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Amy Denio: Crow Totem (for Noel Franklin)

by Amy Denio / Spoot Music



Composed by Amy Denio and orchestrated by Tara Forth and Steve Kirk
Produced by Steve Kirk
c 2020 Spoot Music, ASCAP

Amy Denio composed this piece for her friend and colleague Noel Franklin, a prolific and brilliant poet and graphic artist based in Seattle. Noel Franklin died unexpectedly in late May, 2020. She had been grappling with alcoholism and was diagnosed bipolar in the last years of her life. But that didn’t stop her from creating an impressive body of work. She often drew crows, her animal totem. Some of Noel’s ancestors hail from the Cherokee and Shoshone nations.

Shortly after Noel's death, Denio went to Seahurst Park in Burien Washington, where they would often go to ‘forest bathe’. According to Coastal Salish custom, ancestors reside in these woods overlooking the Salish Sea (Puget Sound). This melody took form during that walk and Denio scribbled it down. Later she composed it for voice, accordion and clarinet.

Her Seattle Composers Alliance colleagues Tara Forth and Steve Kirk further orchestrated the piece, and Steve Kirk produced the final mix of the song.

This is the first of what we hope will be many collaborative community compositions in the Creative Constellations series hosted by the Seattle Composers Alliance.


released November 7, 2020

Amy Denio: voice, accordion, clarinet
Tara Forth: voices, piano/violin/hammer dulcimer orchestration
Steve Kirk: guitar, bass, percussion orchestration, final mix.

c 2020 Spoot Music, ASCAP

Photo by Amy Denio.
Soon after I came up with the melody for Noel, a fledgling crow started following me on my walks in the neighborhood. Again and again it would sweep past my right ear, land perfectly, then turn around and look at me. When I sang Crow Totem to the crow, it stared at me, motionless, fearless. In all of our walks together it was always silent. After a few months absence, it showed up again a few weeks ago, and I snapped a few photos.


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Amy Denio / Spoot Music Seattle, Washington

Amy Denio is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist composer, singer and music producer based in Seattle, WA. She's been commissioned to compose for dance, theater and film, and has received numerous grants and fellowships and collaborated with artists worldwide.

She has performed at festivals, clubs, schools, prisons, social centers and ruins throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
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