It’s been a real joy to work on the first phase of the ECOde project run by Invisible Dust in collaboration with Scarborough Library’s Code Club.
ECOde introduces children and young people to the natural world, inspiring them to investigate local biodiversity and understand that human activity can affect nature in negative ways. It helps them to join the dots, ask questions and find creative ways to inform the wider public about climate change and environmental issues closer to home.
We’ve gone out on a couple of field recording sessions to engage with our local environment through listening. The participants recorded contrasting sounds in different parts of Scarborough near to the library including waves on the shore, traffic, and underwater recordings in the duck pond on Valley Road. We’ve also recorded ‘hidden’ sounds around us such as sonifying electromagnetic interference.
We then reviewed and edited these sounds, and learned some creative coding in Sonic Pi in order to start sculpting the sounds we recorded into a sound collage. Then we uploaded the sounds to a soundmap we made in Google maps, starting to make up a sound picture of the different sonic elements of Scarborough, including the creative sonic collage of the workshop participants’ work.
We also installed a streambox on the roof of Scarborough Library, thanks to SoundCamp. You can listen to it streaming the soundscape in real-time on the Locus Sonus Soundmap. We intend to keep this streambox running so anyone can listen in at any time to hear how the soundscape changes throughout the seasons, including the sounds of migrating birds, as well as seagulls who are nesting on the roof.
Rob Mackay is a composer, sound artist and performer. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Hull.
Recent projects have moved towards a cross-disciplinary approach, including geology, soundscape ecology, theatre, audiovisual installation work, and human-computer interaction. His work has been performed in 18 countries (including several performances on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1 and Radio France), and a number of his pieces have received international awards (Bourges (1997 and 2001), EAR (1999), La Muse en Circuit (2007)). He has held composer residencies at Slovak Radio (Bratislava), La Muse en Circuit (Paris), the Tyrone Guthrie Arts Centre (Ireland), Habitación del Ruido (Mexico City), and CMMAS (Morelia).
He has collaborated with a number of poets, including Martin Daws (Young People’s Poet Laureate for Wales, 2013 – 2015) and John Wedgwood Clarke (for the Arts Council funded Dictionary of Stone and Sea Swim with Lara Goodband). This was a natural progression from working on a number of projects based on the theme of geology, including a collaboration with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie on the Natural England funded Ruskin Rocks project, led by a team of scientists and musicians at the University of Leeds who created two stone instruments (lithophones). He has also created a Jurassic soundscape for Scarborough’s Rotunda museum which is currently installed.
Rob has been a reviewer for numerous international conferences, including ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression), DHRN (Digital Humanities Research Network), and journals (Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press) and is editor for Interference, a Journal of Audio Cultures.
He has played, written and produced in a number of bands including the Welsh Hip-Hop collective Tystion with whom he collaborated alongside John Cale on the film A Beautiful Mistake (Film 4), as well as recording two John Peel sessions on BBC Radio 1 and supporting PJ Harvey. The band have a chapter devoted to them in Sarah Hill’s book ‘Blerwytirhwng?’ The Place of Welsh Pop Music (Ashgate 2007).
Rob has done session work for Super Furry Animals producer Gorwel Owen, songwriter Euros Childs, and Hip-Hop producer Kista. He is currently enjoying playing in the Welsh Afro-tropical collective Drymbago, having supported Quantic and Tony Allen.
More information and pieces at: www.soundcloud.com/robflute
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