Credit Emma Dove

Credit Emma Dove

Flight is an immersive travelling soundscape influenced and inspired by the migration of barnacle geese from Norway’s Svalbard Islands to Caerlaverock in southern Scotland.  Taking the idea of migration Flight explores the ability to move from one place to another, using multiple live and recorded sound sources to create something that mimics the movement of the birds.  Individual parts are composed to work together with room for personal expression within the framework, creating a performance unique to each outing.

The pieces utilises 8 portable speakers (minirig) and handsets (iPhone) running an application called Go Button, each with a specific audio cue list.  Within the cue list there are samples that can be triggered as and when the user wishes as well as samples that are to be triggered at a predetermined time.  Each sample has been allocated a specific action (loop, fade, delayed start, stop others etc).  Operators are given some directions as to what I would like to happen but as a guideline.  In the grand picture the overall effect will be the same but the way the sound interacts with each other and within the space will be different.

The String Trio “Pieces of Gum on Logs of Timber” refers to the mythology of the Barnacle goose that came about due to a lack of understanding of bird migration in the middle ages in Scotland and Ireland.  For centuries people had no idea where the geese came from as they had never seen them breeding nor seen any sign of nests with young. Barnacles clinging to driftwood washed up on shore resembling the head and necks of the geese provided a logical explanation, with one 12th Century Bishop Giraldus Cambrensus stating in his Topographia Hiberniae:

“for they are born at first like pieces of gum on logs of timber washed by the waves. Then enclosed in shells of a free form they hang by their beaks as if from the moss clinging to the wood and so at length in process of time obtaining a sure covering of feathers, they either dive off into the waters or fly away into free air. . . I have myself seen many times with my own eyes more than a thousand minute corpuscles of this kind of bird hanging to one log on the shore of the sea, enclosed in shells and already formed”  

The piece was initially commissioned by the Stove Network to coincide with Kathy Hinde’s Luminous Birds project with its first performance at the opening on the 7th September 2016 and additional performances in the autumn at Sanctuary - Into the Dark and DMC (Dumfries Music Conference).  Flight was part of Cryptic’s 2017 Cryptic Nights programme and was developed during a spring residency at Cove Park..


Special acknowledgement to Sound recordists Geoff Sample and Simon Elliott who have very kindly allowed their recordings of the geese to be used for this piece.