Collecting Sounds

Over the previous few months I’ve been out in the local landscape taking field recordings, gathering a library of material I can draw on to build the electronic sound track for the piece.

The moorland has several habitats within in it.  There are vast areas of nearly impenetrable grassy tussock.  In locations managed for grouse heather is the dominant species.


Heather moor

There is peat bog.  In less exposed areas land is used as rough (or sometimes ‘improved’) pasture for sheep and to a lesser extent, cattle.

Rough grazing land

The landscape also accommodates upland reservoirs,  long strings of electricity pylons, and clusters of massive wind turbines.

Wind turbines

My aim has been to capture the sounds from each of these different settings, but also of course to seek out areas which might represent  ‘rewilded’ or less managed habitats.  More on what ‘rewilded’ might actually mean and sound like in a separate blog!

Where small streams cut crevices in the land, the slopes have been colonised by shrubby vegetation and trees.  Long established  deciduous woodland covers some areas of valley side,  and increasingly there are  small pockets of land that have been fenced off from grazing animals and planted with saplings in protective plastic casings.

Planted saplings

Many of the recordings  are intended to capture the  ambience of the location and the range of sounds that may be happening.  Often these are distant or fleeting. On the moors one of the most predominant sounds is the wind.

In other recordings, rather than capturing ambience,  I have sought to focus on one particular subject – a species, or structure- e.g. the sound/s of a wind turbine or electricity pylon.  My latest attempts to capture  the call of a Red Grouse in heather moor have largely failed.  It seems they stay quiet unless you disturb them (very wise).

Most of the time unless at an isolated location I have had to  contend with road noise, and always with and overhead whine of aircraft.  Despite these incursions,  the opportunity to ‘listen in’ for an extended period to the space around me, amplified by the microphone, is an experience I enjoy.  A chance to unhook myself from the pace of everyday life and enter a more reflective head-space, maybe a bit like mediation or a form of mindfulness, although I cannot say for sure as I practice neither.

In forthcoming blogs I will make the various sound recordings available and say a little about them.

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