Walking spring over summer and winter beneath winter

Ringing Sky: Sebastiane Hegarty

Spring soundwalk: enterance into dawn

Spring soundwalk: finale and pagoda adagio

The first sound walk is now complete and will take the listener upon a twenty-five minute circumnavigation through spring in Winnall Moors. Re-composed from recordings made through two springs over the moors, the walk begins at dawn with isolated notes of birdsong and my frosted steps upon the boardwalk over reed beds. The birdsong builds in volume and complexity as several dawns combine to reveal a polyphonic chorus, surrounding the listener in territories of song. The sounds of my own steps accompany the listener, reminding you that another was present here and this dawn has now passed. It is this ability of sound to meld present and previous experience, which interests me, perhaps just as much as the quality and temporal aspect of the sounds themselves. It is intended that the listener may use the sound walk as a poetic audio guide, a sonic ghost accompanying them upon a peripatetic amble around the moors. In this way, recorded sounds will freely associate themselves with those available in the present time and place of the listener, revealing a temporal palimpsest of acoustic and visual experience. The listener can walk around the moors in the company of a previous season, the same as that now present or in contrast to it: time thickens as we walk spring over summer or winter beneath winter.  For me it is not important that the coordinates of the sound walk be strictly arranged to correspond directly to the fixed geography of the moors: that is I do not attempt to map precisely and chronologically a fixed circumnavigate movement through the moors. I prefer to let the sounds determine their own path, although by chance the location of the dawn birdsong opening the spring walk, corresponds almost exactly to location of the creaking adagio (from a HWT pagoda set up as part of the Trust’s 50th anniversary celebrations) with which it concludes.
This circular transit is echoed in a bank of swans arriving and dissolving inaudibly into the distance before returning, once more to disappear.
At the finale of the walk a bouquet of warblers, having returned here from tropical Africa, throw their songs into the air, whilst a work party, sink a post into the ground, a mobile phone adding to the chorus of territorial voices. The toil of the work party is telegraphed down a wire fence, throwing one more acoustic circumference around the moors.

As I now begin work on the summer walk, I am aware that certain sound events reoccur, so that the geography of the landscape may be tacitly disclosed within the sound walks. However, the events do not necessarily arrive at the same point in time upon each walk.  The sounds of dawn open both the summer and spring walks, revealing changes in the songs and voices present, whilst the sound of the dipping pond and mini-stream, although occurring in both walks, appear at different points along each sonic path.
In recomposing the summer walk, I have also became aware of a latent desire to use sounds, which corresponded to my idea of what sounds should be heard in each seasons: those seasonal sonic clichés which are familiar to our ears. My imagined summer was to be a dry humming soundcsape, murmuring with soporific warmth. In fact the recordings reveal summer to be stubbornly and faithfully wet: the loud timpani of rainfall on wire fences, accompanied by a softly apparent drizzle and the damp caw-caw of a solitary crow. As always sound teaches the ear to listen: ‘let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man-made theories…’ (John Cage).

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