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southerlies: eight soundscapes from the south of england
GrDl 118/12

Delighted to announce that my collection of soundscapes from the south of england, have been released on the German based field-recording label Gruenrekorder Digital. Initially composed in two-minute and six-minute versions for a weekly series I was doing for BBC Radio Solent, the soundscapes were developed into two documentaries produced by Steve Harris at Radio Solent, both of which featured on BBC Radio 4’s Pick of the Week.

The eight soundscapes were located in response to suggestions from members of the listening audience; some of the places were familiar to me; most were not.
The process of composition was consistent: I would arrive encumbered with a bag of microphones, recorders, headphones and a blimp. After dropping some change in the parking machine (one warden allowed me to record the amusement arcade clunk as he emptied the machine),  I would set off on a day of wandering and recording; listening to see what sounds were available to hear.
Once home, the recordings were christened and downloaded. I would then explore them again, listening and recomposing the soundscape in order to discover a sense of place, or rather, allow it to emerge. Each soundscape uncovers a certain disposition, a particular relationship with time and place: an expectant soundscape of ascent at Winchester Cathedral; a landscape of movement tethered at the riverside town of Hamble Le Rice.

The eight soundscapes featured on Southerlies include: Hengistbury Head; Lymington Ferry; Winchester Cathedral; WaterCress Line; HMS Victory; The Hamble; Abbotsbury Swannery and winnall moors: a short walk around a year. The Cathedral soundscape is an extended version, which formed part of a sound installation at The Theatre Royal, Winchester, for the Ten Days Across The City Festival.

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Winchester Cathedral | 02:00 | extract

Winchester Cathedral opens with the sonic arch of iron gates, the soundscape takes a journey of ascent through the acoustics, architecture and circadian rhythms of the Cathedral. A sense of anticipation permeates the soundscape: as Matins prepares the day with prayer, the organist rehearses a phrase, whilst elevated seating is installed to raise the voices of a choir yet to arrive. An orchestra arrives and prepares for an evening concert of Hayden’s Creation. A solo voice can be heard ascending, as I climb into the bell tower where the mechanism of the clock prepares to announce a quarter in anticipation of the hour.

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Hengistbury Head | 02:00 | extract

The first soundscape I recorded was at Hengistbury Head. Arriving in the car park I was greeted with a radiophonic static chorus of Starlings. Their song signaling my arrival within a spectral landscape: a place between stations, continually ebbing in and out of existence. In the sheltered quiet of the landscape behind the Head, emerges an ethereal harmonic hum, as the sea breeze brushing away at a wire fence.  A dog running through the lap of the salt marsh shore, leaves a wet stereophonic tear in the tidal two and fro as the approaching meditative hum of the land train drags a trace of human presence across the landscape. Sunk beneath the beach, a hydrophone offers an audible Geiger like calculation of each sonic particle of sand. As rain clouds approach the air pressure drops, and the electrical clairvoyance of a contact microphone, uncovers a single wing nut at the top of an empty flagpole, pealing out an unheard yet clangourous alarm.

Many thanks to Lasse-Marc Riek and Roland Etzin at Gruenrekorder, for all their help and support.

Southerlies are available here from yesterday: Gruenrekorder Digital

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