In the fall of 2004, an eclectic group of artists and ethno-musicologists embarked on a musical journey that culminated in producing the landmark recording A Noiseful Joy: Traditional Music of the Pianista Peoples of North America.
Up until that point, the music of this enigmatic culture had existed only in history books and in the stories of the descendents of those who had heard those sounds last made over a hundred years earlier.
John Edmond Richardson
Strings, percussion, and vocalization
Mr. Richardson is a musicologist specializing in pre-industrial folk societies. His abilities in site reading pictographs has won him acclaim in several cities in the West, and he was recently awarded the MacDaniels Prize for his research on stringless fret instruments. He has been Professor Emeritus at the International Institute of the Americas, in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1977 or ‘78, or perhaps as early as 1968.
Joan Redbird Pennington
Pianjo, shaken and beaten objects, ceremonial finger drum, vocals
Ms. Pennington has extensive experience in early music from around the globe. She studied acoustics in the caves of France, where she believes echoes of the world’s first music are still reverberating. As a musician, she has made recordings on over a hundred different instruments, many of her own construction, using materials as diverse as cast bronze, human hair and plankton. She currently teaches composition and modern dance at the University of Anchorage.
Paul “Mix” Masterson
Sound recording and engineering, percussion and hardware
Mr. Masterson has been in and around the world of recording since the age of 5, when he pressed his own record made entirely out of melted army men. A musician in his own right, he was the founder of the influential progressive folk band Pine Pitch. He has made field recordings on all seven continents, most recently returning from capturing on tape the chants of feral surfers in southern Australia.
Instrument maker, percussion, occasional strings and whoops
Trained as a sculptor, Mr. Frassinelli has been interested in music for years. He recreated the traditional Pianista instruments used on this recording from sketches and written descriptions that he discovered in a letter found in a Lone Ranger lunchbox at a flea market in Bakersfield, California. He is currently working on a documentary about the culture and controversial history of the Pianistas, and engaged in several copyright infringement lawsuits.