Brooklyn, NY 11238
Miami-based architect, composer, and Indigenous flutist Timothy Archambault is dedicated to both preserving and expanding the suppressed musical traditions of his Kichesipirini Algonquin and Métis ancestors. Since the 1990s, he has developed a repertoire of early twentieth-century Indigenous music, contemporary music by Indigenous composers, and Canadian Algonquin flute songs. Indigenous flutes, carved from wood or other materials native to a tribe’s territory, are traditionally employed to mimic the sounds of nature or send signals during times of conflict. Archambault brings these instruments into the contexts of classical performance, noise, and new music, engaging in what he calls “cultural retrieval.” By returning to native methods and materials he is able to bypass the colonial influence which grafted fundamentally incompatible Western systems onto Indigenous musics.
Archambault simultaneously insists on the Indigenous flute’s modernity, likening it to a kind of machine. His solo performances explore the myriad musical effects made possible by the dual-chambered instrument’s unique capacities: microtonal reverberations, ghost tones, dramatic slurring between notes, and multiphonic oscillations known as “warbles,” which occur when increased air pressure causes a flute to attempt to play two notes simultaneously, the base pitch and a pitch an octave higher. Flutes unable to produce a warble are traditionally discarded.
Archambault’s most recent compositions were inspired by the Indigenous practice of brontomancy, or divination by thunder, and employ the flute to emulate claps, peals, rolls, and rumbles. He uses his own graphical system to inscribe the compositions on birch bark, a material his grandmother taught him to remove from trees in the Anishinaabe tradition. Archambault performs these pieces on a traditional flute made from cedar gleaned along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River in Ottawa, the homeland of the Kichesipirini people.
Read a new interview between Archambault and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Raven Chacon about these pieces here.
A Miami-based architect, composer, and Indigenous flutist born in Connecticut, TIMOTHY ARCHAMBAULT (Kichesipirini Algonquin and Métis) has since the ’90s developed a repertoire of early twentieth-century Indigenous music, contemporary music by Indigenous composers, and traditional Canadian Algonquin flute songs, a number of which he recorded for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Archives in 2007. In 2006, Archambault was invited to perform at the inaugural “Classical Native” music festival at the museum alongside Raven Chacon, Laura Ortman, and nine other Indigenous composers. He is a co-editor of the 2013 Encyclopedia of Native American Music of North America, an invaluable introduction to the many Indigenous musics of the continent, their practitioners, and their histories; a Hereditary Senator of the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation; a member of the Métis Nation of Quebec and the First Nations Composers Initiative; and co-founder, with CYJO, of the contemporary art collaborative the Creative Destruction.
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