Where the Paths End - London Soundwalk

room 13 ECHOES


'Where the Paths End' is a collection of 3 different soundwalks around Edinburgh, Birmingham, and London commissioned by Plus Minus Ensemble and Zubin Kanga's Cyborg Soloists UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship at Royal Holloway University of London. Each soundwalk should take about 40 - 50 minutes to experience, and they are located in areas of cultural importance within reasonable walking distance of the venues of the Reid Concert Hall (Edinburgh), Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham), and Cafe Oto (London), where live performances of this piece first occurred.

Through the presentation of environmental sound the work attempts to offer a record of the sound of three different cities in the early part of 2023. We often have visual records of cities through photographs, paintings etc, but we seldom have sonic representation. What became apparent making these recordings is how loud our cities are, and how much of our audio space is given over to the combustion engine and other anthropophonic sounds.

Environmental sounds become the springboard for other musical materials. Each movement takes the resonant frequency of the environmental recording and ornaments it with synthesizers, demonstrating that music, pitch, and even melody can be born from the sound of the environment all around us. These are lessons we learn from Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, and Pauline Oliveros amongst others. In addition, between each movement, a simple drum beat with synth acts as 'headphone music' and carries us from one recorded location to the next.

Finally, Where the Paths End is an attempt to incorporate walking, and my lived experience as an artistic practice in a manner similar to visual artists such as Hamish Fulton or Richard Long. There is a real beauty to walking and experiencing our habitat with heightened awareness. In this state we can offer strange interventions. How uncanny and beautiful to experience Edinburgh’s George Square in the dead of winter and hear it teeming with student life on a sunny spring day, or to stand in London’s Dalston Curve Garden and hear the bells of the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. It’s as if we can time travel or hover above the earth and eavesdrop on very specific locations simultaneously.

All journeys start from home, and this piece begins with sounds created in my house. The poetic title of each moment also comes from home, more specifically poems found in the collection 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' by Shel Silverstein, which my wife was reading to my 4 year-old son during the compositional process. They are not related, but associations are born from happy accidents and experiencing disparate things simultaneously, and I like to think that each movement has something of the character of their title. The poem Where the Sidewalk Ends invites us to walk to a beautiful mythical place ‘with a walk that is measured and slow’. By the same token, I hope that this piece can bring you to a beautiful place measured and slow, whether literal or figurative.




The Echoes

Part I - Invitation

Environmental sounds from the home as you set off on your city journey.

Walking Beat Interlude I

A lil sonic amuse bouche for you (Part I)...

Part II - Ridley Road Market (I Must Remember)

Environmental sounds from around Ridley Road Market blended with sounds from Reid Concert Hall in Ed…

Walking Beat Interlude II

A lil sonic amuse bouche for you (Part II)...

Part III - Dalston Lane (It's Dark in Here)

Environmental sounds from around Dalston Lane. These sounds are blended with sounds from George Squa…

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