I created Mockingbird : Requiem for Alice using Protools and a handful of audio samples: an out-of-tune piano, a few lines of poetry. The sounds were imported, then manipulated and ordered again in an album of 15 tracks using the program in a process that is reflective of both composition and sound sculpture.
While composing the Requiem, my paternal grandmother and our family matriarch, Norma Ellen Sims (b. 1921), died. And a few weeks later, I watched Alice, the matriarch of my feline family, die after being hit by a speeding car in front of my home. For several years prior to these events, I had been inspired to create multi-dimensional portraits of the sonic environment of and around my Inman Park/Little 5 Points bungalow, particularly the peculiar mix of animal, insect, and human sounds in a densely populated, though quite green urban Atlanta neighborhood. Sirens, cars, horns, pedestrians, distant music from clubs and restaurants in counterpoint to a teeming world of sounds cascading from towering pecans and oaks and the understory of American Redbuds and Dogwoods, and emanating from nearby gardens, tall grass, ponds, and creeks. During the period, I was also particularly focused on studying, understanding, and responding to the impressively acute aural skills of cats, particularly their awareness of and apparent capacity to track every sound in our shared environment.
Continuing to work after the deaths, I began to hear and understand the vibrating sound world of my home and neighborhood as a song, an homage, a powerful testimony of the capacity for life to forge ahead, for progeny to carry life forward despite danger, individual death, profound loss, and (because of the coincidence of matriarch's passing), the intermingling of and experiences common to all life. In the music of my environs I discovered a requiem for the souls of the departed and those who remained.
Mockingbird : Requiem for Alice is a little more than an hour in duration and is ideally experienced as a multi-dimensional installation or live remix that completely envelops the listener. Approaching it with patience in a more or less meditative state yields the best results. Video, visualizers, dancers, serve well as added visual components. A flattened version is presented online here for private reflection and enjoyment. Mockingbird : Requiem for Alice is (potentially) available for multi-dimensional installation upon request.
The composer kindly requests acknowledgment and fees if the work or segments of it are used in performance, video, or any other format, especially in circumstances of monetary exchange.