The compositions of Yellow Bell / bamboo dynasty

The CD Yellow Bell / bamboo dynasty was released in 1997 as my first World Fusion recording attempt. After beginning to investigate Classical Indian music I was compelled to take a two month sabbatical to study at The Ali Akbar College of Indian Music in Marin County just north of San Francisco, CA. The similarities between some of the concepts I had started working with on bamboo dynasty (a modal approach, using drones, long free intros, odd time signatures, and percussion as a tonal support in addition to rhythm) and concepts used in the performance of ragas inspired my trip and a fascination with music not only from India but from many other cultures.


Based on flamenco dance rhythms. It begins with Segadillas (medium 12/8), moves into a Tangos (4/4), and ends in Bullerias (fast 12/8). The name (Sega-tan-ieras) refers to the combining of the three rhythms. The mode comes from the flute I play called an "Egyptian" d, e, f, a, b, c, c#, d. Flamenco dancers Damaris Ferrer and Leah Black added a special rhythmic quality to this piece with their footwork and palmas.


Soprano Saxophone was my choice for this angular melody as it had a certain reedy sound that seemed to fit. Composed in 10/4, I used the synth sounds to construct a lush, rolling sound scape that builds and then releases to a free section. Tom Lee added Berimbau, a stringed instrument from Brazil, and Dumbek, a hand drum from the Mid-East.

Just Visiting

Composed in 6/4, this piece began with the idea to alternately divide the six beats as 2,2,2 and 3,3. I play Dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) on this cut and Fred Hsia played acoustic guitar. He took a great solo!

Botswana Waltz

This is a musical rhythmic puzzle. I use the Dizi (bamboo flute from China) on this piece. It begins with a free section. Then the rhythm starts in 14/ 4 which is divided into two groups of 7/4 - further divided into four groups of 4/4 + 3/4 + 3/4 + 4/4 - further divided into groups of eighth notes 3,2,3 + 3,3 + 3,3 + 3,3,2. You can hear this last group in the bass Kalimba line. Later, a sequenced Balinese gong begins a rhythm of 3/8 in time with the eighth note pulse already present. These groups of 3/8 are then grouped in the previous pattern used (based in 4) of 4, 3, 3, 4. The original rhythm fades as the new slower 14/8 gets louder. Then Tom Lee plays a Djembe solo over the 14/8. We reverse the process all the way back to the free section and we're done! This is a type of "mirror composition" or palindrome I have fallen in love with and actually led me to study Indian music as the rhythmic concepts and the free beginning have correlations in that music.


As mentioned above this was a piece that choreographer Damaris Ferrer asked me to do for her dance "Ablution". I improvised the basic tracks for this piece on my Korg O1W at one of the rehearsals with the dancers, then went home and "dressed it up" a little. I performed on Alto Flute with the sequence and the dancers live quite a few times before I put it on "bamboo dynasty"


I played all three parts on the Bansuri (bamboo flute from India) with accompaniment on the Clay pot by Tom Lee and shaker by Joe Zeytoonian, this piece was written to have the feel of an Irish gigue on a penny whistle.

Read the complete review, and about the musicians and instrumentation, and the recording of 'bamboo dynasty'.