Indent Hours is a multi-channel, generative audio installation designed for the courtyard space of Castle Williams on Governors Island in New York City. The piece is a constantly evolving soundscore consisting of slow melodic tones based on music that was played on the island in both the military band school and in the prisoner’s fife and drum band that was active in the early part of the 20th century. It is made from very slow renditions of three songs, “Trust to Luck,” “Governors Island,” and “Prisoner’s Song.” The first two songs were included in “The Drummer and Fifer’s Guide” by George Bruce and Dan Emmett, a guide to marching drum performance first published in 1862 and still in use today. Drum Major George Bruce was Principal Instructor of the School of Practice for U.S.A. Field Musicians on Governors Island up until the early 1860s. “Trust to Luck” was sung by a confederate prisoner on Governors Island just before he was executed March, 1865, near the end of the Civil War. “Governor’s Island” was arranged by George Bruce for use in the school on the Island, and “Prisoners Song” is a widely-shared traditional folk song. Taken together they form a new composition, its notes endlessly moving from speaker to speaker as it plays. The title, Indent Hours, is an anagram of “in the rounds” with refers to the shape of both the structure and many of the rooms within it, as well as to the act of making the rounds, something that the workers at Castle William and on the rest of Governor’s Island had to do as a matter of course.
Indent Hours was presented as part of the New York Electronic Arts Festival, produced by Harvestworks. Special thanks to Harvestworks, the National Park Service and the Governors Island Trust.