‘Ellen Reid Soundwalk’ brings music to Griffith Park hikers

by -18 views

A dust path main as much as the Griffith Park Observatory is alive with sound this afternoon. There’s the regular crunch of sneakers on gravel, the whipping wind within the bushes; there’s a toddler’s distant squealing blended with intermittent trilling from sparrows.

Then there’s the orchestra.

Composer and sound artist Ellen Reid has scored this path fastidiously, geocoding her authentic music to precise places within the park, the place guests can entry it on an app.

The soundtrack to this specific spot on the Fern Dell Path is soothing and mild, with viola and cello strings main the best way alongside a shady, forested patch. Farther up, on the East Observatory Path, a jazzy drum solo kicks in, punctuating every switchback with a thump-ding-and-wire-brush swoosh, heightening anticipation round each nook.

Because the path will get steeper, the jazz riff will get quicker and anxious-sounding. The whining trumpet and indignant drums appear to animate the ragged-edged cliff, burned treetops and bustling cityscape under.

“The setting units the tone for our listening,” Reid says on a current take a look at run of the app. As she reaches the observatory garden on the prime of the trailhead, the music out of the blue opens up and a synth monitor kicks in. “I wished the sound right here to really feel coated in one thing that was very easy and white, just like the structure,” she says. “This simply felt like Griffith Park to me.”

A phone displays the "Ellen Reid Soundwalk" app.

The “Ellen Reid Soundwalk” app has the geocoded musical accompaniment for walks in Griffith Park.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Occasions)

The immersive journey is “Ellen Reid Soundwalk,” a free public artwork challenge mixing music, nature and expertise. It premieres on Thursday, offered by the Middle for the Artwork of Efficiency at UCLA, and shall be accessible by way of 2023. Reid, who gained a 2019 Pulitzer Prize for her debut opera, “prism,” launched the challenge in New York in September, programming her music all through Central Park. The New York Philharmonic carried out a lot of that rating together with Reid’s Soundwalk Ensemble, a group of musicians she assembled from across the U.S. The Younger Individuals’s Refrain of New York Metropolis carried out poetry for that metropolis’s “Soundwalk.”

However right here’s the factor: Central Park and Griffith Park have completely completely different sounds, Reid says. To convey the challenge to Los Angeles, Reid constructed on the “financial institution of sound” she already had, composing a number of new tracks for Griffith Park. She introduced in San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet to carry out alongside along with her Soundwalk Ensemble.

“Central Park is extra grid-like, it holds you extra,” Reid says. “The views in Griffith, the proximity you are feeling to the sky, the expertise is extra expansive. In L.A., we wished one thing that was daring and extra West Coast, tremendous revolutionary.”

A map shows Griffith Park with an "Ellen Reid Soundwalk" key.

A map of “Ellen Reid Soundwalk” in Griffith Park, the place music heard by way of the app varies relying in your location on greater than 20 miles of trails.

(From Ellen Reid)

“Ellen Reid Soundwalk” encompasses over 100 tracks geotagged to greater than 20 miles of trails within the park, with a concentrate on the routes between the observatory and the Hollywood Signal. Reid calls the tracks “cells” — instrumental riffs, of various lengths, meant to be heard solo or layered collectively to kind myriad mixtures, like beads in a kaleidoscope. The cells have begin factors tied to places within the park; some play for as much as 20 minutes, others simply 20 seconds. In order guests transfer by way of the park, they wander into and out of musical cells, like sonic zones. And, relying on the tempo guests preserve, they’ll hear completely different components of a cell at completely different places alongside the stroll. So no two soundwalks, even taken by the identical particular person on the identical route, shall be similar.

“You would possibly solely have 12 beads in a kaleidoscope,” Reid says. “However as you flip it, you see an infinite mixture of shapes.”

“Soundwalk” is supposed to be a “phone-in-pocket” expertise, Reid says, that means as soon as customers activate the app and placed on their headphones, they’re inspired to place away their system and wander for as lengthy or as brief as they’d like, the sonic panorama morphing round them. The music toggles amongst orchestral, jazz and digital. Because the elevation rises, the music would possibly too. At instances it feels meditative, nearly new age-y, curling into the leafy foliage and dense fog of 1 location. Different instances it feels strategically cinematic, the music swelling to fulfill a very dramatic vista. Ambient sounds are an instrument within the combine, as nicely.

“You’re supposed to listen to your footsteps,” Reid says. “The sound ought to work together with the wildlife.”

A woman in headphones and carrying a water bottle walks on a dirt path.

Hikers in Griffith Park can entry “Ellen Reid Soundwalk” by way of a free app on their telephones.

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Occasions)

Reid had been mulling the challenge for years, however when the pandemic hit, she fast-tracked it, shortly recognizing its worth as a COVID-19-era salve: Strolling in nature is therapeutic, as is music. The London-based basis Wellcome supplied funding to construct the app as a part of its worldwide psychological well being program, Mindscapes. Reid composed all of the music in June and July. The musicians recorded their particular person components of their houses in August, then Reid and an audio engineer blended the components collectively.

“Who is aware of what anybody goes by way of proper now,” Reid says of the pandemic. “Individuals in my nuclear household have had COVID; it was horrible. I don’t know what it’s prefer to be a frontline employee or somebody with a lived Black expertise, however I can solely think about the burden of that at this second. The hope is that this challenge creates some house to carry you, wherever you might be.”

Reid, an east Tennessee native, attended the California Institute of the Arts for graduate college. Griffith Park has been been a retreat for her throughout tough instances, whether or not recovering from a breakup, wrestling with a inventive impediment or just decompressing after a efficiency. She hiked in Griffith Park the morning after “prism” premiered in L.A. in 2018.

“It’s been there for me,” Reid says of the park. “It’s helped me by way of issues; it’s clarified issues for me. The discoveries and inspirations which have come from being in that tremendous panorama are infinite.”

Ellen Reid sits on a rock outcropping, holding her phone.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid checks out her “Soundwalk” app in Griffith Park.

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Occasions)

Terrain has lengthy impressed Reid when she composes. She usually thinks about music by way of colours and shapes, even drawing photos at instances. “Area and music are intrinsically related for me as a composer,” she says.

Writing “Soundwalk,” she was impressed by the music of jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington and ambient pioneer Brian Eno. She additionally took cues from L.A. initiatives for which she composed music, together with Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s immersive video stroll by way of Walt Disney Live performance Corridor in 2019, “Thought Experiments in F# Minor,” and Yuval Sharon’s 2015 experimental opera “Hopscotch.”

“The openness of creating a sound set up is central to this work. Somebody can enter and keep for 2 seconds or 25 minutes — you’re not in command of it,” Reid says. “Engaged on these initiatives helped me develop how I considered an viewers. It helped get me prepared to do that.”

Plans are actually within the works to convey “Soundwalk” to at the very least 5 cities throughout the U.S. this yr. Subsequent up: Wolf Lure Nationwide Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va., in April. “Soundwalk” additionally will premiere in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, later this spring. All could be discovered on the app, accessible for obtain.

“Listening to music helps create house to have ideas and feelings,” Reid says, making her means again down the path. “And parks are so magical. There’s one thing that’s bugging you, take a stroll and, hastily, you have got the reply.”

The wind picks up within the bushes as Reid’s orchestral melody flows mellifluously down the hillside, filling the canyon under.

“Parks and concrete nature make house for us to dream,” Reid says, “and to really feel related to every thing round us.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *