Condo Living Short (2015 ; 2:00 duration) Sarah Peebles

The sounds of solitary bees and wasps creating nests within grooved blocks of wood: Solitary, twig-nesting bees make up about 30% of bee species native to N. America and come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Seeking vacated beetle bores in dead wood, pithy stems, cavities in brick structures and the like, solitary bees (pollinators) and solitary wasps (insect controllers) create nests by making linear rows of individual cells within which they provision food for the eggs they deposit (they do not create honey or wax). These sounds made by solitaries reflect the textures of various materials a bee or wasp utilizes to form her tunnel nests: (bees:) mud, severed leaf pieces, chewed leaves (mastic), pebbles, sand, tree and leaf resins, polyester-like secretions with pollen and/or pollen-nectar provisions; (wasps:) many of the above plus grasses with stunned insect provisions. This nest activity takes place in the dark and is usually un-noticed, though solitaries are infact omnipresent. This multi-tracked collage was Recorded at The Toronto Zoo at a site of experimental grooved blocks created by researcher Peter Hallett. Hallett’s research informed an ongoing series of bee habitat installations by Peebles: Audio Bee Booths & Cabinets.

©2015 Sarah Peebles. All rights reserved. SOCAN for Canada / ASCAP for the World except Canada. Stephen Humphrey, technical assistance.


Sarah Peebles is a Toronto-based American composer, improviser and installation artist. Much of her work explores digitally manipulated found sound, unconventional methods of amplification, and distinct approaches to improvisation on the shō, the Japanese mouth-organ used in gagaku. Since 2008 she has collaborated with artists, technicians and bee biologists on a series of projects addressing pollination ecology and biodiversity, entitled “Resonating Bodies”. Peebles recent CD, “Delicate Paths” (2014 on Unsounds), highlights her distinct approaches to performing, recording and composing for the shō, with guests Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, and Suba Sankaran.The album includes a foreword and images dedicated to its ethnobotanical and ethnozooligical connections to ancient Asia.  Peebles’ activities over the past 3 decades have been wide-ranging, including music for dance, multi-channel sound, radio, video/film, performance art and integrated media, sound installation and improvised performance; the duo “Smash and Teeny” with guitarist Nilan Perera, and trio “Cinnamon Sphere” with Perera and painter Chung Gong. Her music is published on Unsounds, Cycling ’74, innova Recordings, Spool, Post-Concrète, CBC Music, and others.

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