Acres Without Trees

Acres Without Trees is titled after a poem of the same name by Wayla J. Chambo, who also commissioned the piece. Despite not explicitly using the text, the piece is a direct musical reflection of the themes presented in the poem. The imagery of fire, smoke, and dryness in the first and third stanzas is contrasted with the notions of water and coolness in the second stanza. This dichotomy also parallels the emotional world of the piece: the hopefulness and aspirations of dreams contrast the harsh reality of the urban and artificial environment in which they take place. This finds its musical expression in terms of timbre, space, and form. The spectrum of the flute itself provides a primary means of contrast, ranging from harsh, noisy, and articulate breath sounds to smoother, sweeter, and more resonant pitched sounds. The electronic part further extends this sonic world through the use of physical modeling synthesis based on the flute spectrum.

Acres Without Trees – PDF Score

Acres Without Trees (Los Angeles)

Summer is the burning season here:
the warning that looks almost like a cloud
except – the way it moves is wrong, the colors
dark and livid, air still paper-dry.

It has been months since rain. I need a rock
to crawl beneath. I need a cool green place.
The sun won’t let me go, and I can’t help
the feeling that we really shouldn’t be here,
a city built on miles of stolen water,
paradise of sprinklers and dreams.

Slow smoke bruises the air and raws my throat,
a tight, sick feeling pushing down my chest
as summer burns its way into the autumn,
driving a red road through the silent hills
that cools to grey ash, blackened earth, no snow,
no anchor and no refuge from the night,
the blindness of the earth, the awful stars.

– Wayla J. Chambo


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