The zoom-recorder is a favourable instrument, a microphonic camera. Other people take pictures, I take sounds. I drove to Clachan, on the day the lockdown started.
A, for Arthur
Arthur was in his house, when I asked him to sing a long deep note. He sang an A, both as a vowel and a pitch. I recorded him standing in the porch at 2 meters distance. A bird was singing too.
I needed a deep male voice to match the substance of stone, acoustically speaking, as a starting point. Arthur’s voice was embedded in the village, where the most prominent stones are a row of weathered man-high medieval gravestones, featuring swords and knights.
Four months later, I recorded my own voice in a river-tunnel at Ronachan. I hope to come back with a good female singer.
Stones and speech
Woody told me about a beach where the stones make weird noises when the water is gurgling between the rocks and the waves catch the gravel in a hiss. “It sounds as if they were talking,“ says Woody and gives an imitation rich in consonants. I am curious. Stones can represent human speech? Consonants fall out of a mouth like pebbles?
The beach is in Kintyre: it is called ‘the gauldrums’, and lies behind the bird observatory by Machrihanish. Two trips to the gauldrums with the zoom are an exploration into the sounds of stones and the sea. A huge boulder rests on smaller rocks like a dolmen. Ralph pretends to lift it with his back and laughs. Avalanches of rounded pebbles sound with every step. The wind is loud, but between the rocks and boulders you hear gurgles, slushing water, air, and stones rumbling under water. Everything moves almost exhaustively. I can hear consonants, voiceless. Some pertain to air, some to water. There is a sense of surface.
The mortar and the gallop
The zoom accompanies me on a sunny day. I am grinding oats with my granite mortar, I record the birds in the back garden and also the words of my youngest neighbour. Behind the gardens, I follow the path to the beach. I take my horses for a gallop on the beach and feed them at the stable.
The pigeon and the bus
I visited my son in Paisley and went for a walk with my zoom. The outcome is a comparison between a pigeon and a bus.
Both are connected with urban life and transport.
How to warp the sound of stones into a thunderstorm
As if, in the lithosphere, there is the same sonic substance as in the dark clouds of a thunderstorm. Even the small pebbles of gravel contain this sonic substance. If you warp it enough, the full depth of thunder is still contained.
Homesick in the flow of technical space
Trying to imitate the soundscape of my grandfather's farm, I recorded chicken, toddlers, sparrows, a bumblebee and the squeaking handle of a drawer. Faye plays a tune on the cello. Arthur sings. The rocking stone provides a heartbeat. Furthermore, I travel to town, where civilisation paranoia sets in....
Heartbeats and drones
I was looking to implement a heartbeat, perhaps on the piano, perhaps with stones, perhaps like waves, and found a dynamic of gravitational frequency mismatch with a sense of repetitive falling or tumbling and the ambition of rhythmic harmonisation.
A boat was humming a drone in the distance, while a lark sang a mile away at the standing stone, but a toddler at a bus stop in Paisley is the protagonist. Her name is Loria.