Beginning the project

Welcome to my first post!

I am researching potential sites for a voice-based sound project, based on sites listed in my English Heritage guidebook (read more). In considering the acoustic potential of various sites, I will approach each from both a listening and a musical / sound-making perspective, including the influence of surrounding sounds. I will investigate the formal and sensory qualities of each site, reflecting on what is known, and not known, about them culturally and historically.

Some sites already have downloadable audio guides created by English Heritage, and I aim for my pilot projects to offer visitors something new to compliment these. As well as being an artist, I am approaching the process from a visitor’s perspective, and these blog entries will reflect experiences of a visit including the weather and the journey on public transport.

Being Bristol-based, I am focusing on the regions of and around Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Somerset. I will select around 3 contrasting sites to work with, creating a range of approaches and methodologies. The image below reflects these initial stages of gathering information from books and online (see references below) in the planning of my field trips.

research

Longlist of potential sites (visited so far are in bold)

Stones / Barrows

These sites are steeped in mystery, with many details ultimatley un-knowable. I like the idea of working with what is both present and absent at a site  – degrees of visibility and audibility. Intriguing features such as pattern or formation, concealment in the landscape, and ‘false entrances’ could interesting starting points for ideas.

Stanton Drew Circles and Cove – Bath & NE Somerset

Stoney Littleton Long Barrow – Bath & NE Somerset

Bellas Knap Long Barrow – Glos

Uley Long Barrow – Glos

Nympsfield Long Barrow – Glos

Hatfield Earthworks – Wilts

The Nine Stones – Dorset

Winterbourne Poor Lot Barrows – Dorset

Remains / Built Structures

These sites offer the potential of physical objects which can echo, project, or bounce back a voice. Bridges have many metaphorical associations, and offer the possibility to include the sounds of water and rhythms of modern day sounds such as traffic. The Fish House was used to store collected fish as payment to the church, which ties in with the Tithe Barn below. The Knowlton church site combines Christian and pre-Christian traces, and the Abbey remains has a particular connection to concepts of early polyphony throughout the traditions of plainchant. A site like Hound Tor offers the chance to overlay the multiple histories of a range of possible residents. It also has an existing downloadable audio tour.

Meare Fish House  – Somerset

Dunster Gallox Bridge – Somerset

Hailes Abbey – Glos

Over Bridge – Glos

Abbotsbury Abbey Remains – Dorset

Knowlton Church and Earthworks – Dorset

Sherborne Old Castle – Dorset

Upper Plym Valley – Devon (Dartmoor)

Hound Tor Deserted Medieval Village – Devon (Dartmoor)

Forts

The Blackbury site is very close to woodland, which may offer interesting sounds. Maiden Castle has an existing downloadable audio tour.

Blackbury Camp – Devon

Maiden Castle – Dorset

Looking ahead: Potential Sites for eventual larger scale live works

Bradford on Avon Tithe Barn

Cleeve Abbey

Old Sarum

Muchelney Abbey

Goodrich Castle

Update – summer 2014 – I have selected to visit the long barrows from the Cotswold Severn set, as well as Over Bridge near Gloucester, and Meare Fish House outside Glastonbury. I chose these as I can reach them in a day and back on public transport, and I would have a good  few hours to spend there each time. Also, these offer a range of eras – neolithic, medieval  and  Victorian, and different sound-spaces and aesthetics – a barrow, a bridge and a house. 

First visit will be the Tithe Barn

References

English Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free Sites in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire (available from Bristol Central Library)

English Heritage Handbook 2013 / 14 edition

English Heritage website

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