Thursday, June 30, 2016

Action Moves People United

By  Lois Herbine

Last month, I recorded a single solo flute track as a contribution to the Action Moves People United project, sponsored by the United Nations, UNESCO.

I played an improvisation realized by pianist Catherine Marie Charlton. Both the flute and piano accompany a poem entitled I Cried by Karelle Wade, which is about war and unity, spoken in the perspective of new parents.

Action Moves People United CD
This project is a CD compiled of poetry and prose tracks, read by spoken word artists and accompanied by musical instrumentation. The central message is world peace through a call to action to promote positive change. Catherine’s improvisation was influenced by the text. The music starts remotely and builds in strength and resolve as the poem first laments the problems in the world and then finds hope in the future. It is read in Cuban/ Spanish by Kenya Autie and in English by Alex Metnick.

My Preparation
Catherine recorded her piano contribution separately and then uploaded her audio file onto a sharing service so I could download both her part and the spoken word file and play through my computer and speaker while I practiced.

As a classical flutist I prefer to read a part instead of improvising it, so Catherine composed the flute solo by recording a separate track, and then I transcribed it using music writing software.
Following the flow of the text, I began the flute softly playing triplets against the piano’s duplets to provide an unsettled feeling. Then as the voice become more confident, so did my flute by getting fuller in sonority then popping the octave while the piano part filled out by adding chords in the left hand. I practiced in the style of an improvisation, sometimes using rubato to pull away from and then rush to sync up with the piano.

Recording Day
I spent an hour at Eastroom recording studio where recording engineer Drew Taurisano placed the piano track through the one sided headphone and recorded my flute playing against it. Using the headphones in this way allows me to hear my part clearly, while fitting it in with piano. This gives me the ability to assess subtle color changes in the sound. After Drew submitted the raw flute file that afternoon, one of our producers, Rupam Sarmah of India, compiled the music tracks and sent the recordings back to the spoken word artists to rerecord, as the music will naturally propel the expression of the voice.

You might be wondering why the producers selected a classical flutist to play an improvisation? One of the plans for the album – and eventual film – is to pair up artists from different genres and around the globe for collaborations that go beyond politics, religion, and borders. Other flutists that will be joining me on this musical journey for peace are new age flutist Wouter Kellerman from South Africa and Powell artist and rocker Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame.

Live Concert and CD Release
The album is available for pre-sale during the Nelson Mandela International Day festivities in Washington, D.C., July 15 through 18, 2016.  As part of this celebration, I will be performing with an African band, Sharon Katz and the Peace Train, and an American Roots artist, Grant Maloy Smith, at the Washington Monument on July 17, 2016.  For concert information, visit Lois Herbine’s blog or events page

Some of the other collaborating artists on this project are Julian Lennon, Kathy Sledge, Annie Haslam, John Wetton, Patrick Moraz, Dan Aykroyd, Tony Levin, Steve Walsh, Ricky Kej, Amy Otley, and Janice Ian. Action Moves People United is produced by Kevin Mackie, Krista Wallhagen, and Rupam Sarmah.