The Wingbeats project is starting in earnest now. This is the music theatre project that I will be composing the music for and which we hope will form part of the 2012 cultural olympiad.
The themes athat at central to this music theatre project are:
- Flight in all its forms, includeing bird flight and manned/unmanned flight
- How can we fly without leaving the ground through movement, music, text etc.
- The landscape of the East Ridings area
As part of our immersion into these themes, the librettist/director/producer/mastermind, Adam Strickson, and I spent the afternoon with Steve from the RSPB at Bempton Cliffs.
The point of the day was partly to get a sense of place, as our project is closely related to the East ridings area, and to learn a little about sea birds, their habits and their habitat. Steve was the perfect person for the job and very soon had infused us with his passion for birds and the natural world in general. Within no time, I found myself hugely excited at the prospect of spotting puffins, kittiwakes, herring gulls, gannets, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars.
As well as learning about the birds of the area, this trip also provided me the perfect opportunity to do some location recording. What is so rewarding about location recording is that the microphone functions like a lens in that it has a focussing effect on a particular sound, or group of sounds, that allows you to “see it” in a new way and with some opportunity to remove it from its natural context.
What I found so fascinating about the various calls of the sea birds at Bempton Cliffs was that their vocalisations were so noise-based and were rough, racous and screeching. We often associate birdsong with sweet, chirping, often meodic birds of the inland territories, which has resulted in birdsong featuring in music from the music of Haydn and Beethoven through to Messiaen in the 20th Century. Initially, I would have baulked at the idea of drawing inspiration from birdsong, but in this case, with my interest in noise, I am finding myself drawn to the prospect.