Deep Tones For Peace

April 22, 2009
Suzanne Thorpe


Deep Tones for Peace is an international internet music performance, an action for peace in the Middle East, taking place on April 26, 2009. It will be performed live on the internet between internationally recognized bass players located in both Jerusalem and New York for local audiences, and streamed as a world-wide webcast. Deep Tones for Peace is a telepresent event created by a community of bass players that is a harbinger of future interactions. It supports a traditional sense of community via unified intent, and challenges concepts of the singularly geographically located community.

The DTFP ensemble is incorporating the developing technologies of telerpresence to execute their performance. What is telepresence? Telepresence is the practice of employing telematics, or the sending and receiving of information via telecommunication devices, to create the sensation of another’s presence from a different geographic location. The senses of an individual engaging in a telepresent action are sent enough stimuli so as to give the sensation of being affected by or affecting another location. For the April 26 presentation, the DTFP ensemble will be interacting between the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and the Jerusalem Performing Arts Lab in Israel.

Spearheading Deep Tones for Peace are Mark Dresser, Sarah Weaver, William Parker, Jean Claude Jones, Gabriel Lanyi, Barre Phillips and Avi Elbaz. Paracipants include Thierry Barbe (France), Mark Dresser (USA), Shayna Dulberger (USA), Trevor Dunn (USA), Irina-Kalina Goudeva (Bulgaria/Denmark), Henry Grimes (USA), James Ilgenfritz (USA), J.C. Jones (Israel), Michael Klinghoffer (Israel), Chi-chi Nwanoku (UK), William Parker (USA), Barre Phillips (USA/France), David Phillips (USA), Bertram Turetzky (USA), and Sarah Weaver (USA). It may seem odd for a group of acoustic bass players to employ the challenging technology of telepresence, but, most or all being improvising musicians, they are well suited for the tool. Improvisatory communities, in particular, frequently seek opportunities for exchange and methods to maintain relationships. There is an acute awareness within this community of the importance of maintaining dialog and a tendency to engage in musical exchanges that are communicated via what can be termed a network of sensory expressions. Because of this awareness of interactive space it is a natural progression for improvising musicians to adopt the developing field of telepresent music making.

Deep Tones for Peace composers, performers and improvisers

Composer/improviser Mark Dresser had his first telematic exchange in 1997, in a concert between NYC and Los Angeles, CA. Bun Ching Lam and Mark were at the Kitchen, and Bert Turetzky was at the Electronic Cafe in LA. He has been actively incorporating telematics in his work since 2007, after moving from New York City to join the faculty at UCSD. Inspired by a desire to stay connected to his New York City community, and the availability of Internet2, a high-speed broadband internet, Dresser began to engage in telepresenct music making.

Collaborator and composer Sarah Weaver has been working in telepresence for 3 years. When asked how she folds telematics into her work, she replied, “I consider telematics an extension of my work as a composer and conductor for large ensembles. My artistic background is in Soundpainting, the conducted language originated by composer Walter Thompson of over 800 gestures indicating parameters for improvisation, and Deep Listening, the sound practice of composer Pauline Oliveros. Pauline introduced me to the telematic medium, and I immediately sensed new properties in the medium that were relevant to my work. In the past year and a half in my collaboration with Mark Dresser we have developed a compositional form that translates metaphor into specific musical materials, modulated through Soundpainting. The form incorporates properties specific to the telematic medium, and has been developed through telematic collaboration, since he lives in San Diego and I live in New York.”

Dresser emphasizes his use of consumer level tools in his engagement with telematics. Applications such as Skype, Google Talk and are all part of his arsenal of outreach. About any form of chat, he states that, “to my surprise, I find the tempo of chat mode particularly suited to creative problem solving. I like the fact that I don't have to use my voice; that the conversation isn't dominated by the loudest and fastest voice in the room. The combination of text chat also surprised me by its ability to communicate nuance and feeling.”

And how do telematics facilitate the Deep Tones for Peace mission? Dresser observes that, “generally it is the communicative tools of telematics and social networking that have facilitated DTFP. Most of the participants in the project have never met in person. It won't be until our first rehearsal and concert that artists themselves will meet. Many of us have disparate artistic backgrounds as well. It is the idea, the metaphor of Deep Tones for Peace that have generated a common will to do something together that transcends any ‘professional’ instincts.” According to Weaver “the co-location of New York and Jerusalem through telematics allows us to go beyond creating one-way or simultaneous webstreams, to actually create real space, the perception of being in the same 'room', for musicians to perform together for peace. This creates a unique harmony and shared reality that transcends social, political, and geographic boundaries. The deep tone of the bass serves as a fundamental connection and initiation for peace.”

In their mission statement, Deep Tones for Peace declares that, “we sincerely hope that our music (classical, jazz and contemporary), can be received as it is being offered, as a sharing of distinct musical languages and structures that co-exist and are appreciated by all participants.” For Dresser DTFP is “about artistic collaboration propelled by friendship, moving towards community and social activism,” and, when asked how telematics articulates the DTFP message, Weaver states that, “to me, it's ultimately the music that takes place within the telematic medium that articulates the Deep Tones for Peace message. The medium facilitates the music, which articulates the message.”

And so we get to the root of the matter: it’s about the music. The music is the binding factor that empowers this community, wherever it may be, and it is the vehicle through which they broadcast their vital message of peace.

A public webcast viewing and presentation of the event will be hosted at the CUE Art Foundation, 511 West 25th Street, New York, New York. More information can be found at EMF Productions.

A live broadcast is available here.

A full program of the event can be found here.