Dream Net Sound Shaping

To bend twigs, to compose.

The Music of Warren Benson CRI SD433 [1981]. The Dream Net [18' 10"] [Recorded at Eastman School of Music, 1978]. Frederick Hemke, saxophonist. Kronons Quartet, strings.

Notes from the album sleeve

The title, The Dream Net, came to me through the gift of a book from my friend, the composer Alec Wilder. The book was by Sigurd Olson, a naturalist who has written a number of times about canoeing the white-water rivers of North America. The particulars of the title relate to Indians gathering wild rice in Lake Superior and leaving their young children on the shore while they worked in canoes nearby. [There follows a description of the making of a contraption to amuse babies and the stories told to older children about the dream net and its filtering effects.] The fundamental composition problem was that of balancing the timbral distortion and tuning the saxophone multiphonic sonorities with the normal sounds of a string quartet. I attempted to do this through the use of variable vibrato, mixed vibrato speeds in the ensemble, quarter-tone intonations, glissandi, air noises in the saxophone and whispering noises in the strings, which are accomplished by bowing on pieces of paper. It was foremost in my mind that the significant effect of a multiphonic sonority was not necessarily the number of tones produced, but rather the change in timbre that seemed to occur during its production. I attempted to interpolate similar timbral resources in the string writing.
Compare the attention to "timbre" to care in positing the "dream net" so that its rotation yields the utmost "play" of light and shadow.

Note on the term "dream net" versus "dream catcher": in the Olson account as retailed by Benson the net lets the good through and filters out the negative; it doesn't trap.

And so for day 1202