Based in Austin, TX, Leaf Chimes is the free improvisation project formed by Laura Brackney and François Minaux in early 2016. Its current members are Laura Brackney on unprepared piano and keyboard, Bill Colangelo on clarinets and François Minaux on flutes, vocals and as its lyricist. Leaf Chimes merges free-improvisation with loose compositional frameworks. Their music and lyrics take inspiration from world events, human behavior and emotion, and socio-political issues. Leaf Chimes consists of François Minaux on flutes, vocals and lyrics; Bill Colangelo on clarinets; and Laura Brackney on unprepared piano and keyboard. The group divides their efforts between live performance, recording projects, and collaborating with local musicians. In 2016, Leaf Chimes performed as an invited guest ensemble at the New Media Art and Sound Summit presented by the Church of the Friendly Ghost and an event with the Kraken Quartet at the Butterfly Bar in Austin, Texas. In addition to their digital album releases, Leaf Chimes has been developing a long-term musical adaptation of testimonies about America’s Secret War in Laos. We are the Voices from the Plains of Jars is a reaction to a collection of stories and drawings, research into the conflict, and collaboration with living descendants of refugees. Committed to building a strong sense of community, Leaf Chimes often invites guests to join improvisation sessions, and has collaborated with local artists such as Ashley Kraft, Brent Baldwin, and Stinson Seuser. Music available for download @ https://leafchimes.bandcamp.com.
Shine by Leaf Chimes
Music: Brackney, Minaux, Minaux
No stars in the sky tonight,
just the highway far away and this vulgar sun set.
I see the beginning of innocent love in your eyes
but a cloud is often blurring it, fading it.
You turned your face toward the light
and when the light entered your face I lost you.
Behind the clouds shine the stars
and tomorrow they will be gone.
Derrière les nuages brillent les étoiles
et demain, elles auront disparues.
Laura Brackney, keyboard, unprepared piano, toy piano
Bill Colangelo, clarinet, bass clarinet
François Minaux, bass flute, electro-acoustic-glissando flute, flute chime, flute springs, vocals
In everyday life, I think I might like the emotion I see in people more than the person per se. I feed on it. And so we seek those emotions through people we are with. We try to provoke those emotions. We want people to laugh, to cry. We « play » people. Our body is an instrument. We squizz all we can from what life can offers to us and then when our bodies are tired, life retires from us and it moves on.
“Nous apprécions les émotions que l’ont reçoit des gens plus que les gens eux même.”Et donc nous recherchons ces émotions à travers les gens avec qui nous sommes. Nous essayons de provoquer ces émotions. Notre corps est un instrument. On essaie d’extraire tout ce que la vie peux nous offrir et lorsque nos corps sont épuisés, la vie se retire de nous et continue.
Flexible and rigid structures
During our sessions, every aspect of the sound and space is made flexible including temperament as we play detuned instruments in addition to traditionally tuned instruments. I play a Robert Dick glissando headjoint which allows me to find all notes in between a half step. This gives me lots of flexibility and allow me to fit into Laura’s unprepared piano. Laura’s piano is amazing. It is unprepared in the fact that it has not been tuned for a very long time. This way, pitch is very aleatoric which makes for a greater palette of chords and intervals. It is absolutely limitless. Similarly, Laura tunes her thumb piano in a nontraditional way stretching or squeezing the intervals.
Pendant nos sessions, chaque aspects du son et de l’espace tel que le tempérament est rendu flexible car nous jouons des instruments tempérés et non-tempérés. L’ embouchure glissando Robert Dick que je joue me permets de trouver un nombre infini de notes entre les demi tons. Cela me donne une grande souplesse et me permets de me fondre dans la sonorité du piano ”non préparé” de Laura. Son piano est absolument génial. Laura lui a donné ce nom car il n’a pas été accordé depuis très longtemps et elle le joue tel quel. De cette manière, l’accord est très aléatoire ce qui donne une plus grande palette d’accord et d’intervalles. C’est absolument sans limite. Laura fait de même avec son thumb piano ou elle viens étirer ou compresser les intervalles.
I believe that complexity can hides true emotions like any taboo is hidden behind cultural and social walls. I noticed that we sometimes use complexity to avoid exposing our own genuine feelings. That said, I do not reject complex musical structure all-together. In fact, it is the ability to have a flexible structure that brings contrasting sections to a piece. It is the gradual or dramatic change between simple and complex structures that is effective, not the degree of complexity. It is really engaging to build upon a simple idea, make it complex and a pleasure to unravel or destroy it after that!
Je crois que la complexité peux cacher nos émotions authentiques tel que n’importe quel tabou peux être refoulé derrière les murs culturels et sociaux. Je me suis aperçu que parfois l’on utilise la complexité pour éviter d’exposer nos vraies sentiments. Cependant, je ne rejettes pas entièrement les structures musicales complexes pour autant. En fait, c’est la possibilité d’avoir une structure flexible qui permet d’avoir des sections qui se contrastent entre elles. C’est le changement soit progressive ou soudain entre une structure simple et complexe qui est désirable. C’est vraiment prenant de pouvoir construire une section à partir d’une idée simple, de la rendre complexe puis avoir le plaisir de décomposer, de la détruire!
I think of my improvisation in the same way I go on a hike. And I think that I like hiking so much because of that: The experience of discovery of an unknown path. It is exciting because you never know what you may encounter. In fact you know it may well be dramatic, fatefull or dull. That is probably one of the main motivation for going for a hike. The main difference from hiking when I improvise is that I rarely come back from where I started. It is most of the time a one way journey…
Instrumental sections and verses follow each others but they rarely are based on the same material. The melodies, harmonies, textures and orchestration are often different in both instrumental sections and verses. Materials rarely come back either making choruses or re-exposition nonexistent. We are advancing on an unknown path and we probably won’t turn back. On our journey, we might encounter similar vistas, plant species and grounds that we can compare from past experiences but we rarely loop around the same area.
When we are ready to start a new section, I have absolutly no idea where the path in front of us will take me. I sing a note to start a verse and Laura will add a chord and then I add another note. We progress from reacting from each other actions. It is extremely excitting, unpredictible and spontaneous.
Life is noisy
My desire to use simple musical structures comes also from the desire to behave as a less complex natural being. I produce sounds and noises similar to natural sounds such as the winds shacking tree leaves or ocean waves crashing on a stony beach. It feels good to hear those familiar, simple, organic and relaxing sounds and it also feels awfully good to make them! – François Minaux.