Su-a Lee: RememberedImagined #1

Arrived to a complex array of cables, monitors and electronics. Everything set up and ready to go at the appointed hour! No mean feat for the team!
Today was a first for me, in that I had to bring 4 cellos with me! It involved a van. And the very kind assistance of Robert Mcfall. I had a glimpse of what it must be like firsthand to be a drummer/percussionist travelling with a battery of instruments, often rather large and heavy!
Why four? Naturally, my acoustic. Then a separate acoustic to provide a detuned open fifth “drone”. An electric. But lastly, a rather large box, containing another electric cello that Amble had shipped over from China when she was there last year. We didn’t have time today to release it from it’s long incarceration, but looking forward to tomorrow for that!
Today only involved my main acoustic cello. But it involved a serious amount of engagement from my brain too!
Amble introduced the project to us, which is a fascinating one involving electronics, experimentation, collaboration and inspiration. Each piece a pairing of composer and writer. Inspiration taken from the archives of School Of Scottish Studies. Each day a different collaboration.
We began with Amble’s own piece and collaboration with Angus Peter Campbell, which is based on the recitation of an old tale from the Outer Hebrides taken from the SOSS archives dating from 1977.

Amble had painstakingly notated the whole recitation and shared it amongst the group. A very, very complex process! To notate, as well as perform!
Luckily for Mcfalls, we had a super tech team on hand to enable access to click tracks of a seriously advanced nature! Considering the piece changes time signature rapidly; sometimes almost every bar, imagine a click track which automatically “plays” the piece showing you aurally where each downbeat is!
Thank you Amble! And also Joe Seal, who enabled our preferences as to where we received this information from (main speakers/monitors/headphones).
The click track soon became our “lifeline”, as the narration is extremely rapid, flowing, complex and difficult to coordinate!
I should mention that we were provided with the original narration, with harp on recording. But also a live narration and interspersed translation from Angus Peter, as well as interspersed singing vocals from Maeve. A lot to coordinate!
The tech team; Amble, Joe and Pippa (not to mention a camera man Tom, who was attaching video cameras to our stands!) were happily experimenting with sound effects and timing delays (all extremely efficiently…ie quickly!) during the day. So often, when electronics are involved, there is a lot of sitting around while the techies make adjustments and problem solve. Not so today!
In terms of “accessibility” to the cello part…I was delighted to find it so well notated. There are challenges, but none that are insurmountable! The most challenging was actually the rapid fire pizzicato passages.

A long and challenging day but by the end, a sense of the final product had definitely emerged! It is a very effective work.

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