environmental sounds in Bristol
September 29, 2012 - compositionAfter a lot of driving around this evening, I finally managed to find The Scout Hut at Redcliffe Wharf in Bristol. Dominic Lash had organised a performance there with Set Ensemble – it really is a scout hut (complete with knots and bells), although the capitalisation gives it more of an allure. Great venue though, and hopefully there will be more performances there. The lineup was Dominic with Daniel Bennett, Angharad Davies, Bruno Guastalla, Sarah Hughes, Kate Lash and David Stent. They played my piece location composite #1: Portbury Wharf which I realised was apt given that the project is based around transcriptions of sounds at sites along the River Avon, which passes directly by the hut. I’ve placed three geocaches so far, and the tenth one will now be near the hut I hope.
The highlight for me though was the final piece by Burkhard Schlothauer, although partly for the situation of its performance. His 47 insignificant variable sounds with one drummer drumming involves sustained blocks of ensemble sound with subtle variation and a lone drummer, separated by measured silences. It’s a great piece in itself, but after a few minutes it became clear that there was a lot of environmental sound outside which was intruding. Initially the relatively loud dance music was a little diverting, becoming audible in the silences only to be covered by the musicians. As the piece continued however, the music got progressively louder until it became unbelievably loud. It turned out to be a party boat passing by on the Avon. I think this was one of the most engaging live performance situations I’ve experienced. The contrast between the refined, quiet playing and the world outside was very beautiful. Kathy Hinde commented that it was the alternation between an awareness of being in the piece and then in the world which did this, and that captures the situation perfectly. I’ll remember this for a long time.
You can listen to it here: