As a composer, David Dunn is probably best known for his interdisciplinary work that crosses the boundaries between art and science. This has included the fields of acoustic ecology, bioacoustics, interspecies communication and scientific sonification while creating a body of innovative sound work that has contributed to projects as diverse as sensory enhancement of healthcare environments and intervention strategies for forest and agricultural pests. He has invented microphones to record such phenomena as the sounds of bark beetles in trees, underwater invertebrates in freshwater ponds, and the ultrasonic communication of bats.
In Verdant, Dunn has returned to some of his more traditional musical roots to compose an exploration much closer to home, literally his backyard in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The aural complexity of this urban soundscape is ordinarily masked by layers of ambient city noise but the combination of the Easter Sunday holiday and Covid-19 pandemic shutdown allowed otherwise suppressed sounds to become readily audible. On top of this semi-wild soundscape (recorded at very high resolution), multiple sonic layers have been added that explore and accentuate the unedited ambient recording. Electronic drones and melodies are combined with harmonically rich patterns played by two electric violins. This creates a dense aural fabric interwoven with the prerecorded soundscape as distinct time streams move at different rates but interact with each other through shifting foreground/background dynamics.
"On its surface Verdant probably seems, in its extreme embrace of tonality, reminiscent of much late 20th century music (Tenney, Riley, Oliveros, Behrman, Budd, Feldman, etc.) and many popular “ambient” genres. However, beneath this veneer there are possibly some other, less familiar ideas. The intent may have more to do with the idyllic and elegiac affect sought by the English Pastoral composers after the violence of World War I and not merely a Post-modern conceit. While the motivation for Verdant was largely a response to the dark circumstances of 2020, it hopefully speaks to a more optimistic future and the favorable attention to that which we might otherwise take for granted." – D.D.