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Music for Fracking

A work by Ohio-based composer Brian Harnetty

Among recent recipients of Creative Capital awards, announced today, is composer and sound artist Brian Harnetty, whose Shawnee, Ohio, heard here in an excerpt, uses field recording and composed segments to explore the influence of fracking on communities and the environment. This piece is brief, under a minute, but the mix of elegant, slow-paced musical elements and snippets of spoken reminiscences is striking.

A brief note explains his project:

Performed with sampled archives, field recordings and live musicians, Shawnee, Ohio critically engages ecology, energy, place and personal history to ask: What are the sounds of mining? Of fracking? Of a town fighting to survive after a century of economic decline and environmental degradation? These sounds are recorded as compositional material reflecting layers of history and memory in Appalachian Ohio. Shawnee’s history includes coal, gas and clay extraction, and the formation of early labor unions. The town’s downturn and partial restoration act as an ethos of the struggles and hopes of the larger region, now immersed in a controversial fracking boom. Shawnee, Ohio considers these histories, evokes place through sound, and listens to the present alongside traces of the past.

Video originally posted at creative-capital.org. More from Harnetty, who lives in Ohio, at brianharnetty.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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