Flora of Fynbos

by Robert Scott Thompson

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The Fynbos ecoregion is one of the world’s six floral kingdoms and is both the smallest and richest per unit of area. Exceptionally beautiful in topography and general landscape, the region exhibits extremely high biological diversity with over 9000 species of plants occurring in the area. Of these, 6200 are endemic and grow nowhere else in the world. Comparable in floral diversity to tropical rainforests, the area is unique for a relatively dry continental zone.

Flora of Fynbos is an acousmatic fantasia inspired by the pungent, earthy sweetness of Rooibos and also by the fragile ecosystem of the Fynbos region where the tea is found. Made from both leaves and branches, and sometimes ground to a fine red dust, Rooibos, also known as bush tea, is a unique and highly prized brew; fully without caffeine, yet high in anti-oxidants and full of beneficial effects. The tea possesses a distinctive and individual flavor and has very low tannin levels. Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems, and studies indicate that two flavonoids found in rooibos have been known to have cancer fighting qualities.
The composition is organized in three contrasting sections and was created using software synthesis techniques. Tools used include Csound, Metasynth, and Max/MSP. Sound sources, in addition to purely synthetic timbres, include bamboo, ethnic drums and bells, mbira, classical percussion instruments of various types, voices, piano, cello, violin, additive re-synthesis of various acoustic sounds, and also, in the first large section of the work, the sounds of various birds native to the region.

A general technique of acousmatic music is to distance somewhat the acoustic sounds from their origins through signal processing and editorial procedures. However, in this work, some of the sounds used remain relatively unprocessed within a context of highly processed materials – creating an interplay where the real and the imaginary coexist and blend. The longer middle section of the composition imagines the deep of night in the Fynbos, and nearly all of the sounds are processed or synthesized. Originally conceived for quadrophonic presentation, the composition has also been realized in octophonic and stereo versions.

"Work commissioned by NME Cultura Eletroacústica Linda. More at www.fb.com/nmelindo".


released 21 August 2014



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Robert Scott Thompson Atlanta, Georgia

The term musical alchemist best describes modern music composer Robert Scott Thompson. Combining his mastery of the electroacoustic, contemporary instrumental, and avant-garde genres into a swirling cohesive whole, he is an important pioneer on music's new frontier.

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