“Never had much use for composition “systems” until now, but Mer Boel’s “name” method of writing music, in the hands of all the Water Bear folks, seems to blossom beautifully into lovely, charming, and engaging music. It’s quite interesting too! Thanks for the beautiful sounds.” --Darol Anger, fiddler & composer extraordinaire, educator, and co-founder of Turtle Island String Quartet, Montreaux, Republic of Strings, and many more
"Water Bear is the kind of music that makes you open up and breathe draughts of sunlight until you're filled up with happy." --Libby Larsen, one of America's most-performed and recorded living composers, Grammy award winner, co-founder of the American Composers Forum
Mer Boel & Ben Blechman, violins; Chris White, cello; Nate Richardon, guitar; Bill Cowdery, piano; and Tim Reppert, bass.
The composition of most of the pieces were inspired by the Name Music system I invented where we can spell out names using a violin-centric pitch to letter mapping system. This gives us a unique pitch for each letter, and we use it for beginning melody, bass line, or chord progression. It doesn’t dictate the whole piece but rather gets the music started in interesting places, and is quite a lot of fun to do.
Bridget was composed for my good friend and poet Bridget Meeds and incorporates reference to the celtic St. Brigid; JoanNelson for Tim’s parents, Brian and Sarah for a lovely couple from Binghamton, NY upon the occasion of their wedding, and Ellen for well-loved friend and fellow spiritual traveler Ellen Booth Church. Sebastian was composed by Bill for our mutual hero, J.S. Bach, and Tim wrote his own Name when I asked.
Dances One started life as a Chinese-flavored scoring for the Kitchen Theatre Company of Ithaca NY, but Tim suggested I develop it as a piece for Water Bear instead.
Chris wrote Tammy for a friend of his, he plays it solo on his jazz CD “First Principles“ and I always wanted to play a Water Bear version of it.
--Mer, for Water Bear
Watercolor by Alice Pantaleoni
Package design by Pat Burke
Photo by David Kaden
Produced by Mer Boel & Tim Reppert. Recorded live in May 2006 at the First Congregational Church in Ithaca (The Congo). Engineered, mixed & mastered by Tim Reppert, with additional engineering by Nate Richardson.
All pieces by Mer Boel (ASCAP) except for Timothy by Tim Reppert (ASCAP); Sebastian by Bill Cowdery; and Tammy by Chris White (BMI).
Copyright 2008 by MerBear Adventures.
Some more track details and description:
The piece gives a sense of yearning for home that emerges into the beauty and fulfillment of arriving. Starting with pizzicato violin, Bridget is in medium-slow tempo, with lush three-part harmony in violins and cello. Striking acoustic guitar solo and bass solo in the middle section.
Starting with a happy repeating bass line doubled with guitar, the piece describes the upbeat movement and pacing of traveling, and features the violins and cello playing one at a time and then in three part harmony. You can picture the scene outside the window evolving and changing at a medium tempo. The middle section is a swing romp through the rest stop at a park enroute, with strings soloing.
This is exuberant Big Band Swing, with strings instead of horns, starting with a solo violin over the rhythm section and continuing with cool three-part harmony, and a series of solo expressions, featuring the piano. Upbeat and medium tempo, confident and straight-ahead, this piece always satisfies.
The turbulence created by the constant moving bass line doubled with guitar unsettles the strings soaring with their melody on top – this road show doesn’t even stop at the smaller towns, but keeps on going, and going, and going. A bluesy medium-tempo piece.
The solo cello sweetly plays the melody, and is joined by the rest of the strings and rhythm section to fill out the picture of the sun slowing rising above the horizon, emerging in a quiet brilliance of dawn. Beautiful and calming, slow to medium tempo.
A swing piece to make you happy and dance, and fill you with delight. The cello takes the lead on the melody with the flurry of violins accompanying the exuberance, and in the soloing section the instruments all shine individually moving you to join in at the neighborhood dance to the colorful, carefree and steady rhythm of swing dance.
Solo cello begins this soothing celtic melody, which gains a lot more rhythm when the rest of the instruments join in. The fairies and trolls are dancing in the forest, and twirling, too.
Drumming in the beginning of this sort of tribal reunion signals the group to gather and join their energies for a wild melody and countermelody explosion. The soloing section gets quieter and more contemplative, a little calm before the rousing storm returns.
A latin-flavored sweet melody starts with strummed cello, then the melody is taken by the violin. Some three-part lush harmonies of the strings, with the pulsing beat of the bass, guitar and piano continuing underneath. Rolling waves on the seashore, remembering the face of a dear friend, all good times to be had.