The Deep Blue Sea (1989)

for spoken voice and 2-channel audio
by Hildegard Westerkamp and Norbert Ruebsaat
Text: Brian Shein
Voice: Norbert Ruebsaat

Length: 10:55

The Deep Blue Sea is part of a longer text on which Brian Shein was working when he died unexpectedly of cancer on May 30, 1988. The text is written for Brian's daughter, Ivana. It arrived in the mail at the time Hildi was working on the bells soundscape in which the text is here presented. When Hildi played me her composed tape to which I was planning a text for an upcoming performance, I immediately knew that Brian's text, and not one of my own, would be the right one for this piece. We tried a recording session, the text fit perfectly with the length of the composed tape, and so the collaboration was born. It is fitting that it should have come about this way: Brian was the key influence on my own early development as a writer, and a collaboration between the three of us in 1972 marked both Hildi's and my emergence as public working artists. This piece returns a gift Brian gave to us. – Norbert Ruebsaat


Norbert had given me a very special musical gift: the Chimes of Olympos, windchimes made by Woodstock Percussion, Inc. I loved listening to them. But as an electroacoustic composer I could not resist recording them and making them the basic sound material for what was to become The Deep Blue Sea. As I was working with the sound of these chimes I realized it had a deeper meaning for me than simply "wind chime". I associated their rich sound with the sound of European churchbells. Somehow these chimes connected two worlds for me: the "old world" - where I grew up - with its churchbells and my Canadian backyard into which I had put less rich-sounding windchimes for years. Thus the piece begins with a mix of both my past and present soundscape: the churchbells as recorded from my parents' garden in Germany and the windchimes as recorded from my backyard in Vancouver. After a short while the Chimes of Olympos emerge out of this German/Canadian soundscape as "solo performers" and carry us into an altogether new world of sound and music: The Deep Blue Sea. – Hildegard Westerkamp