Prairie Plain Song Track Information
This page offers listeners additional information about the tracks contained on Prairie Plain Song (A Flute Meditation) by Al Jewer.
To listen to any track, simply click on the title of the track (requires RealAudio Player)
1 Celtic Song (6:54) The inspiration for Celtic Song came from my experiences in Celtic and Irish music, blended with the flavor of Native American flute music. This is actually a love song, and could be played as a solo pennywhistle tune or as a duet with guitar or violin. In this setting, the melody is introduced by the silver concert flute, then the counter melody on alto flute. The background is natural bird sounds, such as what we hear in the woods in springtime.
2 Honor Song (4:47) I participate in regional events called Rendezvous, which are historic recreations of the era between 1790 and 1840. The people who come to these events dress in period dress, and live in the style of the time. People camp in tipis and canvas tents, cook over the open fire and share stories and songs. One evening, I was playing native flute around the campfire, and met a very spiritual man who also played native flute. He came to join us, and we played together for a time. He then told the story of his flute, which he had made himself in the traditional way. This consisted of his search for the tree, and his asking the tree for wood to make the flute from. During this time, he had some very powerful and mystic experiences, and made vows to treat the flute with respect. From this also came a new respect for his family and his life. Honor Song speaks to these same values, and each verse reminds us to honor a specific part of our lives and the forces around us, such as our family, our friends, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and even our enemies because they can strengthen who we are and set us free. Honor Song is played on alto flute, with the heartbeat provided by Celtic frame drum.
3 Echo Canyon (6:24) This flute quartet is played on silver concert flute, alto and bass flutes. I have always been intrigued by the excellent ambient work of Brian Eno, in particular his wonderful album Music for Airports. This album was a ground-breaking exploration in ambient music, expressing his desire to produce music which could be used for background, yet have valid musical content. Echo Canyon is my reflection of this work, with slowly moving harmonic textures expressing a mellow ambient mood.
4 Star Symphony (5:42) I live in rural Wisconsin, where the seasons provide an ever-changing background for my life. This piece came to me after an evening walk in February, when the weather is very cold and the sky is clear. The stars were shining brightly and seemed to extend forever into the sky. This moving experience inspired Star Symphony, which is played on a traditional hand-carved flute of aromatic Cedar. Symphonic string backgrounds were played on a Yamaha WX-7 electronic wind instrument, triggering chords programmed on a Kurzweil K2500 synthesizer.
5 Stormy Fall (6:10) The fall of 1995 was a difficult time for me. I had worked with a Wisconsin-based Native influenced band for eight years, but several members of the band had personal problems which made it impossible to continue. Stormy Fall was the first piece that I recorded for the album, reflecting on this time. For this piece I chose a 5-hole traditional flute of black walnut, made by Coyote Oldman. The solo flute line is played over the sound of a thunder shower, which represents this stormy time in my life.
6 Walking Eagle (5:11) This was the second piece recorded for the album, and represents the difficulties faced by my friends, and the hope that they may might once again find the strength to "fly with the eagles". This piece is played on a traditional hand-carved flute of Cedar, with the sounds of forest birds.
7 Reflection (5:56) Reflection is played on a traditional native flute of black walnut, with a harmony "reflected" in canonic fashion a major fourth below the melody. This piece also represents a time of solitude and meditation, when our thoughts become peaceful and clear.
8 Late Fall (1:00) This is the oldest piece on the album, written in 1988 and inspired by a haiku written my friend, poet Virgil Ron Ellis. This piece represents the time of fall, when leaves turn color and begin to drop from the trees, and the earth prepares for a time of cleansing. This solo flute line is played on a Coyote Oldman traditional flute of black walnut.
9 Elegy for a Friend (5:33) This last year, a good friend of mine became critically ill with inoperable cancer, and it was clear that he would not be with us for much longer. This piece, played on bass flute above the sound of water flowing in a brook, expresses my feelings for him. His passing this last fall allowed him to finally be free of pain and go on to a better place. His faithful dedication to his friends and love of the simple pleasures of life have left me with a beautiful memory of his spirit.
The title for this album was suggested by my friend, poet Larry Giles. Much of my inspiration has been drawn from the lands of the Midwest, in particular the prairies, plains and wetlands with their wild flowers, beautiful grasses and wildlife. The changing moods provided by the four seasons has a profound influence on our lives, and each season gives us a special time. I give thanks to the Great Spirit, Mother Earth and Father Sky for the gift of music to express my feelings. I hope that the pieces presented here bring a time of peace and tranquility to your life.
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