I am in the process of composing and editing a piece inspired by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) debate.
The TMT is a multi-national interest telescope project that would be constructed at the summit of Mauna Kea, on its northern plateau, disturbing over eight acres of land during construction (http://kahea.org/issues/sacred-summits/sacred-summits-documents/fact-sheet-thirty-meter-telescope-tmt). It is currently on hold because of strong opposition to the project. The opposition has really escalated this year and now has a Change.org petition with almost 59,000 signatures. It has been opposed for several years, but did not gain so much traction until a groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled (to include visiting international dignitaries!) despite ongoing court opposition.
Regardless of the outcome of the debate (which could halt the TMT construction entirely), a huge range of discussions have come about, inciting both supportive and opposed responses to the protestors. Protestors are not all against the TMT for cultural reasons. In fact, many also have concerns for the construction's effect and the TMT's operational effect on the island's main groundwater resources (see this poster by Kealoha Pisciotta). Still, cultural reasons have gotten the most response and coverage on the web. It is likely the strongest pull for other locals to join, and it is likely a reason-base that is not as easy for TMT and the University of Hawaii to work around. For quick cultural reference, Mauna Kea, or Mauna A Wākea, is the "belly button" (piko) of Hawai`i island, that which resulted from the union of Wākea (the sky father) and Papawalinu`u (earth mother) (read here for testimony on Mauna Kea's significance). Because of culturally ignorant comments (including from scientists - see "Science Struggles With the Practical Details of Sharing a World"), I hope to showcase at least a fraction of the values and roots of the Hawaiian Culture - inspired by the ever-important values of Respect, Recognition, and Reciprocity.
Being Native Hawaiian and having grown up in a few places - from Maui, to Maryland, Virginia, and California, I empathize with desires on both sides of the TMT debate. However, as I have continued to read and watched pieces regarding the TMT, I stand with the protestors; not against the TMT's scientific objectives, but against its location.
In this composition, I utilize virtual instruments, recorded acoustic instrument audio, recorded rally audio, and Creative Commons 0 public domain audio files to create a blending and clashing of music styles. The aesthetics I am attempting to capture are those of very synthesizer heavy ambient and electronic music, the acoustic texture of Hawaiian kahiko (ancient) hula and music, and the Western style, harmony-heavy modern textures of Hawaiian music today (not island/reggae). I will be showcasing this piece at the end of May/start of June, along with a video that may provide more context and direction to the piece.
I am hoping to accompany these pieces with a research paper, detailing some of the information I have come across in my research and the ideas that I've developed and grappled with as I move forward in my work, but that is still up in the air...
(1) Through sound, invoke a sense of darkness, bubbling lava of the Hawaiian archipelago, and the navigation of the Polynesian voyagers who first settled these islands. At the same, display the night sky, lava shots if I can find any, shots of the mauna and telescopes.
--Navigation using the stars is an important topic to touch upon in this section (aurally and visually), because there are arguments that support and stand against the TMT, which use the astronomical skills and history of Hawaiians as a basis. --Upper register, tinny and reverberant bells should "twinkle" in bursts --Harmonic motion in the primary virtual instrument track increases after first couple of star bursts --Percussion sounds of the 'ulī'ulī can blend and part from the wave/ocean audio, or stand in place of water audio.
- to be continued asap.
(2) The voyagers became stewards of the land and sea - trying to find equilibrium in a cycle of giving and taking from the land - Ua mau ke ea o ka 'āina i ka pono = The life of the land is preserved in righteousness. Chants are an important piece of showing recognition, respect, and reciprocity to people, gods, and nature in the relationship of giving, asking, and taking (between the people and nature/people and the gods, which tend to be linked). In this second section, I try to blend key chants and sound bites from a rally I attended in San Francisco.
--It is important to introduce voices early on in the piece so that use of rally audio is not too jarring later in the piece. <---- I tried to address this by introducing some vocal sound bytes to the first section. --Definitely to include ipu beats (not always u-te/u-te-te). --Is there a way to incorporate the star sounds in any way? Transition to section 3 maybe.
(3) Utilize rally song audio (instrumental bites) to move to a more melodic driven final section.
"Temple Under Siege" http://oiwi.tv/oiwitv/mauna-kea-temple-under-siege/
2014 Trailer for 'Ike: Wisdom to Whisper, https://vimeo.com/95314125
Interesting overview on Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/13/hawaii-telescope-protests-tmt-mauna-kea_n_7044164.html
Helpful footage: https://vimeo.com/34264320
Nice animation from the Bishop Museum Planetarium show on recent developments in Hawaiian Navigation systems after Polynesian navigation revival: https://vimeo.com/100267622
Very little helpful footage: https://vimeo.com/28217520
Nice video on Pacific, polynesian voyaging history https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghojMWv5AZA
Archival ship + ocean + island Hawaii footage (Must contact Penn Museum Archives for permission to use this in anyway). (1) https://archive.org/details/upenn-f16-0415_1930_Pacific_Ocean_Voyage (2) https://archive.org/details/upenn-f16-0497_1930_Honolulu
NASA's royalty free resources for creative use http://www.nasa.gov/connect/artspace/participate/royalty_free_resources.html
Values to bring into the composition: https://apps.ksbe.edu/cphc/ike-nohona-hawaii