Been back in podcasting land for a few weeks. I was asked to create a theme tune for the Guardian's new Chips With Everything show, plus create music and sound design for a Glabs project called Defining Moment, with Guardian US. Ongoing through the summer is also the lovely Andy Zaltzman's Summer of Sport. Anyone who knows me understands that I'm so sport illiterate I wouldn't know which end of a football to kick, and even I find SOS highly entertaining. Tune in for news of chessboxing, donkey cheese and how grouse are preparing for the Olympics. Below I've uploaded the theme tunes for the shows.
The instructions were as follows: arrive at Cheltenham jazz festival in time for Soweto Kinch’s soundcheck; receive recording of soundcheck and rehearsal; using only those recordings, create 45 minutes of new music, to be played for the audience – straight after the gig. Oxford Contemporary Music, the architects of the project who commissioned Iain Chambers and me to take it on, billed it as “recomposing”. We had about five hours …
Read the rest of the blog about this "recomposing" gig at the Guardian.
After many days and weeks in front of screens, it was great to get out and about with Chris Watson to record and produce a series of short stories inspired by woodlands and forests – a project funded by the Woodland Trust for the Guardian. The four authors who wrote stories were Alan Garner, Ali Smith, Alec Finlay and Evie Wyld. We recorded them in the locations that inspired their stories, then went away to soundtrack them, dipping in to Chris's rather extraordinary archive. The stories can be heard here and are also uploaded below.
"Any port in a storm" is a piece I made for the TouchRadio strand. It can be listened to at the Touch website. Details about the piece, from Touch, are below, as well as the photo we were sort of dying to use, but since the piece came out rather more ominous than I planned, we exercised restraint.
To call this field recording would be crediting the situation with more adventure than it deserves. At five in the morning, with a hangover starting to percolate, the ideal conditions are surely to just roll over, hit record and go back to sleep – and that is pretty much what happened here. End of disclaimer.
Boats, whether out at sea or in harbour, have a particular vocabulary of sounds. On the water, they are masked by the white noise of the ocean, in which – as many sailors have reported – you can hear almost any sound imaginable. Moored up, where things are quieter, the water laps and slaps the hull while the wind plays aeolian harp on the mast.
That rigging sound is often a chorus of tapping lines against masts, but this particular boat – a cruising yacht with a Bermuda rig, moored at Yarmouth after a day’s sailing – had an unusually musical voice, sounding clear notes as the wind passed through its structure. At sea this was a contented hum, but at night it felt much more ominous.
The tones in this piece were recorded in one of the sleeping cabins in the stern, a little resonant box. Of course, there has been some processing – mainly to remove the snoring of sailors.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to sail to St Kilda, in the Outer Hebrides. I say sail, but it really involved watching other people do clever things with sheets and knots while I faffed about with microphones and nausea. I made a variety of recordings there, some of which I'm pleased to say have been used in a radio programme about St Kilda, produced by Francesca Panetta for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. You can hear the show here.
Stories to fall asleep to … Perhaps, if the sound of a severed head on a petrol pump gets you off. These short works, commissioned by the Guardian and John Lewis, have been turned in to podcasts for which I did sound and music. The idea is you don't reach the end, which is a perhaps a counterintuitive challenge for an author. There are going to be five in all, but here's a link to the second, by John Burnside, and the first one, by Will Self.