Rev. Dwight Frizzell:
The Irish Wilderness
an historiophonic meditation
for two actors, traditional music ensemble, animal call vocalist, hydrophonic metal instrument, Ozark soundscape recordings and 6.1 channel sound
produced by National Audio Theatre Festivals in June, 2003
Home | Performance Credits | Script | Soundscape | Score | Block Diagram | Music Sources | History & Locales | Bibliography

A view along the Eleven Point River, as seen from a canoe

128k Audio Clips

All mp3 files are full-resolution for high-bandwidth internet connections.

Father Hogan's Account
History of the Irish Wilderness as performed by Roger Gregg

Soundscape 1-Cave
Cavernous drips in White's Cave, fragments of a church hymn ("St. Patrick's Breastplate") triggering distant death yells, and a bodhran triggering close proximity death yells

Soundscape 2-Water
Underground trickles at Turner's Mill, Eleven Point River rapids, "St. Patrick's Breastplate," extrusions and filters of the river through the hymn melody, hydrophonic metal instrument and acoustic bass solos, period steam locomotive triggered by the hymn on accordion

Soundscape 3-Night, "Whiskey in the Jar"
Night insects, "Whiskey in the Jar" played by the musical ensemble and filtered by the insects, Ralph Duren as night creature vocal soloist

Soundscape 4-Sunset
Sunset at White's Creek with bullfrogs and fish highlights, timepods of simultaneous forward and backward moving sounds, bagpiper playing outside the theater in the parking lot as heard through an open backstage door, and a recapitulation from Father Hogan



Project Background

The Irish Wilderness is a densely wooded area in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, located between the Eleven Point and Current Rivers in Ripley and Oregon counties, not far from Greer Springs and West Plains. Its enormous bio-diversity and karst topography veil any remnant of the murderous fate of the fifty Irish Catholic families who thrived here in the mid-ninteenth century. See History & Locales.

For this National Audio Theatre production, the biologically and geologically diverse soundscape of this area was captured by two teams of adventurer/recordists (led by Jim Metzner and Renee Pringle) and then imaged in 6.1 channel sound. The rush and swell of the Eleven Point River rapids, cavernous drips in White's Cave, underground splatter sequences in Devil's Well, nocturnal insects, and bullfrog's at White's Creek were digitally intertwined with fragments of traditional tunes known to the Irish Catholics (circa 1859) who settled here, as performed by the Third Mind Combo.

In a kind of sonic seance, the music of these people was spectrally mapped and used to filter the soundscape impressions. All the frequencies in the accordian melody "St. Patrick's Breastplate," for example, were removed from the sound of the river rapids. The melody was audible only through its absence in the water's sound. At other times, the spectral image of a guitar sparkled through a waterfall or smeared cricket chirps into an electrolized soup. The intrusive sounds of war and industry were triggered by the live traditional musicians, who shaped and carved out the 6-channel audio-space.

A first-hand account of the rise and dessimation of the Irish Catholic community at Wilderness, Missouri, penned by Father John Hogan, the poet-priest, was used to introduce and dramatize the soundscape composition.


Featured performers included Roger Gregg (as Father Hogan), Ralph Duren (animal call soloist), Third Mind Comb and the many talented participants of the 2003 National Audio Theater Festival in West Plains, Missouri.

Location Recordings

Devil's Well
Eleven Point River Rapids
"St. Patrick's Breastplate" extruded from river rapids

Location recordings included numerousMissouri Ozarks locales: Eleven Point River rapids, White's Cave (drips, rocks), Devil's Well (drips, multiple pools), night insects in the Irish Wilderness, sunset at White's Creek, underground springs at Turner's Mill, and trains at West Plains.