Fever Songs at ODETTA
2018, duration 2'41"
Fever Songs is a sound installation that weaves
together the vocal traditions of many devotional practices, creating an interactive sonic
experience that explores spiritual commonality & seeks to break down religious divisions.
About Fever Songs
Fever Songs is an interactive public sound installation project that brings together the vocal traditions of many religions, creating an active sonic experience that explores spiritual commonality and seeks to break down religious divisions. The work is a commingling of ritual and scriptural vocalization, recorded live whenever possible, woven together and sonically altered by ever-changing computer processing and sensor-proximity location. The installation is devoid of doctrine - rather, a bringing together of the commonality of the human ecstatic experience.
As a life-long non-practitioner, I am often confused by religious dogma and mystified by the many divisions that religious intensity has fomented. And yet, I find myself attracted to and deeply moved by many of the cultural, and, in particular, musical vocal expressions within each religion - whether it be chant, drone, incantation, speaking-in-tongues, call-and-response, etc. Once religious text has moved into the musical, there is a sense of meaning that becomes aesthetic rather than doctrinal. To my ears, it is something all religions share. The intrinsic qualities of music lends itself to a shared, positive and celebratory community.
Fever Songs is a multi-channel sonically-encompassing musical experience, where the audience is free to wander in a specified space. As they move about, sensors record and control various aspects of the audio output - density and highlighting of sound, granulation, fragmentation, layering, pitch relationships, etc.
The actual sonic choices are chosen randomly, and then woven together, harmonized, commingled and overlapped by computer. Many vocalists from a variety of practices have offered their songs, including Hindu, Haitian Voodoo, Tibetan Buddhist, Islamic, Abenaki, Christian, Jewish, Gospel, and Sufi.
Installation history: Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ - link to image
Drawing Rooms, Jersey City, NJ - link to slideshow
ODETTA Gallery, Bushwick, NY - see video above
Edward Hopper House, Nyack, NY - link to images
Audio clips (recorded live):
John Morton is a composer, sound artist, and instrument builder based in New York. His creative work currently comprises public sound works and installations, compositions for solo music boxes, and collaborative improvisations. He has received support for these projects from the NEA, NYSCA, Media Arts Assistance Fund, American Composers Forum, Jerome Foundation, Harvestworks, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Recent works include Fever Songs at Odetta Gallery in Brooklyn, Edward Hopper House in Nyack, Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, and at the Drawing Rooms in Jersey City. Sound Bridge - an interactive public sound installation permanently installed on the pedestrian bridge crossing the Sawmill River in downtown Yonkers, uses sensors to activate and manipulate sounds as visitors run their hand along the bridge’s railing, and Sonic Hotel - Lost and Found Sounds of the Adirondacks was exhibited throughout both floors of the log hotel at the Adirondack Museum from 2014-2016.
His music and installations have been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, NY Times, State of the Arts-New Jersey (podcast), and the Village Voice; interviews and excerpts of his work have appeared on NPR’s “American Mavericks” series & the American Music Center’s “New Music Box”.
To view video documentation, full bio, press, or hear music: link to home website