Spherical Improvisations



Reviewed by John K. Galm, Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology, University of Colorado

“Enter the soul’s garden that will

unlock the gates to your Inner Temple.


 This is the invitation that Marianne Green offers with her recording of Soul’s Garden.  A special musical hour unfolds in five movements that reveals a subtle architecture built sound by sound.  A carefully selected palate of sounds that begin with a pure timbre and then blend into an alchemy of timbres create a beguiling journey of space and time.

The composition centers on the pitch, “B”, of a frequency of 248 cycles per second.  When the same pitch is added to the crystal bowls, Koto, Monochord and glockenspiel, each has a slight variation of this frequency resulting in a shimmering of vibrations  and new timbres.

The movements unfold  with the musical maturity of Marianne in that she has the courage to focus the listener on the decay of the sounds instead of the beginnings.  These sounds grow and recede into the imagination of the ear –“Am I actually hearing these sounds or do they exist only in my aural memory?”

Many of the sounds reveal themselves as pebbles dropping in a still pound or stars appearing in an evening sky.  I sense that Marianne’s exploration and discovery of the tundra region of the Swiss Alps has produced the pacing of the sounds as a reflection of the unfolding of the precious, tiny wildflowers.

A musical composition of only timbres is rare in Western Music.  Only Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage experimented with this idea.  But this recording slowly builds an expression of timbres that is beyond experimentation leading to a beautiful, revealed structure.

Beginning with the opening minor third interval of many lullabies, the crystal bowls start our sonic journey of  the first movement “Balance and Initiation”. 

This introduction sets the aural parameters of the entire composition and acts as a book-end with the final movement.

“Peace”, the second movement is the most spacious with only the timbres of the gongs , chimes and bowls.

The center movement, “Going Deeper”, satisfies our hunger for melody with only the Koto.  However, melody here is never a cognate ---just a passing hint.  This center of the composition, carefully avoids the indeterminate timbres of the other movements.

“Being” returns to the sonic bath of the gongs, bowls, chimes with only a hint of melody to balance the previous movement.

The final movement, “Beauty”, closes the composition with the feature of the incredible 50-stringed Monochord tuned to the “B” frequency.  This instrument, skillfully recorded by David Doroski whose talents are subtly present in this piece, is able to build many harmonics with repeated strummings.  Eventually the listener can perceive the “Chord of Nature” as the harmonics build to a climax, and then decay in a final resolution of the composition.

 The composer suggests a journey of the music and I am certain that many journeys  can be discovered, especially with repeated listenings.  Also she suggests many uses for the album, such as: meditation, accompanying body work, sound healing, etc.  But, I am of the opinion that the composition is so strong and unique that it is a major engaged listening experience in and of itself.

    What a musical gift from Marianne and David!