Free Play Productions
Free Play Productions   Stephen Nachmanovitch

Music from Before the Beginning

Music from Before the Beginning

Listen to & buy the recording on Blue Cliff Records


I am happy to announce my new solo album, Music from Before the Beginning.
You can get it here, on Blue Cliff Records

Go back
Go back
To the beginnings
To the tide pools
To the lips of the sea
To the fringe of first life
Where the little ones wash up from time’s deep womb.

I hope you enjoy it! 

The pieces are:


Hydrothermal Vent



Waters of Innocence

Viola & Tanpura


Tentacle Time

Viola d'amore


Nay Yama Dodo Tulu



To Be in the World

Violectra, Mockingbirds & Crow


I Am Leafy Speafing

Viola d'amore



Violin, Bass & Voice


Double Helix

Violas & Electronics


Perch on Pine

Violectra, Cardinal & Thrush


Anemones Waving Goodbye

Violectra & Waterphone


Clouds Unfold

Violectra & Electronics

This album reflects my lifelong fascination with so-called primitive life forms, which of course aren’t primitive at all. And it reflects my fascination with organic evolution as a continuous unfolding of communication, in layers and levels that interweave and intertwine in shapes we cannot describe but can experience. In Hydrothermal Vent, a single instrument, the 6-string violectra, plays layer over layer, under layer, a fluid world of change, and it unfolds from there. “Simple” solos for viola d’amore which is an old instrument of many layers – is that solo one voice or many? Simple birdsongs swooping around each other – can you tell them apart? One or many? Primitive life forms or old life forms far more advanced than we are? Nay Yama Dodo Tulu.

Is it improvised, is it composed? Can you pick the two apart? When the improvisation is toyed with and manipulated on tape (which doesn’t exist anymore) or on hard disk (which doesn’t exist anymore) or on SSD memory (which currently exists but maybe won’t in the future) – is that improvisation or composition? What is it? It is evolution.

This music is all new in 2023, but the title Music from Before the Beginning, and the graphic design, I used in a concert of improvised violin music in Berkeley California in 1978. I was making films and publishing about protozoa in the 1960s. In the 1970s as I was discovering William Blake and the magic of improvising music in real time, I wrote the lines above: “Go back, go back, to the beginnings …” I also wrote

Who can know the truth
Of Earth’s early youth?
Only Trickster was there
To witness with his eyes
And he always lies.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here also are some of my recent collaborations with fellow artists:

From This World, Another, with David Rothenberg.

Rising at Rhizome, with Ellen Burr.

So Far, So Near, with Anders Hagberg.

Resurgence, with Ron Fein.

Warm best wishes,