June 2017 i

The June heat means sound is travelling faster than it has all year (warm air increases speed of sound) which unfortunately allows for all the late night drunken Dublin sing song to reach my apartment window even quicker. Not that I'm a curmudgeon!

Anne Maree Barry's new work Otium Cum Dignitate (Leisure with Dignity) which I sound designed is currently on show in The Lab on Foley Street until August 20th. It's a fascinating exploration of gender and class division through the lens of early 20th century Dublin, specifically the notorious Monto area above Talbot Street.

Currently in the works is a radio adaptation of Orla Murphy's award winning theatre drama Remember to Breath

Set during a young Irish woman's attempts to learn to swim in a post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand, it explores themes of loss, disconnection, and identity as she strives to reconcile her old home life with her new home land. Sound design and mixing are almost complete and it will be broadcasting on Newstalk FM in the near future.

The Dead

A sound installation, Voices of Memory, by the esteemed composer Christina Kubisch is currently at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens. Sound installations being relatively rare in Dublin, I hopped on a bike and made my way for a listen on a drizzly afternoon.

Walking the bare path along the riverside, you see a lone caber on the bank, and begin to hear the rote murmur of names being read aloud. The sound of water fills the background as it rushes through the sluice on the Liffey north bank. Water fowl croak intermittently.  

"Richard James, Richard James, Richard James...."

For a moment I'm disheartened and think the installation is malfunctioning and is stuck on the one name. But, as it chants the next name after several repetitions of Richard James, I realise that that many men with the same name were killed on the battlefield. The installation sign informs that 49'000 Irishmen were killed in World War One. Another loop of a name repeats. Each recitation has been recorded individually though, by an individual, for an individual.

The names are read alphabetically, with the sound of hydrophonic river recordings dividing the letters. Being situated beside the river, flow and time become important themes to the piece. The names flow by, sometimes slow and monotonous, but sometimes eddying and running into one another creating a wash of sound. These names have been fished out from time, to live momentarily in the ears of listeners as they pass by, sometimes with the river and sometimes against it. I left feeling that a rainy day was perhaps the best weather to find this piece in.

As I turned to leave, I noticed the heron standing on the far bank.

Voices of Memory is running until 30th September, 2016 at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens.

Art Ambience


Another Toop inspired subject; I made a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland to try approaching the contents there in an aural inspired way. I decided to see only a handful of paintings, and give each at least the same amount of time as I would a piece of music, or sound, and also to try and listen to the painting. To hear the sounds and atmosphere presented, rather than just approaching the scene visually.

Chris Watson was commissioned by the British National Gallery to compose sound for a Constable painting. In the Radio 4 Nature show, he discusses his approach to 'hearing' the sounds in the painting. This blurring of borders between forms really does allow for greater appreciation of the artist's intent.

Sound. Memory.

Woods Noise

The recent issue of Field Notes magazine, published by the Gruenrekorder label had an unusual article composed of various onomatopoeic poems, written by numerous sound artists. The theme was memory, specifically memory based on sonic sensation. Despite smell being considered the sense connected most vividly with memory, I think there's a certain emotive nature to sound memories that can't be triggered by smell. My own most potent sound memory is of the trees that are outside the back of my family home. They are part of the outer radius of the Rossmore forest. Nothing to me was more primevally terrifying than the


of the trees on a windy night. The sound seemed to roll down the hill, seeking to wash you away into the anonymous dark. It was a threatening, aggressive sound, completely unlike the calming white noise wash of waves. Even now I still find it recalling those fears, but being a bit older, it provides more of a thrill, like nature releasing a brutal scream towards the listener.

It's a subject discussed several times by David Toop in Sinister Resonance as he tells of the fearful thoughts that are triggered by random nocturnal noises. He describes being 'woken on a Saturday night by sounds  that through the mist of sleep could have been a gang of cannibalistic human babies, crawling around our house, wet, cold, hungry and in search of an entry point'. Sound seems to press itself on the memory in a unique way, being able to emote so much more than other forms of memory. Perhaps in our mind's eye as we review the memory, just as with cinema,  the sonic sensations enhance the visual to a higher level?



"I love it when a plan comes together"

This piece is the result of some months of planning, recording, frustration, and tinkering.

The aim of the piece was to challenge the sublimation of the human body by technology in electroacoustic music. This was done by using a performance by contemporary dancer Liv O'Donoghue as the primary input for the piece. MIDI information was generated by her movements using the Gestural Music Sequencer. This triggered a software piano, and a sampler containing audio of her performance.