Waiting for the flying squirrels
We’re off to Borneo, Indonesia today for an encounter with flying squirrels, courtesy of this recording by John Roach, who describes the recording like this:
“This is a recording in the early evening at Danum Valley in Sabah in Borneo – Danum is a relatively undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest.
“The recorder (a Zoom H2n) was left by the edge of the road as we waited at some distance for the appearance of the flying squirrels. The loud sounds at the beginning are the Rhinoceros Hornbills flying by.
“Our guide informed us that as the sun went down, the squirrels would appear shortly after the cicadas started to call. He was correct, and what I have edited out of this recording is the very human chorus of “aahhhhhhhhhh!” as the squirrels sail from one tree to the next.”
The reimagined sound was taken on by June Lopez, who writes:
“I was inspired by the title “waiting for the flying squirrels”. I listen to the recordings several times, observing the sounds with my eyes closed, and I felt like I was there.
“As a kid, I would frequently visited Kerhonkson, New York – Catskill Mountains at Peg Legs Country Club where I would see flying squirrels at night – at first I thought they were bats.
“I was just a city kid who wasn’t exposed to the country life, led along the forest and beautiful mountains at first. Of course that led to more visits and path the way to explore more of the forest.
“Onto the process: My approach and process was simple – I wanted to acknowledge the presence of the animals, leave the recordings untouched to preserve the sound and create a melodic rhythmic groove that set the mood.
“I felt that it was necessary to allow the listener to hear how the composition came to light from just listening to John Roach’s recording along with my composition. I wanted to build sound and utilize the textures that were already there and create a bed of sounds that would compliment the movements in the forest.
“I carefully chose sounds that wouldn’t get in the way of the soundscape and played a solo with my harp synthesiser. I also utilized a push and pull concept that is generally used by painters and performing artist alike.
“I wanted to use anything in my surroundings as instruments to shape the sound and colors to help me create these imaginable movements and performance.
“I used the following instruments along with Ableton Live – a drumstick, shakers, wood blocks pitched up, banging on the door, a ping pong paddle, an empty plastic GAP bag I had laying in my closet, wooded shells, and my latin percussion – conga. I just wanted composed an ambient soundscape to show my love and appreciation for these amazing flying creatures.”