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RILLITO RIVER SOUNDING




In Tucson there is a river called the Rillito.

Thing is, it's a
river without a river.

Up until a hundred or so years ago,
the Rillito River ran year round, creating a lush riparian corridor for humans and wildlife in the desert.

But as with most natural things in Tucson, over time
the river was exploited and drained, leaving a seemingly dry, riverless river in it's wake.

I've been told the Rillito still flows underground, but if you walk roughly a quarter mile from the banks in any direction, you'll likely find the dead remains of cottonwood trees and mesquites that thrived where once water had been plentiful.




















So perhaps the river is more of an underground crick these days.

Dunno.

What I do know is occasional periods of flooding leaves behind an extended and eclectic debris field with some very interesting acoustic properties.

A couple of heavy floods in
1983 and 1993 altered the Rillito's course as they have done for thousands of years.

The only difference: Now homes and businesses lined the crumbling banks.

So concrete was poured along the banks to stop the erosion, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time, mostly to those in the concrete business.

Before reinforcement the banks of the Rillito would crumble, slowing the raging tide during periods of flooding, and allowing time for the abundant water to recharge the aquifer.

Today, while real estate is protected, the concrete banks act as a sluice, providing little resistance and causing the water to pass at an unnaturally accelerated pace.

Over the years homes, barns, cars, people, pets and
an assortment of sundry items have been swept away during floods such as the one in 2006.

When the waters recede and the Rillito returns again to a state of riverlessness, objects appear, forlorn and sunken.

A fuel tank here.

Shopping carts there.


 

















Rusting objects and corrugated steel.

The tones this debris produces when played is interesting to me.

There is also a considerable amount of infrastructure to be explored from
power poles with Aeolian wire tones to fantastic bridges with hollow steel supports.

There was even an opportunity to discuss experimental music with
a fellow riverless river traveler.

So I've embarked on a project called
Rillito River Sounding which consists of a series of recordings made by playing the river during times of drought and eventually during times of plenty.

These works are also being offered for a limited time as individual tracks or a complete collection and will be regularly updated as time and weather permits.

Till then stay tuned and in touch,

Glenn