I spent several days playing the LightFlute on a remote point on Bruny Island in the Southern Ocean in October 2014. It was a remarkable experience.
They call it a Light House… but no-one lives in it. It is a Flute… a long, hollow, resonant vertical flute with windows that look like finger holes – blown by the winds of the roaring forties.
I was practicing “Whispered Shadows” that features my new polyphonic playing style, something I have been working on for a couple of years now. It allows me to add harmonies and also sing lyrics while blowing shakuhachi. It is a new kind of music that I am very excited about, and the response from listeners has been amazing. The idea was born in France in 2012 when I was improvising within the echoey stone walls of a 10th century chapel in the middle of a national park in Provence. I further developed the technique and ideas while staying on Flinders Island in Bass Strait earlier this year. Solitude allows wonderful things to be born.
Last week on Bruny Island, south of Tasmania, several visitors to the National Park came into the lighthouse where I was practicing and exploring the amazingly resonant acoustic. Some simply stood outside listening to the sound of the shakuhachi reverberating from the LightFlute… On one calm day, I stood several metres in front of the open doors of the lighthouse facing out, and discovered something quite remarkable. Playing shakuhachi, my sound traveled back into the LightFlute, reverberating up and down its length and then came booming out from behind me like an amplifier. People a long way from me looked back to see where the sound was coming from. My little vertical flute had activated the enormous LightFlute… awakening the voice of a gentle giant.
I am now on the look out for a LightFlute that is isolated from constant tourist traffic so I can take time to compose and record music inspired by its acoustics and surrounding environment: the sounds of the ocean and birds, and the observation of whales, flora and fauna… I want to write more music in this new style of playing which is so suited to a resonant acoustic.
Ultimately I hope to give a series of LightFlute recitals around the rim of our world’s oceans… a new dream.