Below the Walls of Jericho

Paul Dolden

Below the Walls of Jericho

  • Paul Dolden
  • Year of composition: 1988-89
  • Duration: 14:35
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0717540276

The title is only a loose reference to the story in the bible. What interests me about the story is the idea of a large mass of people knocking down a wall through the use of sound. The story gives credence to the notion of music as a catalyst for social change. Beyond the sheer physical impact that a large number of sounds contain, music is a form of language which is capable of stimulating thought. The power of music lies in the simultaneous physical and intellectual seduction of the listener.

In the composition, four hundred tracks of sound are often assembled to create the sense of a large mass. Three hundred and thirty-three tracks are created by dividing each of the seven octaves into forty-eight notes. Brass, string and wind instruments from the Western musical tradition and from other cultures are combined to create these textures. The remaining tracks are made from unpitched percussion instruments. This working method allows each track to have its own identity in terms of frequency and tempo. The relationship between each individual layer and the mass effect can act as a metaphor for the relationship between the individual and society. Beyond the music, the metaphor suggests questions of the nature of the walls we have to tear down in order for our culture to move forward.

Recorded musicians
Isaac Bull: bassoon, contrabassoon
Paul Steenhuisen: soprano, alto, and bass saxophones
Ian Crutchley: tenor saxophone
Lorne Buick: bass clarinet
Johanna Hauser: clarinet
Michelle Cheramy: piccolo, bass flute
Clemens Rettich: C-flute, soprano, tenor, alto, and bass recorders
Glee Devereaux: oboe, English horn
Mark Tynan: trombone
Jamie Croil: trumpet
Paul Fester: tuba
Gwyneth MacKenzie: French horn
Gary Sterle: French horn
Marc Crompton: timpani, tom-toms, cymbals, glockenspiel, temple blocks
Trevor Tureski: tom-toms, cymbals, vibraphone, marimba, hongos, congas, tablas, gongageng, kempeul, slenthem, sanon, snare, tenor snare
Paul Dolden: acoustic and electric guitars, double bass, cello, viola, violin, dulcimers, sitar, banjo, mandolin, piano.

Diana Ganske: soprano
Janis Clark: contralto
Nick Curalli: tenor
David Pay: baritone

Below the Walls of Jericho was realized in 1988-89 at the composer’s studio and premiered on November 12, 1989 during the CEC Electroacoustic Days, >convergence< at the Margaret Greenham Theatre of The Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta, Canada) — as the Berlin wall began to tumble down. The version of this work for percussion and tape, Luminous Hysteresis, was commissioned by percussionist Trevor Tureski with support from the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). Below the Walls of Jericho won 1st prize in the Electroacoustic category of the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Bourges, France, 1990).


  • November 12, 1989, >convergence<: Concert 5, Margaret Greenham Theatre — The Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff (Alberta, Canada)