Site Singing at The Stage (Working Title), Arnolfini, Bristol, Day 2: Scratch Performance

The Stage (Working Title) was created by UWE Architecture MA students in collaboration with The Arnolfini, Bristol, as a participatory space of modular theatrical ‘elements’ which can be moved and re-combined by performers and the public. We were invited to use the space to re-imagine some of the Site Singing sites, and over a two day micro-residency, we used the hand-built props to combine existing recordings with the acoustics of the space, as a testing ground towards generating a live version of the project.


Friday March 17th, Day 2: Scratch Performance


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Watch a video of work in progress on day 2



Work in progress from our time with the movable props of The Stage (Working Title) working with three Site Singing sites, Over Bridge (‘the bridge’), the Bradford on Avon Tithe Barn (‘the barn’), and Stoney Littleton long barrow (‘the barrow’).

This audio material is from a two hour durational live scratch performance following our initial session of work in progress in the space. These live improvisations are part-composed, and based on the audio treatments by Chloé Turpin of material made during our first session, in which we took recordings, photos and drawings from the sites in as a starting point. Hear them here.

We found certain props lent themselves to the three sites of The Bridge, The Barn and The Barrow very well, and we ended up successfully incorporating every single prop in the space. We installed this audio from session 1 within the props and improvised live, inhabiting each site/prop for the duration of the track. We had already decided on some approaches / parameters for each site, based on interactions during field trips and resulting recordings as well as our fist session in the space. These vocal and performative ‘roles’ were interchangeable between the three of us. They were:

The Bridge: under and over, call and response, a constant (hum / rolling) and passing sounds (derived from traffic around the bridge as well as the rolling sound from the moving prop). The abandoned state of the bridge always inspires a plaintive feel too.


The Barn: the sound of visitors / the public outside, hidden / heard (in the site, you cannot see out much but the voice carries outside to passers by, likewise you feel concealed but someone can enter any time), chant-like harmony (the barn was owned by an abbey), and echo (it has a very unusual multiplistic echo, especially revealed by short sharp sounds and handclaps).


The Barrow: wet sounds (wet stones and also the way drips sound after rain from within the barrow), being under the mound and the intimacy that comes from that, breath (difficulty in breathing while crouched in the barrow), low calls, and a crescendo of voices from an original recording made in the barrow, which feels like an ‘apparition’ or answer to the calls.


Hear the full album here:


Singers: Ellen Southern, Chloé Turpin, Leila Gamaz
Photos by Ellen Southern and Thomas Sale


Read the Arnolfini blog article here


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