Sound Diaries Concert, part of Audiograft 2014

For Audiograft 2014, Sound Diaries is curating a series of events to take place in the Holywell Music Room on Thursday 13th March. Long-term readers of Sound Diaries will be familiar with most of the folk in the lineup; Patrick McGinley presented his own work and field recordings last year at our Symposium, and has showcased plenty of Sound Diaries material on the amazing framework radio show which he runs; Sybella Perry also presented her work at the Sound Diaries symposium in 2013; and Valeria Merlini AKA JD Zazie – with whom I co-ran “Documenting Sound” during Audiograft 2012 – has been building an archive of field recordings from that event on RADAR, several of which will form the basis for a special, site-specific DJ remix. We will write in more depth about these practitioners and their work in coming weeks, but today I want to discuss some of the recordings which we have been producing for this concert in order to realise an Oxford-specific version of Liminal’s piece, “Of This Parish”.

Liminal AKA David Prior and Frances Crow conceived “Of This Parish” during a residency in Portugal, in April 2013 during a Binaural/Nodar residency programme in the Gralheira mountain range, North Portugal.

The piece consists of organising a group of four field recordists to depart from ringing bells, and for each recordist to walk slowly in one of the main compass directions, recording the sound of the bells as they are heard in the changing acoustic environments of their trajectory. The bells are rung and the walkers walk to the edge of the sonic territory defined by the bells; i.e. until they can no longer hear them. The four separate recordings collected in this way are then configured and played together in a 4-speaker array, bringing together the expanse of the bells’ sonic range, and an impression of the total acoustic space that this sound occupies. The piece is about territory, the social and cultural significance of bells, and the new listening possibilities presented by field recording technology.

In the context of Oxford in the UK, a realisation of “Of This Parish” will be very different from the piece David and Frances created in Portugal, because of the tradition of bell-ringing in the UK which defines how our bells sound, and because of the note-patterns involved in change-ringing.

Developing this piece with a group of recordists including Victoria Bosher; Dimitris Batsis; Sam Kidel and Bruno Guastella is a very interesting process, made possible through the help and support of the Oxford Society of Change Ringers who have allowed us to access their world of change-ringing, at practices in Lincoln College and ringing sessions at Christchurch.

There are twenty bell towers within Oxford, and working on the practical side of this project – planning and exploring the field-recording side of things – has involved getting to know a little about all of them, and developing a new sense of the city’s rhythms and timings. On a Wednesday evening, for example, the bells of Lincoln college ring out around Turl Street and the High Street during the Oxford Society’s practice… on Sundays there is a sequence of different bell-ringing from Christchurch (09:00 – 10:00) to St. Aldates (10:00 – 10:30) up to Mary Magdalen (10:00 – 10:30) and on to St. Giles (09:45 – 10:30) – an almost continuous stream of change-ringing, drifting through Cornmarket and St Aldates – involving bell-ringers from the Oxford Society of Change Ringers; the Oxford City Branch of Church Bell Ringers; and the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers. Exploring the sounds of Oxford’s bells has also involved the discovery of the secret interior world of bell-towers around Oxford, and the degree of human skill and proficiency which produces the sound of bell-ringing so distinctive to the city.

Over coming days, sound recordings created in the process of developing this work will be appearing here! I hope you enjoy discovering the sonorities of the bells of Christ Church, Oxford, as much as I do.

Day 5: Red Shoot to Romsey

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12 – Chatting and cooking at Red Shoot campsite, New Forest, 1st August, 2012

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13 – Arriving at our destination to the sounds of the bell practice, and taking money from the cashpoint, Romsey, 1st August, 2012

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14 – Naz’s Indian Restaurant, Romsey, 1st August, 2012

Red Shoot to Romsey: 18 miles

The Walk 2012 Sound Diary

During the London 2012 Olympic Games, Mark Stanley and Felicity Ford walked 187 miles between the Olympic Sailing Centre in Portland, Dorset, and the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London. The journey took 12 days to complete with each day involving between 10 – 18 miles of walking. The purpose for the walk was to establish a long-distance path linking two major sites connected with the Olympic Games, and to personally undertake a fitness challenge during them.

Throughout the walk, Felicity created many recordings on her Edirol R-09, documenting the experience in sound. The collected sounds will be presented here, throughout the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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00 – All the Bells, All Saints Church, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, 27th July, 2012

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01 – Fireworks on Weymouth Beach, 27th July, 2012

To read more about the walk, visit the Walk 2012 site here.

00.42 …early morning busking on George Street

On a recent visit to Berlin to perform it pays my way and it corrodes my soul with Stephen Cornford at LEAP, I made these recordings. Whenever I could I stopped and recorded my situation from the raucous queue outside a nightclub in Oxford to the escalators at Stansted and a Mexican dinner in Berlin. The recordings were made using an Edirol R-09HR.

Extra context here.

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00.42 …early morning busking on George Street

12th December

From the 1st – 24th December, we will reveal 24 seconds of sound from a warmer place here on the sound-diaries blog, taken from either Paul Whitty or Felicity Ford’s collections of holiday recordings.

Today’s sound is of tiny wind-activated devices, hanging in the window of a souvenir shop in Frigiliana, Spain. Recorded by Felicity Ford.

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10th December

From the 1st – 24th December, we will reveal 24 seconds of sound from a warmer place here on the sound-diaries blog, taken from either Paul Whitty or Felicity Ford’s collections of holiday recordings.

Today’s sound is of Morris Dancers at Bunkfest, Wallingford, UK. Recorded by Paul Whitty.

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