About two weeks ago, I was on a barge travelling down part of the Northamptonshire arm of the Grand Union Canal. There was banked up snow a metre thick in places along the road side. Our first morning on water was spent breaking through the ice of a frozen canal. We travelled back through snow at times, leaping on and off the boat to open and close locks, snowflakes falling around us.
But now, after what seems like about 3 days of sunshine, spring is EVERYWHERE! Bold, bright dawn chorus. Birds singing over the hedgerows as I ride home from work. And blossom. Blossom, blossom, blossom.
Well, there was a lot of effort and excitement that went into the Public Service Broadcasting gigs that went ‘PFFFT’ in a moment after the first show; my ears buggered by the massive volume of a PA trying to make the music heard over 200 odd people chatting to one another.
It hurt. It hurt a lot. I had to pull out of the other shows as I couldn’t go through with it another two nights in a row.
Ironically, I have taken solace in one of the loudest sounds I know. Church bells.
The new bells of Notre Dame courtesy of the wonderful Des Coulam
I’ve mentioned Andy Goldsworthy before, when talking about ephemarilty in music before and watching this made me think about it all over again.
I know that music is fleeting, temporary but our documenting of it undoes that ( not that I think that is a negative thing ). But imagine if the documenting of that transitory moment could only be done by those there and not with recorded sound. If all you had was a description in words and sound told and made by those that witnessed it. How would it sound to you then? Would it be as strong or would it be altogether something greater drawn of the imagination?
‘“You never listen” is not just the complaint of a problematic relationship, it has also become an epidemic in a world that is exchanging convenience for content, speed for meaning. The richness of life doesn’t lie in the loudness and the beat, but in the timbres and the variations that you can discern if you simply pay attention.’
Two weeks ago to the day, three generations of us climbed up Loughrigg Fell. The picture above is of our view of Grasmere coming up to the top of the ascent. It was a gloriously clear and bright day. The view below us in the sun was incredible and I doubt any photo could do it justice. I remember distinctly the amazing white of a swan at Grasmere’s edge where a young family were feeding it – the brightness. All of the colours below seemed almost hyper-real.
But what about the sound I heard on that fell side? Well, that’s a curious thing. There was little bird sound – a couple of jackdaws earlier on, a lone rock pippit. There was also the voices of fellow walkers. But over all of that was one particular sound – the sound of the traffic making it’s way along the road though and out of Grasmere. It was constant, it was distinct……
But then over the peak was another sound all together. A quietness punctuated by the voices of walkers dotted about continuing their walk or eating sandwiches. There was also the delicate sound of the herdwick sheep nibbling on the grass, almost like a brushing sound. So light and delicate and gentle. I have no recording of it, just the memory of it’s softness on that beautiful day.
Autumn introduces itself with mornings that seem darker than the one before. Mornings that have a surprise crispness to them. But then September has so suddenly burst into sun and blue skies and late harvests.
Came across THIS BLOG POST via the Brother Cycles blog and although, on the face of it, it is a post about an extreme of cycling, the beauty of cycling is that you taste a little bit of this every time you get on a bike. That’s why bikes are magic.
I could see it glistening on the dirty grass of the kerb as I looked from the window. I knew straight away what it was. I wondered how it got there as I walked across to see it closer. This used to be a much more common site.
Spun out reel.
A thin line of shiny brown tape leading to a messy tangle.
A shivering cluster.
On these squiggly lines is a message, a message I can hear just by piecing it back together. It will play, it will make some sort of sense because this isn’t a collection of invisible numbers. This is sound held on by the particles of it’s being.