A re-examination of प्राण (prāṇa, life breath) with Gusty Winds May Exist (husband and wife team of multi-windist / synthesist Tom Bickley & shakuhachi maestra Nancy Beckman), who’ll be coming fresh from recent performances at Crane House in Oakland, Berkeley Arts Festival, The Stone, and the World Shakuhachi Festival in Kyōto (2012 国際尺八フェスティバル).
Gusty Winds May Exist formed at the 1999 Deep Listening Retreat led by Pauline Oliveros. Their initial focus on sonic connections between shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and recorder has expanded, now adding multi-wind timbres extended via acoustic and electronic means to improvise playfully and contemplatively with the world soundscape.
Pianos, laptops, and percussion (my instruments) are possibly the most “un-breath-y” of instruments — so how to breathe with them is a constant kōan, and it’s a perverse source of inspiration to turn to the supple wind instrument techniques of finger-hole tapping, overblowing, puffy honks, note bending, sustained tones, etc., that don’t exist on, say, the piano and say, OK, well, what means the same thing on the piano?
Working with Tom & Nancy has taught me a lot about how to make a piano or laptop breathe, and how to slow down and listen deeply to the sounds of subtle wind instruments to project their analogues into piano or laptop space.
It’s with great pleasure that I join forces with them again in two special acoustic sets at 4pm and 5pm during my regular booking at Viracocha (NW corner of 21st & Valencia, San Francisco).
We’ll draw from influences including the centuries-old standards of the ancient Japanese Myōan shakuhachi repertory (明暗尺八本曲), Pauline Oliveros, John Cage, Gregorian chant and silence as a point of departure for a deep-listening, gently modernist exploration of breath/sound-space and mysterious beauty.
Viracocha is a unique polyvalent zone spread over several levels at the NW corner of 21st & Valencia in San Francisco, that functions as post-modern antique shop, piano lounge / performance space, lending library, gallery, and all-purpose cultural node. It has been my pleasure and honor to play there weekly for the last 1¾ years. (Here’s a lovely article on Viracocha with a picture of me playing from the back)
Warmly hope to see you at this special show!
P.S. More info on Nancy & Tom:
Nancy Beckman creates performance pieces, plays and teaches the shakuhachi and performs with the Cornelius Cardew Choir. Her education includes an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University, a master’s in interarts from SFSU and ordination to teach shakuhachi from Myōan-ji (明暗寺, the famous “Temple of Light & Darkness” of shakuhachi history) in Kyoto.
Tom Bickley (site and samples) composes electro-acoustic music, plays and teaches recorder, performs with Three Trapped Tigers (with recorder players David Barnett and Judy Linsenberg), co-founded and directs the Cornelius Cardew Choir, is a curator emeritus of the Meridian Gallery music series, and is on the Library Faculty (music, philosophy and political science) at CSU East Bay. His education includes degrees in music, theology, and library and information science and the Certificate in Deep Listening.
Nancy and Tom live with their (very cool) cat 大福 (Daifuku) in Berkeley.