Music for Mycologists

Music for Mycologists is a collection of works presented by LaSaM’s Experimental Music Unit: George Tzanetakis, Tina Pearson and Paul Walde. Music for Mycologists was first presented at the Legacy Art Gallery in Victoria, BC on December 1, 2013. It was subsequently developed into a CD recording project with Victoria producer Kirk McNally, released June 6, 2015 at a CD release concert. Portions of the project were also presented as part of the Surrey Art Gallery’s Sound Thinking Symposium November 15, 2014 in Surrey BC.

American composer John Cage was an avid mycologist.  Cage often quipped that music and mushrooms have nothing to do with one another except for the fact that they appear next to each other in the dictionary. The Experimental Music Unit has put this statement to the test.

Paul Walde’s large mushroom spore prints that were exhibited in Paradox at the Legacy Art Gallery are in fact a music notation intended to be interpreted sonically when exhibited. Accordingly, the musicians, Tina Pearson (flute, voice), George Tzanetakis (bass clarinet) and Walde (bass guitar), presented a program that uses mushroom hunting as a metaphor for uncovering those sounds of rare and raw beauty that exist just beyond perception.

In addition to Walde’s Interdeterminancy (for John Cage), the program includes a collective EMU work called Death in the Experimental Garden, the premiere of Hunt (3) Chanterelles, by Tina Pearson, a composition reflecting on her mother’s memories of lifelong mushroom hunting, and a set of short pieces by composer Vaclav Halek, who has published a large collection of scores transcribed from sounds he hears directly from mushroom species living near his home in Czechoslovakia. A rendition of John Cage’s iconic composition 4’33″ is also part of the program, celebrating the culmination of one year of weekly outdoor performances of this work by Tina Pearson. (

Music for Mycologists is a collection of three works by the Experimental Music Unit (EMU), a trio of LaSaM Music in Victoria, BC. Music for Mycologists explores relationships between music making and mushroom hunting, exposing the sometimes fragile process of discovering sounds of rare and raw beauty that exist just beyond perception.

Paul Walde’s Interdeterminancy (for John Cage), which opens the CD, is a musical realization of eight large mushroom spore printed panels designed as a graphic notation.Mycelium Running, an EMU collaboration, is a multi-movement sonic study of fungi that references Paul Stamets’ book of the same title, particularly in its description of the life cycle and anatomy of mushrooms. Closing the CD is Tina Pearson’s Hunt (3) Chanterelles, a set of sonic textures that reflect the sensations and attention states inspired by her mother’s ancestral mushroom hunting practice.

For more information about the project and to purchase the CD or digital download click here