2 Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophones embedded in the ice about 75 feet apart, Fostex FR2-LE recorder)

In the ice nearer the shore at 4:02pm
(2 Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophones embedded in the ice about 75 feet apart, Edirol R44 recorder)

Lower Cathedral Lake and Cathedral Peak 1/13/2012

Two days later friends and I stopped at Tenaya Lake again on our way home. Although it was cold and windy that afternoon there were still quite a few hardy folks out playing on the ice and plenty of cars driving through the area. The lake was booming and fracturing loudly but trying to record in the air seemed completely futile. It was still fun, however, to capture the ice sounds via hydrophones, and lots of curious people skated or slid up to me to have a listen. I was set up several hundred feet out from the northern shore of the lake, underneath the middle of Stately Pleasure Dome.

Tenaya Lake, January 15, 2012, in the afternoon:

In the ice at 4:04pm (not much extraneous noise)
(2 Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophones embedded in the ice about 75 feet apart, Sound Devices 702 recorder)

In the ice at 4:07pm (with wind and ice skating sounds)
(2 Aquarian Audio H2a-XLR hydrophones embedded in the ice about 75 feet apart, Sound Devices 702 recorder)

Tenaya Lake 1/15/2012 (photo by Dan Kocevski)

That's it for now. I hope you enjoy these unique ice sounds, even though they are not from Antarctica!

Audio recordings © 2012 Cheryl E. Leonard. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos by Cheryl E. Leonard, © 2012 Cheryl E. Leonard. All rights reserved.

Update 1/8/19: Music composition made from these sounds now available
I developed a long (21:27!) music composition, Frozen Over, out of my Yosemite frozen lake field recordings, plus sounds from gongs, bells, rocks, and shells. It's included on the album Watershed and is available via Bandcamp as a digital download or on CD. You can also get the piece or the album from iTunes, or CD Baby. Happy listening!

For more lake ice sounds and information check out:

Dan Dugan's field recordings of Dog Lake (also in Tuolumne Meadows) from Jan 17, 2012:

Andreas Bick's posts about dispersion of sound in ice sheets:

Free download of sounds of snow and ice by various artists:

Music made with lake ice sounds:
Chants of Frozen Lakes by Marc Namblard
Fire and Frost Pattern by Andreas Bick

Valerie Zimmer on fun things to do on frozen lakes

Drilling into Lake Vostok

Russian scientists have drilled down to the water of Lake Vostok, which has been sealed away from the outside world for many millions of years. It should be very interesting to see what they find down there!

Complete news story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/world/europe/russian-scientists-bore-into-ancient-antarctic-lake.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

Friday, January 27, 2012

Antarctic Underwater Freeze Ray

Check out this amazing video from the BBC about underwater brinicles that freeze everything they touch!


Friday, January 6, 2012

LASER Artist Talk, Monday Jan 9, 2012

I'll be speaking about my polar music projects, both Antarctic and Arctic, this coming Monday at the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendevous (LASER) in San Francicso. Come by for a fun and interesting evening of presentations and conversations, plus snacks!

Monday January 9, 2012
6:30 - 9 pm

Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER)
The University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
Berman Hall
San Francisco, CA 94117

Admission is free but limited. Please RSVP to p@scaruffi.com

More details and schedule: http://www.leonardo.info/isast/events.html#LASER-Jan12