Counting Eskimo Words for Snow

Program note
Not so long ago in history, music would only come to sound when played by musicians – which made a work sound different with every performance. Only with the appearance of recordings we know the luxury of music that we can listen to anywhere, any time. We can control the sound, but we still hear an identical performance of a work set down in advance.

In the generative sound installation Counting Eskimo Words for Snow I make up a set of simple rules as usual, but the route and sound is determined by the rules themselves, on every moment again. The form is not fixed on beforehand. Every layer follows an unpredictable path within a given landscape, in an eternal permutation of possibilities. One could compare it with a Calder mobile, where the same takes place on a visual level.

This all makes Counting Eskimo Words for Snow a hybrid work: the installation unites the portability of a recording with the unpredictability of a living organism. You can listen to Counting Eskimo Words for Snow everywhere via headphones, but every time you listen the music will be different. It's like a place you roam in on your own. The music is unfinished; one can never tell what's going to happen next; one cannot know how, when and if it ever ends. That's what fascinates me.
A fine little refuge in all this festival noise was seen to by Anthony Fiumara, with his ambient sound installation in the Grafisch Atelier. A purifying landscape of sound, based on the hundreds of words that Eskimos employ for the omnipresent snow.
Brabants Dagblad
Stacks Image 729
November Music (2008)
Buy CD
Version for software controlled soundscape (2008)
Version for piano and soundtrack (2017)
More info
Commissioned by November Music
Soundscape version: endless
Piano version: 14'
First performance
November 13, 2008,
November Music festival, Grafisch Atelier Den Bosch
Available for rent/purchase from Deuss Music.