Lehmann B Smith
Entry #1


A short week making big plans. Day 1 I arrived just before dusk and we walked up and down and around the dam and town, with the full bloom of its trees and manicured gardens, the empty cabins abandoned and clean, tennis courts covered in leaves and splattered with light from the sun setting out where last year’s landslide created an escarpment of slick clay like terracotta and, motionless above it all, two tractors tiny with arms high in the air. I made notes of things to film around the town and hit the hay.

The next day I set off filming some of the things I’d listed, winding my way down to the dam. The waterline was low to reveal soot-grey banks cracked in the sun and the old stumps of trees, smoothed over by water, solid set into the mud. I did some oohing and ahhing in the dam wall to hear the long reverb trail that turns into a bizarre mess of frequencies as you slide your voice up and down in spooky minor 2nds. I made a note to do some recording here.

Day 3 I took my keyboard down past the power-station, past the tennis courts, over the bridge to the picnic grounds. I sketched out a bunch of music and swam in the white water as long as I could stand it. Some more music work after dinner, further exploring rhythmic friction with simple harmonies, and the opposite, longer notes with more colourful harmonies. After looking over these sketches I was able to get a vague idea of the form for the project as a whole (being a clarinet thing that I’ll start recording next week). Later that night I found a set of stars I’d never seen before which, I looked up, is Pleiades or the “Seven Sisters”. They stood out from other stars in their colour and subtlety, wavering like blue jewels in a dark pool, curled over itself like a squid, or maybe like some blue-hot embers of a distant fire burning out, which I guess they are. It’s strange that both ancient Greece and ancient Aboriginal cultures look at these stars and see them as women escaping predatory men. I can sort of see it. They look so vulnerable against those brighter stars.

The next morning I spent doing some research into how 20th century Australian composers approached writing to their landscape, made some notes of pieces to listen to, and listened to a few. The dam levels had risen by what must be millions of litres, so that you could see the freshly mowed lawn underwater and running down into the dam bed. I made some more sketches, some thinking about the Beethoven pastoral symphony and how he used rhythmic cells to illustrate the infinite repetition of pattern in nature (and now you could write the same for industry too). This sort of idea sketching happened in fits and starts throughout the day and into early hours of the next morning.

This morning a crane was parked near the cabin, with its long arm cherry-picking in the same patch of sky I saw the Seven Sisters. I feel as though I’m moving very slowly and the plans are ballooning, but everything is still possible at this stage, so just holding onto these threads of ideas and will let them pull me when and where they want.