For this installation, I have chosen two works that contrast certain ideas in the word “medicinal.”

The first is an electro-acoustic piece titled “Medicine Drum” which plays on the idea of a pharmaceutical response to healing. Many traditional medicines have been co-opted by pharmaceutical companies and copyrighted for profit. Although there is some element of the traditional knowledge in the medicine, the drug is often given without the proper contexts and this leads to more difficulties in the healing process. With medicine, music, the drums and the voice are elements that play important roles in facilitating a healing path. This gives music functionality, an idea that is now being explored by modern medicine (music therapy).

“Medicine Drum” reflects the synthesized sounds of drumming within a constructed context. There are no natural sounds in this production. The rhythms are familiar and filters and generators approximate the sound of a drum, but there are other elements that can run against the intention of healing.

“Medicine Voice” is a composition that has taken a while to construct. The process was to find a note every day and to sing it and see which note made me feel better that particular day. Every day was different, of course, so I documented the notes and the shape of the sound made by my mouth. I found that over the period I tended to use the vowel “O” as the sound that best suited my body. The notes varied so I utilized the notes closest to the original “medicine” note. The one note that stuck out most was D#, so this figures heavily in the composition (in fact D# is throughout the composition).

In terms of the production of the song, I sang all the parts into the microphone-as any other singer would-to get the best sound quality. However, the last two notes are sung to the room with the microphone facing in the opposite direction to get the indirect reverberations since healing can be a direct influence or an indirect influence.

Russell Wallace


Track one is titled Medicine Drum and runs for 6 minutes and 26 seconds. It is an electronic soundscape with varying distinctions of sound pattern, cadence and intention.

Track two is titled Medicine Voice and runs for 2 minutes and 19 seconds. It is a composition of a single, layered voice in what sounds like a harmonious choral arrangement.

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