Listening to the flight of Wood Pigeons at Saxton Rovers


One of the strands of Get Rid! has involved investigating the ephemeral nature of the sounding culture of grassroots football – its brief presence in the soundscape of town council parks and playing fields – and considering the sounding moment of each match to be immanent in each of the football pitches I have visited. The pitch was still marked out clearly on this occasion at Saxton Rovers and the goals were stacked near the pavilion at the East end of the field. I could imagine the tread of assistant referees on the stud-marked touchlines; the crack of a post or crossbar as the ball rebounds back into play or the sound of the glancing blow as the ball heads out into touch; the dull thunk as the pegs holding the net in place are withdrawn from the soil; the referee’s whistle; the commands of coaches and players – man on! options! tight! put him under! COME ON!; light applause from the few scattered spectators; a dog barking – wanting to enter the fray and join the game. These sounds are present in the architecture and material content of the site.

I have also been investigating the way that traffic sound impacts on these sites. You can see Saxton Rovers home ground – Caldecott Recreation Field – in the centre of the image above taken from the England Noise Map that shows – in particular – the way that sound from the A415 spreads out across the surrounding fields and floods the river and its banks. Earlier in the Spring I found myself in Abingdon at 6.30am dropping one of my boys at a rowing event. I had nothing to do for several hours and so walked the short distance to Saxton Rovers home and made a recording.


What struck me about the soundscape on this occasion was that I could very clearly make out the difference between the early morning sound of the A415 to the East and that of the A34 to the West. The local traffic of Ock Street was also audible and the detail of individual vehicles could be heard. On the Recreation Field itself my attention was drawn to the undulating flight of Wood Pigeons and in particular the sporadic flap of their wings as they did the bare minimum to stay airborne.


Making Sound Diaries as Sonic Fieldwork: 25th October, Centre for Musical Research, Bath Spa University

At 1pm on 25th October at The Centre for Musical Research at Bath Spa University, Felicity Ford will give a presentation entitled Making Sound Diaries as Sonic Fieldwork. The CMR’s Research Forum series takes place on Thursdays from 1-2pm in Room G18, next to the Michael Tippett Centre.

Focussing on the UK Soundmap project, the creation of a “Sonic Time Capsule” for the sound diaries website, and the composition of a soundtrack for a 1930s silent film for the Wellcome Library and The British Film Institute, (Bathing & Dressing, Parts 1 & 2) this presentation will explore:

  • The production of Sound Diaries as an aid to composition
  • Sounds as descriptors of history/the sonic texture of different eras in time
  • Working with institutions/sound as information, text, data and record
  • Emergent listening cultures/the iPod or mp3 player as a reference library
  • The street and the house as the sound artists’ studio/field-recording as drawing or note-taking
  • Participating in other people’s work/getting people to participate in your work

A key focus will be how disparate creative activities – consultation, listening, making field-recordings, running websites and blogs, archiving files and participating in other people’s projects – can inspire new compositional approaches and new contexts for the sound artist to operate and present work within.

Bibliography / URLs

Schafer, R. M. (1994). Our Sonic Environment and The Soundscape, the Tuning of the world, Vermont: Destiny Books, (originally published 1977)
Kim-Cohen, S. (2009). In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-cochlear Sonic Art, New York: Continuum Press
Bijsterveld, K. and van Dijck, K. (eds), (2009) Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
Bandt, R., Duffy, M. and MacKinnon, D., (eds), (2009) Hearing Places: Sound, Place, Time, Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press