Beyond Category – Episode 20 – Eddie Bond

Eddie Bond makes the unheard sounds of the bridges of Portland audible in his new composition for the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble’s Oregonophony concerts April 13th at Willamette University in Salem, and April 15th at the Fremont Theatre in Portland.

Eddie Bond – Beyond Category – Script Ep 20

[Doug] Hey Beyond Category listeners. Get your thumbs moving and mark your calendars for April 13th, our concert in Salem at Willamette University, and April 15, at the Fremont Theatre in Portland. The Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble is playing new music inspired by the sounds of Oregon, and I want you to be there with us. As always, you can become a member, and you’ll get a free ticket for this series and support us at the same time. More information at pjce.org. Here’s the episode.


[bridge sounds]

[Doug] Welcome to Beyond Category, the podcast of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble. I’m Douglas Detrick, and this is the Hawthorne Bridge.
We’re here to meet Eddie Bond. He’s one of the five composers who is writing new music inspired by the sounds of Oregon for the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble’s Oregonophony concerts April 13th at Willamette University in Salem, and April 15th at the Fremont Theatre in Portland.

[Eddie] I’m Eddie Bond and we’re here at the Hawthorne Bridge.

[Doug] Eddie, and Jim Olsen, Jessika Smith, Andrew Endres, and Sam Hunt all composed new pieces for the PJCE inspired by recorded sounds from Oregon.

[Eddie] Well the piece I’m composing is inspired by bridges of Portland, the Steel Bridge, the Morrison Bridge and the Hawthorne Bridge.

[Doug] Each composer has collected audio from our state and weaved a new piece of music for our 12-member jazz ensemble around it. Eddie’s music is inspired by the sub-audio frequencies that Portland’s bridges produce constantly, but that you can’t hear without some special treatment.

[Eddie] Well it was pretty simple really. I just put a microphone connected to my computer on the bridge deck of the Hawthorne Bridge, and then on the pillars of the Morrison Bridge, and on both levels of the Steel Bridge.

[Doug] The sounds he capture were pretty similar to the ones you’re hearing now, but what he really wanted to capture were the sounds that you can’t actually hear.

[Eddie] It wasn’t until I did some heavy pitch shifting that the lower frequencies came out, which was really the cool thing, you know, that’s under the surface that you can’t hear.

[Doug] “Pitch Shifting” is a process of using audio software to raise or lower the pitch of a recorded sound. So, Eddie took the low rumbling sounds the bridge was producing, and raised them into an audible range. After pitch shifting, the sounds you hear now, turn into this.

[pitch shifted audio]

[Eddie] You know how in the color spectrum we have a certain visible range that we can see? Likewise, with the human ear, there’s a frequency range that we can hear in, but there’s things that exist on either end of that frequency range that you have to kind of dig to find. You have to translate it into the human operating system.

[Doug] That’s the goal of this whole concert. We’re taking the sounds of Oregon—like a bike ride through Eugene, or a waterfall in eastern Oregon—and translating that into a musical operating system. Our state is beautiful to look at, but it’s also beautiful to hear. Eddie explained how he hears a place, with a story about the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.

[Bridge audio returns]

[Eddie] Glenn Gould used to do this thing where he would go to a diner in Canada and just sit. He would pretend he was reading the menu but he would just listen, and the whole collage of sound was what he was listening to, but he would just pick out certain sounds… It’s kind of a similar idea I guess. You hear music everywhere.

[Doug] You hear music everywhere. And at our Oregonophony concerts, you’ll music and the sounds around you in a new way. See you there.
Thanks to Eddie Bond and Torrey Newhart for sharing music from Torrey’s album “Obsidian Animals” and Eddie’s processed bridge sounds that you’ll be able to hear at the concerts, along with his music and much more. Tickets are available now.
This has been Beyond Category. I’m Douglas Detrick, the podcaster-in-chief and Executive Director of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, the little non-profit that helps Oregon artists make a big noise. If you like what we do and want to support us, you can become a member of the PJCE and get discounts, early previews, and other special perks with your tax-deductible donation. Head to pjce.org to learn more.

Thanks for listening.