tenor saxophone and electronics
for Jeff Siegfried
The dowser offers a system of decision-making in which there is no demonstrable connection between the process of seeking and the anticipated outcome. A twitching rod, a swinging pendulum indicates, “dig here.” Often those who turn to this ancient practice of magical divination do so not out of a belief that it will work, but that it must. A dry well is a crisis. “Water witching,” as it is known in rural America, is a way of coping with one’s “environment under conditions of uncertainty and anxiety.” The water witch – like the hydrogeologist – is concerned with imagining underground flows of water. The basic materials of water-witching are saxophone multiphonics: fleeting acoustic phenomena that require subtle control of embouchure, fingering, and air-pressure. They are unstable and unpredictable sonorities that float between harmony and timbre. water-witching wanders through this acoustic terrain. Frictions emerge from this “in-between-ness.” Stillness is filled with tension through the hint of something just below the surface. water-witching was written for and in close collaboration with Jeff Siegfried and is dedicated to my mother and the memory of her father.