SoNoGram from Dave Ayer on Vimeo.

2010-10-02: Our final SoundWalk 2010 performance of “SoNoGram” is now posted in its entirety.



  • SoCal J J L (Jacob) Dickinson
    Photos and LA river poetry
  • Gaia Rebecca (Becky) Ayer
    Solo violin and source loops
  • NoCal D A (Dave) Ayer
    Mixing and The Dream West

Text and stage directions

Here is the libretto used for the debut performance of SoNoGram at Long Beach SoundWalk 2010 on October 2, 2010.

So Cal Gaia No Cal
Jacob Rebecca Dave
[Largely musical intro]
[Becky and the time machines]
[Bell crescendo/decrescendo]
A river runs through it
A river runs through the City of Angels
A river washes the feet of the angels
The Dream West
When you’re born in the middle,
in the center,
at the crossroads,
you can go
any which way:
even over the cuckoo’s nest;
any which way.
But one thing that becomes clear to you at a very early age
is that you must not,
must not,
to go some other way,
some way or other,
[Bell chime]
Water falls from the sky
Water churns from wells
Water moves through an aqueduct, up and

down the hills

Water splashes on rocks
Water runs down mountains
Water runs off rooftops
Water pours through pipes underground
Water runs through parking lots
Tires hiss in wet streets
Water runs to the river
Price of Passage
We hear there’s gold out West. We hear there’s jobs out
West. In San Francisco we hear the streets are paved with Opportunity
and never mind about them earthquakes, they don’t scare us none, not
when my grandma was sucked up by a twister and set down in the next
county back in 1885, next to two dead cows and a kerosene lamp still
lit, no sir; not when my uncle used to go fishing with a saw in the
winter ’cause the ice was so thick the fish were frozen in it all the
way to the bottom, just frozen and lookin’ at him like, no sir.
We hear there’s jobs out west. We hear there’s gold out
west. In Menlo Park–it’s just like Edison’s only his is in New
Jersey–there’s men who will pay you just to have an idea, just to
think of something nobody ever thought before.
There’s ways to get out west: steam locomotives; covered
wagons; the Pony Express; sailboats on wheels! I’ll catch me a wagon, a
truck, hitch-hike, talk to an army recruiter if I have to. I got a bit
saved up to get me through, to help me cross over.
We hear there’s gold out West. We hear there’s jobs out
West. We hear it’s real nice.
[Bell chime]
The river runs:
between concrete walls
past dry hills
over tree roots [STOP]
Birds stand in the river [STOP]
Fish swim in the river [STOP]
The river runs:
past quartz towers
past a buried opium den
under a freeway
past refinery flares
past a tent village [STOP]
A horse walks by the river
“They slaughter goats down by the river” [STOP]
The river runs:
under bridges
under a train
down to the harbor
down to the ships
down to the sea [STOP]
There’s a field of flowers no one sees
There’s a treehouse with no one in it
It’s a poem no one reads
written on a scrap
thrown in the river
washed down to the harbor
down to the ships
down to the sea [FULL STOP]
One Life, One Arrow
A single arrow shot from anywhere east of the
Mississippi is going to have to go a way, a
long way, to fly over the mountains and the
valleys and the plains and the badlands all the
way to the land of milk and honey, let me tell
Stretched across the country from sea to
shining sea, from east to west, from edge to
edge, from alpha to omega lies a ribbon of hot
concrete and steel and tar and Macadam like
a rubber band between two knees, like the
drawn string of a long bow with an arrow
fletched to fly, a river of manmade stuff
poured in the shape of commerce, the shape
of progress, the shortest distance from then ’til
Aim your arrow well, and stretch the string
across that bow; now back, and back, and
back, until your arm shakes, the sweat breaks
on your brow; now breathe out slowly and let
…landing half buried and quivering in the eastfacing
hills just outside Olema, just before the
epicenter, a little placename north of nowhere
and west of no one cares and calls this
The Bridge of Dreams
[Bell chime]
Cool sea breeze blows up a hot concrete ditch
Dark water slides under a bridge
A chandelier hangs from the bridge
Candles flicker in the chandelier
Light shimmers on the dark water
The shimmer is the same
but the dark water slides under the bridge
the candles burn down
You can’t step in the same river twice
[Bell crescendo/decrescendo]
On the Fault Line
[Largely musical close]
[Becky and the Time Machines]
[The Long Tail]


Link: SoNoGram video

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