on top of the world

In early June, 2001, my wife Bronwyn and I traveled overland from Kathmandu in Nepal to Lhasa in Tibet the only way one could that year: up the trans-Himalayan 'Friendship Highway' in a small tour group.

Perhaps because we happened to reach the Tibetan border on an unusual day, our group was not immediately allowed into Tibet by the Chinese authorities. As a result, we spent several anxious nights in Kothari, a usually-untouristed border town, patiently (and eventually successfully) pleading with the border authority to let us continue.

Serendipitous sidetrips like this are the living heart of travel, and like so many departures from agenda, this one was a blessing. A blessing because we got plenty of time to hike, play cards, and visit hotsprings with two of the more amazing friends and fellow travelers we've met: Zack Tripp and Kate Demong.

It was a joy to spend the weeks following exploring Tibet with them, and a pleasure to meet again in our then-common home of San Francisco many months later.

But it was an ever greater joy, and a real honor, to be invited to compose the processional for their wedding in Vermont on May 28, 2005.


the other rooms
gauntánamo express

desert sun

the other side
on top of the world
what the thunder said
san francisco sauvignon
would you, would you?
invisible cities
deep creatures
vincent fecteau
monkey pod

Flower girls, first dance, Tibetan blossom

The piece I wrote for Zack and Kate, On Top of the World, was created entirely using sounds gathered in places we visited together in 2001 (Nepal, Tibet, and China proper): children, drums, workers repairing the Jokhang, donkey bells, prayer wheels, musicians, monks chanting and blowing conch shell horns, chimes, chimebells, the summons gong at Deprung, doves launching into flight...

It was a secret pleasure to give back to them sounds they so patiently (and at times, impatiently) waited for me to record as we zigzagged towards Lhasa and beyond.

As lovely as I like to think this track is, in all honesty it could not compete with the loveliness of Zack and Kate's wedding: and it cannot compete with the loveliness of their marriage.

With love, and to remind them of the road.

on top of the world 30 MB

A final mix, comprising six sections which were live-mixed at the wedding. Guessing at the section breaks is left to the interested listener.

I. Entranced (find your place)
II. Theme, and Family Processional
III. Zack's Theme
IV. Kate's Theme
V. Finale ~ Conch Theme
VI. Exeunt (on top of the world)