Soundscape: Salmon Lodge, A Part of Me

Soundscape: Salmon Lodge, A Part of Me

Joyce’s interview (recorded by Felicity Pine) glows with both a deep sense of rootedness to place and a sheer, simple joy in being out in the landscape and the elements. Her voice is beautifully grained and warm and she relates a wonderful, loving reminiscence of her time living at Salmon Lodge in Oldbury-on-Severn – a house lost to the development of the nuclear power station in the 1960s (it stood just south of the station – a site now occupied by lagoons that hold silt dredged from the station’s tidal reservoir).

I wanted to try and mirror something of Joyce’s bucolic reverie with a piece that made audible some of the simple, gentle beauty of this landscape, and gave some expression to the aspect of time.

I’ve set her voice within a soundscape that shifts perspective, starting from field recordings made at the elevated viewpoint of St. Arilda’s church on the hilltop at Cowhill, recorded late one Sunday afternoon in midsummer with microphones sited both within the hedgerow on the hill and the long grass at the base of the hill – revealing birdsong, insects buzzing as the grass gently blows and church bells ringing out before an evening service. A tractor works in the fields below and aircraft pass above. The piece then moves down to the river’s edge with a slack tide lapping gently around a curved notch eroded in the mud levels south of the power station and swallows darting low across the water. A light summer rainfall towards the end of the piece was recorded from beneath both the surface of the water (using a hydrophone) and the tin roof of a farm building.

Something in that rain makes me think of the patina of crackle on a worn vinyl record and prompted me to also include a close-detailed recording of the ticking / whirring mechanism of an old carriage clock – the only non-landscape sound used here – as a device to make audible the idea of time passing. It seemed to add a resonance and amplify the element of time in both the landscape recordings and Joyce’s nostalgic recollections.

David Howell

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© 2022 A Forgotten Landscape: A Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Scheme.


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