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.