During summer 2020, post-lockdown, I experimented with a
short text score I had written. The score asks the
performer to visit rural locations and introduce pink
and white noise using a bluetooth speaker, keeping a
journal of what happens. Below are some excerpts from
- The Copse On Kelston Round Hill
- Field nr. Yoxter, Above Cheddar Gorge
- Severn Way, Between Oldbury and Littleton
1. Portable speaker (I use a Bose Colour II Soundlink, but
any with a reasonable volume will do)
2. A playback device with a pink noise file and a white
noise file, both of which are at least 15 mins long.
1. Remain in, or travel to, to a recognisably rural
2. Play one of the noise files using the playback device and
portable speaker, noting down where you put the speaker, how
far away you stood, the volume setting and so on.
3. Write down what you do, what you hear, and what happens.
The Copse On Kelston Round
i - Notes prior to playing either file
I have come to a place that was expecting me, and has
prepared itself somehow. Perhaps it overheard me reading the
score out loud to my girlfriend one evening when I was
thinking it through.
I walk once around the hill when I first arrive: a perfectly
balanced clump of trees, bushes and grasses, and a clean
consistent wind, conspire in generating the purest pink
noise I have ever heard in nature. It is constant and it is
loud. It is a trick and a gift in equal measure.
A diffident bee.
An anonymous disturber of leaves.
A distant gate tethers the present to the hill.
ii - Pink noise - 1/3 vol. - 1m behind me (seated).
I have created a smallish ghost, a sphere that shrinks and
swells in inverse proportion to the wind, but always with a
clear and distinct edge.
Here it can be heard, but move just here, or tilt the head,
and it cannot - it disappears into the sound of from the
copse. Now it is gone for a while, but the wind dies down
and it swells and absorbs me. I am trying to become
accustomed to it, and not seek its attention.
iii - 2/3 vol. - among the grass.
I have created a smallish black hole. At first just a place,
neither temporary nor permanent but outside time. Then,
slowly becoming a located absence, as the noise settles into
its spot, and burns a hole in the rattle, chatter and shush
of the undergrowth.
iv - Full vol. - behind a tree.
This is now an intervention, its locations not sitting with
the noise but with its effects.
As I walk to the right, a note created by the interference
of another tree rises slowly in pitch, as I walk left it
drops back down. It is echoing, changing, reaching out and
manipulating. I no longer hear the noise in the world but
hear the world through it.
I back away, the wind rises to meet it, and I am outside its
Field nr. Yoxter, Above Cheddar Gorge
i - Notes prior to
playing either file
I am half a mile up a public bridle path, leading
off the road to Cheddar Gorge. In the distance, to the west,
a low tone creates an edge to the audible. It may be farm
machinery, the motorway, or the bustle of Cheddar, I can't
tell. I sit on a knoll of chalky soil surrounded on all
sides by long grass which throws up the pleasingly
distributed chk chk chk chk of hundreds of insects. It
places me on a sort of island.
On the track behind me, a Land Rover arrives and the driver
starts sounding the horn in rapid sequences - signalling, I
thin, to the cows in the field beyond that it is breakfast
time. I wonder what rhythms and intensities are reserved for
this. Then comes the distant gate, then a woodpigeon flies
low overhead, each downbeat of its wings making a whistling,
ii - Pink Noise - a little under 1/3 vol. - 3m
Now there is nothing behind me - the low tone, gone. My
sense of hearing now only functions in front of me and to
the sides. Within this field I can still hear things I
cannot see, but my hearing has a periphery as does my
In this peripheral zone, sounds take on a human quality:
they are indistinct, but my ears push the possibility that
they are of human origin to the front of the list of
potential sources. A fly a few metres away, one or two farm
animals calling out rhythmically, the distant gate - all at
first are voices, and then somewhow revealed not to be.
A large, low, white cloud approaches below a distant sky. It
brings the noise back into presence by endorsing it - it
could too easily be the sound of the cloud, distant,
barrelling, churning but without parts. The noise becomes
the cloud's inverse, and the fact of the cloud's silence is
accentuated and made anomalous.
iii - White Noise - full vol. - between two bushes, hidden
in the grass.
I simply stand and try to think through its incongruity. To
my ear it has a speed to it that sets it apart - too much
motion, too much energy to adhere to the landscape, and so
it plunges a hole in the floor, with far more force than it
did at Kelston.
Severn Way, between Oldbury
i - Pink Noise - 1/3 vol. - 8m away on a long straight
At this distance, this noise kicks and hisses and
pulses, knocked about by the wind. The volume, tone and
timbre are all sculpted into jaunty rhythms on the edge of
If I walk another metre away, the sound is lost altogether,
if I move closer it settles into a constant. I must sit
Two things happen as the wind rises above a certain
threshold: the sound from the speaker is disrupted and
degraded further into bitty bursts, and as it degrades the
wind also brings into voice a nearby cornfield, which
creates an almost indistinguishable noise to one the lost.
Pink noise leaps through the air from the speaker to the
cornfield and back, and from the speaker to the cornfield
ii - White Noise - full vol. - 1m away.
I can now be among the trees and the fields in silence.
I can't hear the roar of the Severn Bridge.
I can't hear the tractor's pushy engine.
I can't hear the swarms of flies that dance around the
All is still.