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Matthias Ziegler

When most people think of the flute, they think of the bright, shiny, silver instrument that was the envy of all the Sousaphone players in marching band. They think of lilting, soaring, twittering notes. They think Nutcracker Suite. Well, think again. Flute virtuoso Matthias Ziegler coaxes sounds from his instrument that will shatter all your preconceived notions of what the flute sounds like.

First of all, Ziegler performs his evocative and compelling pieces on a variety of flutes, including the Quarter Tone, Matusi (which he designed himself), Alto, Bass, and Contrabass. All of Ziegler's flutes were built for him by some of the master flute makers in the world. Some of them are huge, with bends and stands, very different from what most people think of when they think "flute." Using this variety of instruments, Ziegler creates music that is by turns passionate and melancholy, playful and spooky, mournful and celebratory. He incorporates elements of jazz, classical, and folk music into his haunting and dynamic compositions, reflecting a wide range of diverse musical influences.

"Ballade," from the album Uakti, is an eerie, surreal investigation of the world of sounds. Ziegler's flute thumps, whistles, chirps, shrieks, and resonates with a series of otherworldly noises. Using a combination of custom built instruments and microphone amplification, Ziegler can make his flute sound ominous and foreboding or suggest the sound of wind in the trees, a gathering storm, or enveloping quicksand. Ziegler is able to harness all of his instruments' sounds, so that every breath and tiny motion becomes part of the piece. The album's title, Uakti, comes from a character from Brazilian Indian mythology who charmed the local women by turning the wind into sound with the holes in his body. The local men became jealous, killed Uakti, and buried him in the forest. Legend has it that four palm trees grew from his grave, and the Indians made instruments from the trees' branches.

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