Natacha Diels on her piece “The God-Fearing Woodsman”
Watch my interview with contemporary art music composer Natacha Diels about her piece “The God-Fearing Woodsman”. The God-Fearing Woodsman is both a commentary on the human ability to derive meaning from repetition and an exploration of the meaning. Throughout the piece, a whispered voice provides helpful advice (“Take a deep breath”) and motivational words (“Reality can be like a fantastic hitchhike”) that have no relevance to the situation at hand, suggesting an omnipresent societal disconnect.
In the first half of the piece, she uses text derived from the AI inspirational quote generator Inspirobot to weave a nonsensical parable about a search for precious stones. The story eventually breaks down into its MadLib-style constituent sentence parts through the replacement of live spoken text with samples (performers in the live version). In the second half of the piece, she uses short bits of lyrics from pop songs (Tom Waits, Led Zeppelin) to create a narrative of existential solitude. The guardians now embrace shadow mirrors of themselves in an awkward dance. A god-like smiley emoji watches over them in its descent from the atmosphere to the world beneath the clouds. The lush electronic soundtrack dissipates until only the bass drum is still heard, and ends with a lyric from Martha Wainwright from an album of songs she wrote for her baby boy — ‘I do most everything wrong.
Watch “The God-Fearing Woodsman”:
Natacha Diels’ work combines choreographed movement, improvisation, video, instrumental practice, and cynical play to create worlds of curiosity and unease. Recent work includes Papillon and the Dancing Cranes, for construction cranes and giant butterfly (Borealis Festival 2018); and forthcoming is a 6-part TV-style miniseries with the JACK quartet (TimeSpans Festival 2020) and collaborative work for the shadowed audience with Ensemble Pamplemousse (Darmstadt 2020). With a focus on collage, collaboration, and the ritual of life as art, Natacha’s compositions have been described as “a fairy tale for a fractured world” (Music We Care About) and “the liveliest music of the evening” (LA Review of Books). Natacha is a founding member of the composer/performer collective Ensemble Pamplemousse (est. 2003). Pamplemousse specializes in unique aspects of new music composition, from complex virtuosic instrumental performance to experimental theatre to electronic and robotic performance. She currently teaches composition and computer music at UC San Diego.