- Artist: The Burnt Earth Ensemble
- Format: CD
- Release Date:3/22/2005
The Burnt Earth Ensemble is a musical performing group formed to explore the myriad of sounds produced by ceramic musical instruments. The ensemble was founded by Barry Hall, who builds all of the band's clay instruments. The group's music is uniquely original, with Celtic, African, Middle-Eastern and jazz influences. From thundering percussion to hauntingly beautiful clay flute melodies, the sounds of Burnt Earth are united by their common source in clay. The Burnt Earth Ensemble performs music exclusively on ceramic musical instruments. The group's inaugural CD 'Terra Cotta' captures many facets of the sounds of clay in an evocative collection of the ensemble's original music, with influences drawn from jazz, medieval, Celtic, African and Native American styles. From the haunting, ethereal flute melodies of 'Pangea' to the raucous fiddle and thundering drums of 'Siberian Hoedown', the Burnt Earth ensemble coaxes imaginative sounds and heart-felt music from the material of the earth itself. The ensemble's array of ceramic instruments ranges from the ordinary to the exotic, including flutes, ocarinas, fiddles, doumbeks, udu drums, didjeridus, nose flutes, and globular horns. The band members contribute their varied musical backgrounds-from classical and jazz to rock and world music-to create an improvised stew that uniquely expresses the delicate beauty and earthy power of ceramic musical instruments. The musicians on 'Terra Cotta' include : Mark Attebery - flute, triple-chambered ocarina Geoff Brown - didjeridu Barry Hall - fiddle, globular horn, overtone flute, ocarina, recorder, nose flute, didjeridu, clay bass, percussion, voice Beth Hall - flute, didjibodhrán, voice Richard Smith - doumbek, udu, flowerpotophone, conundrums, shaker, voice with special guests Stephen Kent - didjeridu Alan Tower - huaca Artist's Statement Our planet is wrapped in clay, wherein lies the origin of all life on Earth, as well as the source of all of the music on this recording. The process of turning clay into a musical instrument involves a magical combination of what the ancient Greeks determined were the four basic elements: earth, water, air and fire. Clay is formed over millions of years, as rain slowly dissolves the Earth's mountains. Other organic materials mix with the tiny stone particles, giving clay the proper consistency to be molded into almost any shape-water jars and cooking pots, or flutes, drums and horns. When this fragile earth-water mixture is combined with fire and air, a remarkable structural change occurs. The clay's molecules rearrange into a 'crystal lattice' that is extremely strong and acoustically resonant. This is what endows ceramic musical instruments with their unique tone-the sound of the Earth herself. Many of the clay instruments I build are based on traditional designs, such as flutes, pot drums, and goblet drums. Others, such as didjeridus and fiddles, are ceramic versions of instruments traditionally made from other materials. Some are experimental designs such as globutubular horns with resonators. And others are hybrid instruments such as the didjibodhrán (a combination frame drum and didjeridu) and the stone fiddle (a combination fiddle, flute and drum made from ceramic stoneware). Although some of my instruments use non-ceramic components such as gut strings or goatskin drum heads, all of the instruments you hear on this recording are constructed primarily from clay. I find it extremely satisfying to be able to transform such a simple material into a vessel for one of the most powerful human expressions-music. - Barry Hall.