May 2024

Hi everyone, 

Time for another update about my Masters practice and other stories.

Augmented Reality – audio visual.

A few blog posts ago I mentioned applying to Arts Council England for funding for Immersive Greenbooth, the next collaboration I wanted to work on with Babs Smith. At the start of April, two applications and around 50 hours of writing them later we got a yes from ACE which is really amazing news for us and the various people we’re employing. Immersive Greenbooth is a deep dive research project inspired by Greenbooth Reservoir which is near to Heywood in Rochdale and will consist of a 6 point art trail around the site. At each point, visitors will be able to use a free phone app to view augmented reality pieces which will be a combination of sound and visuals. It’s essentially a bigger and better version of the Watergrove project we worked on last summer and it will be in situ around the site for about 9 months all being well. The project will open in Spring 2025 and we have a fair bit to get done in advance of then. 

Two of the posts are going to be created in collaboration with local community groups, hopefully some of the visitors who attended last year will be part of this process and this is probably the bit I’m most excited about. Super interested to hear what people want to see in their local area as part of this work and the ideas they will spark. 

Two areas of the site I’ve explored so far are the Naden Upper Reservoir, the smallest and highest area of water on the site and the Overflow pipe (it looks like a slide  to me) that runs between Naden Middle Reservoir and Naden Lower Reservoir. I should say, the whole site is absolutely massive, it takes about 2 hours to get round it non-stop so even getting to these points is a bit of a hike. We’re looking at ways to bring the art to accessible points on the site so that everyone can enjoy them without having to do the whole trek each time. 

Naden Upper Reservoir is surrounded by wind turbines that collectively ring a harmonious hum into the whole area which I identified as sounding around an F# and this decided the direction of the piece that’s followed. I recorded the sound as best as possible and have engineered (with help from PA) the clip into an 8 minute piece that slowly highlights specific notes after isolating them with EQ. I took panoramic photos of the location which I’ve layered over with pen and ink to work the images into a graphic score form to be performed alongside the field recording. There are two layers to the score, one more abstract than the other so we’ll see how it goes for Marco Fusi, a viola d’amore player, who I’m going to record playing the piece next week. The viola d’amore is a really interesting instrument which has 7 sympathetic strings that we’ll tune to the field recording… hoping for that harmonious hum to come through on the instrument in collaboration with the existing recording. Short vid below that helps to visualise the idea:

The overflow piece started with a short video of the structure where I noticed lines of water forming and dissolving as they splash into the next reservoir. This processed reminded me of a piano score and I’ve drawn a representation of the water’s movement onto ledger lines for my friend Natalia Beylis to have a go at playing. I stayed with Natalia and Willie for a week in lovely Leitrim in April and we did a few piano recordings which I’ll combine with other fragments of field recordings from the site for a collage of sound… I think?? It’s going to be a great summer of experimentation, working on this project and amazing to be in collaboration with Babs again. 

Music for Early Years

I was fortunate to deliver some training to people about delivering music sessions for early years this April and May, once in Barrow at Full of Noises and at the Horse and Bamboo Theatre in Rossendale. Working for this ages group is so rewarding and such a good opportunity to instil early understanding and appreciation of what music is and could be. I’m a big believer that early exposure to music from all around the world can encourage a compassion in children that is so crucial in this weird and difficult world. I’m open to people who want to get in touch about all things music and early years, I really enjoy this kind of work. 

New brass, live and sculpture

Another project I’m starting to work on as part of my course is (maybe) called Banding and will have at least a couple of stages involved in the process. I did a call out earlier this year for old, broken, brass instruments and was really lucky to receive 9 almost forgotten about instruments which, in some cases, hadn’t been used or even seen for about 30 years. The collection currently consists of two tubas, 1 euphonium, 4 trumpets and 2 cornets  (I could do a with a trombone if anyone has one lying about…). The final stage of the project will involve these becoming a sound sculpture which is a work in progress, aiming for late Spring 2025. 

Sound wise for these I’ve been invited to write a piece for Milnrow Brass band who are an incredible group of players – I can’t quite believe this is happening to be honest! I’m currently working out what the piece will be about stage and I’m kind of torn between creating a new version of my Dante Loop Heaven piece or something new about being caught in a liminal space, not quite finding a place to put your foot on safely, like an escalator with disappearing stairs. I suppose this is how I’m finding the world to be at the moment, so many real and existential threats, wars and climate change. How are we suppose to feel safe anymore? Heavy topic for a brass band but why not… 

On the other hand, the research side of this project is a lot of fun! I visited Milnrow working men’s club to hear the band practicing their latest competition piece for Winter Gardens in Blackpool and I was taken aback by the sheer volume and power of the band, especially after I positioned myself just behind the conductor, Lee. Lee was super supportive about the project and gave me tons of great advice about how to start writing and what might go down well. As part of this research, last Friday my friend Nic and I went to visit the Whit Friday brass band marches in Greenfield which was the most truly entertaining day out I’ve had in ages. I was immersed in a world I knew very little about and everyone I met and asked questions of were very welcoming. Short video documenting the trip to Greenfield:

Not going to lie, I sometimes think about the task ahead and get a bit overwhelmed. Think the best thing to do is to just work out an overarching structure and then go in carve out the music. 

Speaking about overwhelm, I’m writing this at an unsettled time for Huddersfield University because, like a lot of other places, the uni is having to cut a lot of staff https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-university-job-cuts-198-29068342 I don’t know the full ins and outs of the situation but I do know it’s not exactly making for a good vibe for studying right now, especially as we just don’t know who is going to be there for the students come the next term. It’s not great to know that people you care about might be losing their jobs…

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

On that note, I’m off. Thanks for reading. 

Sof 

Listening: 

DAMN – Kendrick Lamar 

Souvenirs – Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru

Norther – Ex Easter Island Head 

VIOLET – Martin Green 

Never Failed me yet – podcast on The Sunday Feature about Gavin Bryars 

Reading: (been hitting the novels and picture books as well as academic texts) 

Outside over there – Maurice Sendak 

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – Reni Eddo-Lodge 

1984 – George Orwell 

Knowing in Performing, Artistic Research in Music and the Performing Arts

Edited by Annegret Huber, Doris Ingrisch, Therese Kaufmann, Johannes Kretz, Gesine Schröder, and Tasos Zembylas

Poor Things – Alasdair Green