Mountain Streams (2009)
Electro-Acoustic Music

Robert Morris

Program Notes

Most of Mountain Streams was composed in August 2009 during a residency at the Music, Art and Technology Institute at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The composition, lasting about 17 minutes, was completed at the Eastman Computer Music Studios after I returned from the west coast. The piece is an eight-track computer music composition almost completely based on the sound of streams, creeks, brooks and other bodies of flowing water. In addition to the Zen Koan that opens Mountain Streams (spoken by Jordan Wilson and Abra Bush), two other (Western) texts suggest the spirit of this piece.

There is an inward voice, that in the stream
Sends forth its spirit to the listening ear,
And in a calm content it floweth on,
Like wisdom, welcome with its own respect.
     —from The River by William Ellery Channing, 1818-1901.

In Tibetan meditations on the sound of water, the adept unites the fluidity within his or her body-mind with the waters of external environment...If brought to completion, this form of meditation is replaced by a deep, transparent empathy with the phenomenal world.
     —Ian Baker, The Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place

I am grateful to Paul Coleman who helped me record the water sounds at various locations in greater Rochester, New York, to JoAnn Kucera Morin and Curtis Roads, directors of MAT, to John Liberatore, who recorded the Zen dialogue, and to Geoffrey Pope, who helped me distribute the sounds into eight independently moving steams of sound.