Four walks around a year: summer
Gruenrekorder | GrDl 130/13
The slow release of the four winnall moors soundwalks reaches summer. The full 25-minute perambulation is available as a digital download (MP3/FLAC) from the German field-recording and sound art label Gruenrekorder Digital.
The walk begins at dawn on the summer solstice, that moment when day equals night and the tilt of the planet is most inclined toward our star. The dawn chorus, though perhaps less complex than that of spring, seems to be of equal volume and quality. From here the listener walks out over the reed beds and into the working landscape of the northern moors, an area normally prohibited to even the most robustly booted public foot. Through this acoustic trespass, we gain admittance to the farms and working landscape of the moors. Hampshire Wildlife Volunteers meet beneath the corrugated shelter of a barn roof, whilst outside the rain pours down from blocked gutters. The sound, or if you prefer, noise, of work is an inherent part of this soundscape: the moors are not only a conservation area but also a farmed environment as it has been for centuries.
The intermittent percussion of hammers driving clips into wooden posts, sounds both distant and close, opening up a field of spatiality, which remains in a state of perpetual flux. It is perhaps fittingly ironic, that the sound of people fencing space in, should conjure up notions of place as emergent and unfixed:
Acoustic space has no favoured focus. It’s a sphere without fixed boundaries, a space made by the thing itself, not space containing the thing. It’s not pictorial space, boxed-in, but dynamic, always in flux, creating its own dimensions moment by moment.
(Edmund Carpenter, Eskimo)
In the sonic landscape, things that are there are always close to not being there. Auditory space is temporal; the presence of any sound haunted by its absence.
Summer rain with coot and water boatman
Summer breeze with tree creaks
Walking through this field of summer, calendars of sounds, appear, disappear and return: the ‘centripetal’ bells of evensong, the abrasive electrical static of grasshoppers which, like acoustic pins in an empty map, establish momentary points or clusters of noise. These insect songs will fade with autumn, but reappear next spring, whilst others sounds are lost to any coming summer. A tree branch that has split and fallen over a wooden fence, introduces a transient Aeolian whine, a noise, which was there in this previous summer, but has now, with the removal of the branch, disappeared completely from the present field of sound. The use of contact microphones not only uncovers the sounds beneath the threshold of audition, allowing us to hear the stress of trees or the gnaw of wasp mandibles on a wooden fence, they also bring into presence the ghost of sounds now no longer here.
Summer path with ice cream van
Wasp mandibles and grasshopper clusters
Today summer is here again, and I am reminded that the intention of the Winnall Moors sound walk was to not only discover and record the particular acoustic events and voices of this environment, but also to diffuse the borders of place and time: That the listener may walk through their present summer whilst listening to another. Sauntering through such a sonic palimpsest, the borders of time are as permeable as those of place.
sound descriptors: a list of sounds as they appear on the summer walk
Dawn chorus, summer solstice, slow footfall on gravel path, a grasshopper warbler, a barn door opening, a barn door closing, overflowing gutter, a choir of hammers, two buzzards circling, cutting reeds, rain falling on barbed wire, wet leaves, , rainfall on the surface of the river Itchen, the mini-stream, a coot on the pond, pondweed photosynthesis, a water boatman, a forest of creaking tree, a cluster of grasshoppers, a bee’s proboscis, wasps chewing on a wooden fence, petrol engine mower, path strimming, ice cream van, children’s voices, cows chewing, Wednesday evening bell practice at Winchester Cathedral, river hatch, a wire in the mini-stream, an evening cloud of Pipistrelles.
Four walks around a year: summer | Gruenrekorder | GrDl 130/13
Available from: Gruenrekorder Digital