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Arctic Soundscapes
Arctic Sounds: Listening to the Far North

All through the year, arctic sound ambiences are remarkable, for the clarity of the sounds and the counterpoint between sky and land activities and changes. Every place one visits is different. The sounds of the arctic are the indigenous calls and voices of the far north. The melting of ice and snow; the flapping and galloping; the solitary within the herd and the herd itself. Charlie Morrow has been collecting and re-creating the sounds of this unique latitude and multiplicitous longitudes.

The Arctic: A Series of Convergences
Notes from Charlie Morrow

"My interest in the arctic grew from work with chanting music and with designing and producing public art events and broadcasts celebrating the sun, especially the New Wilderness Foundation summer solstice festivals and broadcasts. In the 1960s, I built my first sound recording studio in which my first projects were Jerome Rothenberg's total translations of Navajo Horse Songs and recordings of my own personal chants, like Evening Star. I was inspired by ecstatic and functional music I had studied in Columbia University as Willard Rhodes's student in ethnomusicology

"My Dream Singing involves falling into a waking dream state while singing, and then reporting the waking dream through verbal description after the song. It is sonically related to yodeling and Sami yoiking in that it sweeps sound across the break in the vocal registers. Also related to meditation and visualization, it is his own personal practice, developed more than twenty five years ago. It is inspired by shaman spirit journeys and trance singing as done in the north. "

The following .mp3 links are examples of arctic sounds collected or spun by Charlie Morrow over his three decades of explorations into the wondrous sounds of the polar regions. Click on a sound below to hear with RealPlayer.

To get the RealPlayer plugin, click here.

Charlie's Pieces with Arctic and Native Sources

Recorded Sounds:  
ambient paddling
arctic geese ptarmagan
bear radio
cavernous ice reindeer
corvus snow mobile
frame drum stream
frozen tribal loop 1
hard wind tribal loop 2
ice breaking wind
loons wolves
ice crack  
Spun Sounds:
Dream Chant
Evening Star Chant (6 voices)
George Johnston-Tlingit
Night Ambience-Circles
Ptarmigan's Psalm
Song of the Wind
Shaman's Journey
Trance - Arctic II
Voices 1
Voices 2
Voices 3
Voices 4
Voices 5

Project Descriptions:

Spirit Voices
Performance work for solo voice, musical saw, trombone, tuba chorus, sound environment
Air, earth and water spirit journeys based on Altaic shamanic tradition
Charlie Morrow, composer, sound collage, solo voice


WDR West German Radio, Studio of Acoustic Art
Charlie Morrow, writer, director, sound artist
Klaus Schoening, exec producer

Arctic II Crystal Clear

WDR West German Radio, Studio of Acoustic Art
Charlie Morrow, writer, director, sound artist
Klaus Schoening, exec producer

Shaman's Journey North

WDR West German Radio, Studio of Acoustic Art
Charlie Morrow, writer, director, sound artist
Klaus Schoening, exec producer
Performers: Asa Simma Charles, Norman Charles, Charlie Morrow

Between Night and Day - first feature film in the Sami language,
video clip written and directed by Paul-Anders Simma
Music and sound by Charlie Morrow

New Wilderness TV Solstice Broadcast - Lapland segment
video clip written, directed by Paul-Anders Simma
with Asa Simma Charles, segment host
Charlie Morrow executive producer, co-host

Circumpolar Radio Greeting of Spring - radio work for Copenhagen 96
audio clip cultural capitol of Europe.
Charlie Morrow, executive producer, co-host with Asa Simma Charles

Arktis-Antarktis Frozen Sound
Interactive arctic sound storeroom
Visit Charlie Morrow pages at KAH State Museum, Bonn, Germany, which include Arctic sound samples including cracking ice.
Stefan Andreae, curator

"The Vikings" Viking Saga
Voice 1
Voice 2
Voice 3
Voice 4
Voice 5

Smithsonian Institution, Arctic Studies Center

Arctic Radio Interview with Charlie Morrow
"Alarums and Excursions"by Scott Westerfield (transcription, PDF)

Circumpolar Listen Posts
New project for interactive listening places
Concept drawings around the polar region.

History of Recordings with Native Participants

Charlie Morrow has a long history as a media collaborator and soundtrack maker with native directors. The responsibility to the elders of each tribe in making a media work is quite different from the very independent making of media outside the tribal world.

New Wilderness TV Solstice promo video

Poet Jerome Rothenberg and Morrow created the New Wilderness Foundation with cross cultural events, broadcasts and recording. Through author Richard Erdoes, relationships were built with the American Indian Community House and Spider Woman Theater Company, which was formed in an New Wilderness event. Morrow sound recording and performance designs with media link embodied THE NEW WILDERNESS aesthetic of the new/old, new technologies with old sources.

The New Wilderness Audiographics tapes, produced by Morrow with Fiore in the 70s included a mix of experimental voice work and poetry, along with new recordings of the Lakota Sioux Crowdogs arranged by Richard Erdoes. And the Richard Schechner and Joan MacIntosh NEW GUINEA TAPES. New Wilderness Letter, poetry magazine, edited by Jerome Rothenberg, was a continuation of ALCHERINGA, magazine of ethnopoetic edited by Rothenberg and Tedlock.

Morrow participated with Paul-Anders Simma in the Pincher Creek (Canada) Aboriginal Film Festival. Media makers from tribes around the world attended and showed their works. There Morrow met Canadian film maker Carol Geddes.

Picturing A People: George Johnston

a documentary film directed by Carol Geddes (1999)
music and sound by Charlie Morrow
produced by the National Film Board of Canada

A filmed portrait of George Johnston, who made a remarkable photographic record of his people during the first half of the twentieth century, is done by a filmmaker from the same inland Tlingit village in Canada.
Native Networks

Touch the Earth
produced by T.C. McLuhan and Morrow
A Native American cast performs classic and contemporary Native American texts
Night Ambience-Circles

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