The CD is called "Evocations from the wilderness." It contains 22 pieces of music, making up over one hour of my original instrumental acoustic guitar compositions. My music is inspired by the isolated wilderness of Gwaii Haanas, Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C. The guitar music combines intricate finger picking, evocative lyrical melodies and rhythmic diversity.
I moved to the wilderness about 20 years ago with not much more for a start than a tent, a packsack, an ax and a guitar. Being alone in nature for long periods of time I had to be self reliant in every aspect of life. After several years of exploring the surrounding landscape and many awe-evoking experiences, I was certain that this was where I wanted to settle, where air, water, land and forest meet.
As a craftsman I built my homestead. As a gardener I create a garden to supply food and medicine. As a guide I showed people the beauty of the wilderness of Gwaii Haanas, which is teaming with life. For more then a decade I have taken people to the totem poles at the world heritage site of Ninstints. I also established the Rose Harbour Guesthouse. As a multi instrumentalist I have composed music for most of the instruments I play. I am still active in all of these capacities.
I was surrounded by music from the very beginning. My mother was a music teacher in Germany, where I was born. So it was only natural that I started playing instruments early in life and I never stopped. The only formal training I received was for the first two instruments, recorder and violin.
When I was inspired by an instrument, I wanted to play it too. I taught myself guitar, where it was the finger picking style that originally attracted me; the piano, where I like Bach, Beethoven and Ragtime. On my first visit to Canada I heard a banjo and I fell in love with that banjo sound. I taught myself bluegrass. Finger picking on the banjo has greatly improved my dexterity on the guitar. The violin and the recorder were used now to play celtic melodies. I started composing for the guitar. All styles started to mingle on all instruments. The music I composed in the Canadian wilderness is technically influenced by everything that I played before. From classic to jazz, from folk to ragtime, from celtic to latin, bluegrass to Spanish, all of these forces are at work. My body has something of a memory. That's the backdrop for the process of composing.
In the absence of other human contact, alertness is the key to survival. The senses become keener. Mother nature reveals more of herself. As an alert observer I have witnessed so many of the wonders of the natural world. I have felt humbled in the face of the beauty of earth. I have absorbed it all, like in a deep breath. So when I exhale, or express myself, that's what comes out, all melted together into a feeling. Sound evokes feeling.
The process of composing goes like this:
I am bathing in sound, showering myself. It is not my intellect commanding my hand movement. It is more like my body is doing it on its own. My hands and muscles have a memory. They just play around and sometimes I hear something that feels so good. Then I try to repeat what feels so good. My body keeps playing around, ah, there it was again. I keep playing around till I can do at will what feels so good. This is timeless and anxiety free. There is no concept of time, no concept of thought, no word. The mind, or intellect, is at rest. After I can do it at will again, and again, then, and only then, do I involve him my intellect. He figures out what note, what key, what cord, what beat. That's what I write down. The intellect struggles most with expressing in words "what feels so good" to give it titles. The titles reflect experiences of mine. Don't get hung up in the words, go with the feeling.
So I am playing tunes that got created because it felt so good to me. It never made sense, verbal sense. I hope my music will evoke in you responses from your feeling body without the intellect being involved too much. The overactive mind should have a break.