Composer Carmen Braden performs an original piece on an acoustic piano that has been sunk and frozen into the Great Slave Lake. The performance captures whispered, spoken, and sung material to accompany the instrumental music and natural sounds of the cracking ice. It is recorded both above the ice and below using an underwater microphone and explores the physical and acoustic interactions between the mechanics of the piano and the acoustic qualities of ice and water.
The performance space was created by transporting an acoustic piano onto a frozen lake near Yellowknife, NWT. The piano was partially dug into the ice, so the soundboard of the piano directly connects to the ice pan, transferring the sound through the ice into the water below. The piano was transformed by freezing water onto the strings, hammers, keys etc.
The performance is partially improvised using extended prepared piano performance techniques and partially pre-composed with core text material. Carmen did this because ice and pianos have been an integral part of her compositional development and her desire to bring them together to physically interact. Carmen feels the combination of careful preparation and spontaneity of human and non-human elements make for compelling artistic results both visually and musically.