‘Deep Carving’ was commissioned by the Third Coast Percussion Quartet. Its title comes from the long tradition of Pacific Coast First Nations carving. Something that has been beautifully or artfully made is said to be ‘deeply carved.’ The carvings of the Pacific Coast First Nations people are focused on the physical boundaries of the object, often boxes, but other objects as well like their famous story poles. The designs within the boundaries are made up of a finite series of shapes that spill out to the boundaries and fold in on one another, each being stretched, warped, compressed, twisted, in order to represent the figure being depicted. These figures are usually animals featured in the mythic pantheon (ravens, frogs, bears, whales, etc.).
‘Deep Carving’ takes these ideas and applies them to musical shapes and ideas that are similarly varied and rearranged. As the music unfolds, one will notice a change in the instruments from wooden ones to metal ones. This represents the change of materials available to the carvers throughout their history, where European settlers stole their lands and forced them to abandon their cultural practices (the potlatch ceremony, for example). This included their carving. Unable to use trees from the land stolen from them, they turned to metal and jewelry making. This piece is dedicated to those carvers and honors the hardships they endured, their steadfastness in the face of adversity, and their continued survival.
Third Coast Percussion Quartet