The Sound of a Stone

4-channel electroacoustic composition performed by the artist. Run time: approximately 30 mins.

The Sound of a Stone: Excerpts

The Sound of a Stone is an immersive exploration of song, language, ecology and locational listening performed by the artist in a 4-channel surround format. In the semi-improvised composition, the artist live-samples vocals, mandolin and natural objects she has collected on walks in the "urban wilds" of Richmond, VA, utilizing the software Ableton Live for looping and effects.

The three movements, "The Fall Line," "Shockoe Strata" and "Standing Stones: We Gaze Upon the Horizon," take for inspiration various rock formations. The work searches deep into the past of the local landscape and the James River, the geology of the area and the cultures which are embedded in its historical layers. The piece also considers the future in the face of climate change and the role of song and community as a stepping stone for action.

Bouchard gave the premiere performance of The Sound of a Stone on April 8, 2019 at Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Richmond, VA.

The Sound of a Stone: Full Performance

Songscape Performances

Series of performances with voice, found natural objects and electronics.

Songscapes are semi-improvised compositions exploring language, ecological networks and locational listening, informed by solo walks in the urban wilds of Richmond, VA. Through live sampling and manipulation of sound in a 4-channel surround format, the artist creates immersive song environments which reimagine the local landscape and reveal moments of personal ritual in the midst of global climate shifts.

Catskills Songline

Digital print (11” x 8.5”), composition and participatory performance

Catskills Songline is a melody Bouchard derived from the shape of the Catskill mountains, as viewed from the highest hilltop in Clermont, NY. It is intended to be performed informally in an outdoor setting. One brisk fall day, the artist gathered a handful of participants to sing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Instead of lyrics the group sang solfège syllables (fa, sol, la, etc.), a common practice in shape note singing.

Shape notes, used here, are a musical notation which originated in New England in the early 1800s as a teaching method and which has become closely associated with the tradition of American congregational singing known as Sacred Harp.

In its interpretation as a song, the observational data is infused with human idiosyncrasy and, in its communal performance, lifted into narrative. The singers take ownership of the piece and actively participate in this hymn to the landscape.

The News: Monday-Friday

10-part song cycle performed by the artist. Total run time: approx. 40 minutes.

Sara Bouchard performs "It Wasn't Even on Our Map" from The News at Rockwood Music Hall in 2014.

The song cycle The News: Monday-Friday is a futuristic folk tale of migration which Bouchard performs on acoustic guitar, mandolin and autoharp. Sara wrote the ten songs over two spans of five consecutive days, collaging the lyrics entirely from words and phrases cut from the daily newspaper. Through this intensive process a story emerged:

Uprooted from their homeland by a string of natural disasters, a fictional community searches for a new home amidst rising waters. In "It Wasn't Even on Our Map," we hear from a stranger who comes to town with big ideas, convincing the community to adapt to their new environment by constructing floating farms.

The News: Monday-Friday also exists as an album and a songbook of works on paper. The run time of the full song cycle is about 40 mins.

Songs of Lewis & Clark

17-part song cycle performed by the artist. Full run time: approx. 50 mins. Album released in 2008.

Performance of Songs of Lewis & Clark at The American Folk Art Museum in New York City, April 2009.

Performance of Songs of Lewis & Clark at The American Folk Art Museum in New York City, April 2009.

Songs of Lewis & Clark is a song cycle setting the journals of Lewis and Clark to music. With lyrics taken directly from the journals, the songs reveal moments of awe, reflection, humor and joy during the course of the 1804-1806 expedition through the newly purchased Louisiana territory.

Listen to the full album at music.sarabouchard.com. A special-edition CD is also available for purchase at Sara’s online store.

See also Ocian In View!, a letterpress print of lyrics from the song cycle.