A delayed posting of a fieldtrip on December 3rd last year. This was the first of four Northumbrian Rants – four sets of four field recordings using a process derived from John Cage’s ‘49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs’ and detailed on my website describing the Fair Isle Reels version (https://mpefairislereels.wordpress.com).
Rant 1 Step 1
At the first site I had expected the sounds to be the local hamlet and the distant main road so was a little surprised to find that the main sound was the tractor and hedge trimmer doing the seasonal work of neatening up the hedgerows.
sparse hawthorn hedge
valley bottom to moor top
Rant 1 Step 2
On to the second site – as I walked in to the bottom field and looked up towards the site up the hillside and the other side of a belt of trees I registered the fact that a horse started galloping off to the north. Thinking no more of this I carried on and was about 400m into the field when the noise of galloping hooves became audible followed a few seconds later by the horse in full gallop heading for me. There was nowhere I could get to before it would be with me so it was fortunate that the animal pulled up with about 50 metres to go and then proceeded to graze. Still, I didn’t want to risk antagonising it so opted to make the recording on the road side of the field gate.
up the hill
on the edge of new ash planting
caledonian pine on the hill top
Rant 1 Step 3
The third site was a root vegetable field just to the west of the east coast mainline. As a rule I don’t walk into crop fields but here there was more than enough space to walk in and still avoid the crops. A very short walk in but going through the patch of low brambles I still managed to trip and measure my length. After that it was easy.
fall on the way in
feels rather desolate
Rant 1 Step 4
The final site was across the county, just to the north of Hadrian’s Wall. This was the longest walk in of the day and was across sheep pasture, still frozen even towards the end of the day.
fell along the wall into the stream
ram in harness
Each of the sites has its own distant mechanical ‘roar’ – usually traffic and usually quite ill defined. It is the sort of sound that normally gets filtered out as we concentrate on something else – the wanted versus the unwanted, sound versus noise. However, listening to the recordings the sound is present – the microphones don’t filter and on playback the sounds that were filtered out on site become part of the subject of the recording.