Here​-​ings: a sonic geohistory (2002)

by Steve Peters

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  • 72-page book with photographs by Margot Geist + CD, published by La Alameda Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico (ISBN 1-888809-38-83)

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A site-specific project created at THE LAND/an art site, a forty-acre art park in central New Mexico dedicated to low impact, land-based art.

Twenty-four hours of field recordings were made over the course of one year at various places on the site. These were edited down to a 72-minute sound collage, mixed with contact microphone recordings of various things encountered at the site such as grass, cactus, trees, ants, and wire fences.

Short poetic texts evoking the sounds heard during each recorded hour were engraved on stone and steel listening benches that are placed permanently on all of the recording locations (see Lyrics on individual track notes for the related texts).

The piece has also been presented in various configurations as a gallery installation.


released July 12, 2002

Composed, recorded, produced, and written by Steve Peters

Photographs by Margot Geist

Book designed by Michael Motley, edited by David Abel




Steve Peters Seattle, Washington

I make music and sound using field recordings, acoustic instruments, found/natural objects, electronics, and voices. Much of this work is site-specific or place oriented. Thank you for listening.

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Track Name: Midnight (June 18, 2000)
low hum and crackle of power lines
lightning illuminates the void
between horizon and clouds

a nighthawk calling and diving
calling and diving
wings slicing the darkness

a freight train's horn
answered by yipping coyotes in the east
and by their kin to the west

soon joined by a chorus of local dogs
then mourning dove
then mockingbird's midnight song
Track Name: 1:00 AM (October 25, 1999)
a long, miraculous stretch of absolute silence
beneath icy full moon glow

no cricket, coyote
bat or train
or even wind

but the body's living sounds

nervous system

roused suddenly by
the phantom hiss of great, gliding wings
an owl, perhaps
Track Name: 2:00 AM (July 19, 2000)
subliminal, alien drone
like distant frog pond chorus
mating spadefoot toads?

a startled dove bursts from its roost
rudely awakened

many crickets chirp in the damp grass
wary hound, anxious rooster
the trains never sleep

the mysterious drone remains
Track Name: 3:00 AM (August 1, 2000)
crickets sparse
humming softly in the grass
setting scattered stars to song

a bird emits a single peep
and a dog barks
starting a chain reaction across the mesa

in deepest night
all the word seems to sleep
yet a few crisp snaps of something unseen

falling leaf, or small creature
scuttling in the grass
a nighthawk plunges into deep space
Track Name: 4:00 AM (September 7, 1999)
one cricket, very near

the ringing of countless others
their high overtones hung
like mist in the air

buzz of electricity, and
ultrasonic blips of bats in flight

twice a quick rodent darts across the path
skittering into brittle undergrowth

no sound of wind
or falling stars
Track Name: 5:00 AM (August 1, 2000)
the world awakens, one bird at a time

first a nighthawk
calling and swooping overhead

and another across the meadow
then a towhee, quite close

a dove, two jays
another towhee and more

then multiples of these
echoing over fields and hills

as crickets fall
slowly silent in the warming sun

coyotes howl, then the dogs
neighbors stir, and a train rumbles away
Track Name: 6:00 AM (August 9, 1999)
an exuberant chorus
of many layered voices
joyful cacophony

westbound freight takes its time
fading into silence, and the birds
go quiet in its wake

a few crickets linger, then
nothing stirs but
shadows in the grass

soon another train
not as long, headed east
Track Name: 7:00 AM (May 28, 2000)
a rowdy gang of piñon jays clatters past
a gaggle of giggles, a whir of wings

old man crow is serious, dignified
no time for games or silliness

a pair of kingbirds do their mating dance
flapping and screeching with desire

mockingbird spins endless variations
not a hermit thrush, but meadowlark
Track Name: 8:00 AM (February 29, 2000)
steady, insistent cry of townsend's solitaire

an occasional crow, jay
or other small bird

one of them lands nearby
wings and air

wind softly rattles pine needles and grass
bringing the long, low whistles of trains

neighbors go about their living
children's laughter, slamming doors
Track Name: 9:00 AM (February 2, 2000)
gusting wind articulated
by ponerosa pine's graceful needles
as low rumble of distant ocean waves

curious scrub jays flap
and scream in surrounding piñon
trying to provoke a response

cranky ravens wheel high above
clucking and cawing their disapproval
patches of midnight adrift in azure sky

the gentle arc of a jet
a lonesome train whistle
a persistent towhee

in the end, only wind
Track Name: 10:00 AM (December 27, 1999)
the birds come to see the odd, human thing
neither rock, nor tree, nor cholla
standing dead still in midwinter morning sun

they fly in close, curious and bold
darting about, fluttering and clucking
trying to make sense of it

getting no reaction
they lose interest and
resume their morning routine

flickers peck at gray juniper limbs
their hawkish cries tossed on the breeze
a flock of juncos twitter in the brush
Track Name: 11:00 AM (November 26, 1999)
a stray sheet of newspaper
rustles in the wind

bearded grass drums upon its surface
giving it rhythmic purpose here

reading the weathered words
not as litter, but as lovely music

the grass itself barely audible
all the more beautiful for that

a piñon jay pecks busily at dry wood
then calls out suddenly

summoning hidden comrades
to convene and observe
Track Name: Midday (January 29, 2000)
a hush falls upon the land at midday
but for the wind murmuring low

a very few sounds come
it seems, from a long distance

a dog, a crow, a jay
the voices of children across the hill

a single jet makes little disturbance
even the trains are at rest
Track Name: 1:00 PM (November 26, 1999)
two dry juniper branches
scrape gently against each other

their delicate abrasions
random, pleasingly melodic

a lone raven calls to no one in particular

the collective whisp and rattle of grass becomes,
at ground level, many distinct voices

a gift of juncos, meeting in the old tree
their peeps changing abruptly to blips
Track Name: 2:00 PM (October 22, 1999)
sandhill cranes gabbling high above
invisible in autumn's blue depths

a pair of crows shout at each other
across the open field

snapping red-winged grasshoppers describe
a series of brief arcs, from there to there

their smaller kin lie hidden
discreetly hissing in the black grama

the lanky stalks tremble and sigh
as a dozen piñon jays stir the air
Track Name: 3:00 PM (December 19, 1999)
a strong wind conjures aeolian music
from power lines and fence wire

howling through juniper, and
thrashing the dry winter grass

jays chatter across the meadow
as the gale grows stronger

and a droning airplane intones
harmonic gliss across the sky
Track Name: 4:00 PM (September 6, 1999)
late afternoon, stillness
several birds
a sudden riffle of wind

five intermittent grasshoppers
one of them, gnawing at a leaf
surprisingly audible

a pair of indecisive crickets
a few itinerant bees
and 255 flies
Track Name: 5:00 PM (January 16, 2000)
a hush, almost sacred
as evening settles into twilight

clouds shifting in shape and color
pale moon frosted in lavender mist

distant power lines glow, ropes
of golden light strung elegantly to the horizon

richly mingled overtones of train and jet

the delicate rhythm
of a lacy green moth fluttering its wings
Track Name: 6:00 PM (August 8, 1999)
songs of solitary birds in flight
dove, hummingbird, nighthawk, jay

deep rumble of clouds colliding in the southern sky

wind whisps through juniper and tall grass
gathering velocity as the storm approaches

thunder cracks sharply overhead

four or five crickets rasp steadily
grasshoppers, flies, birds behind them

finally, light rain spatters on earth, grass, and stone
Track Name: 7:00 PM (July 18, 2000)
the sky fills with hovering nighthawks
blown in upon the monsoon's crest

the trees mumble and moan, as thunder
builds slowly in the gathering clouds

electricity reaches across the darkened sky
and rain shifts from drizzle to downpour

its thrumming patter upon roof and ground
and musical ping on each metal surface

rises to crescendo, then subsides
as the storm rolls onward
Track Name: 8:00 PM (May 27, 2000)
doves roosting in the light's last fading
their mournful cries and wheeping wings

a hummingbird hunting for nectar
deep throb and nervous twitter

the nighthawk's persistent, piercing call
stops suddenly as it hovers, then falls

astonishing hum of air through feathers
as it pulls from its dive, hurtling skyward
Track Name: 9:00 PM (July 31, 1999)
cricket cricket

cricket cricket

cricket cricket cricket

cricket cricket cricket

cricket cricket



cricket cricket

cricket cricket cricket

cricket cricket

Track Name: 10:00 PM (June 17, 2000)
not quite silence
but stillness, in spite of trains

a few crickets widely dispersed
two neighbors singing in crossed rhythms

piñon and juniper seem to whisper
as if windblown

yet no branch trembles
nor a single tuft of grass
Track Name: 11:00 PM (April 13, 2000)
a deep, molecular emptiness
hangs in the air
time holding its breath

an owl calls from afar
barely rising above
the thin, black line of silence

a dog barks, once

a train whines at the cusp of audibility
drifts seamlessly into jet noise and
dissolves in the midnight sky

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