Diane Wheeler Dunn
2021 / Diane Wheeler Dunn
Review by Kathy Parsons
Quiet Beauty is the debut album by flutist/composer Diane Wheeler Dunn. The thirteen original tracks are performed with Native American-style flutes accompanied by keyboards, ambient pads, hand percussion and a variety of ethnic instruments that combine to give the album a unique sound. Diane has played silver flutes since she was a child and found her first Native American-style flute while mall walking ten years ago. Recent coaching sessions with fellow flutist Jonny Lipford led Diane on a journey to composing, recording, mixing her own backing tracks, and producing this first album. The album clearly demonstrates Diane's love for eco-spirituality and "the certainty that creating beauty through music, art, poetry, gardening, etc. can help to balance the struggles of our world." The sound of Native American flutes can be both soothing and haunting, but Diane also expresses joy and calls attention to ways we can make the world a better place. Under the title of the album, the cover says: "A more beautiful world is possible" and then Diane proves it with her music. Also a photographer, the album cover photo is one of Diane's.
Quiet Beauty begins with "Yearning," the first piece Diane composed, and speaks to the yearnings we have all experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Native style flutes, ambient pad and udu express deep longing and sadness in a way words never could. The instrumentation on "Awaken" includes dulcimer - an instrument not often associated with Native American flutes! It's a beautiful combination made even more atmospheric with ambient pad and keyboard. (The title refers to more of a spiritual awakening than getting up in the morning!) "Soaring Hawk" comes with the quote "From the hawk’s perspective, soaring on the wind, high above the earth, there are no county lines, state lines, or borders. Fences are something they perch on. Flying free from cultural restrictions, they live the life they were born to live." - a lesson mankind should take to heart! "Joy of the Little Horse" is much lighter and more carefree. "This song expresses the joy I feel when I play the flute.... Let’s go barefoot and dance in the grass!""Dancing With Fireflies" is a favorite. In addition to the flutes and ambient pad are tabla and tambourine with an "east meets west" kind of flavor. The rhythms are subtle but very effective. The title track is built around the concept of "stillness, simplicity and serenity" and is played with Native style flutes, electric piano and darbouka (also known as a goblet drum for its shape). "Much of the beauty we experience comes to us without any action on our parts." "Journey To the Wider We" is an improvisation on the ocarina that floats on the ambient pad sounds. A piece about inclusion and being open to welcoming ever-widening circles of connection, it feels prayerful in its sincerity. "Wintering Woodland" has a sparkling, magical quality like freshly-fallen snow. Flutes, windchimes and kalimba paint a picture of nature in its wonder and beauty. "Sailing On a Dreamboat" was inspired by the memory of a time when Diane had hesitated and a long-held dream was no longer available when she was ready to say "yes" to it. "Grab hold of that dream!" Wise words! Flutes, ambient pad and bongo express a very important message and bring this lovely album to a close.
Quiet Beauty shares many life lessons through the wonder of music. Beautiful, soothing and often profound, I look forward to hearing more from Diane Wheeler Dunn! The album is available to stream or download from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, YouTube, Spotify and others.
October 8, 2021