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Sounds of the Cultural Quarter: some thank yous

Posted: Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:20 by Amy Barnes

Sounds of the Cultural Quarter: some thank yous

By Colin Hyde

One of the features of the Sounds of the Cultural Quarter app is that we have attempted to recreate sounds of the past as well as capturing sounds of the present. Where we haven't been able to do this ourselves we have had to seek help and this blog post is a 'thank you' to all those who have assisted us in the creation of the app. First, thank you to all the individuals who recorded sound on their mobile phones and sent them to us. Second, while other blog posts have thanked Leicester Transport Heritage Trust and Halford Shoes, these are the other organisations and companies who have been so helpful:

Big John's Auto Service for permission to record in the workshop.

Cobra Emergency Videos for permission to use the sound from their video 'Ex-West Mercia Police - Old Ford Transit Van Ride Along - with Two Tones!'. The Cobra Emergency Videos You Tube channel is a gold mine of emergency vehicles.

Institute for Creative Leather Technologies at the University of Northampton for allowing Andrew Hill to record the sounds of their tannery.

Mosaic, for sending us the words and music to the 'Song of the Guild of the Crippled'. Thanks also to Claire Hudson for singing the song.

Music Junkie, Lee Street, for permission to record in the shop.

Pantherella Socks. When we went to record their machinery the BBC came with us.

Queens Street Apartments for distributing our email that resulted in recordings of both Athena and the swimming pool at the Apartments.

St George's Church for permission to record part of a service and Angela Zarac for ringing the bell so enthusiastically.

Steve Inglesant at Leicester's Wholesale Market at Freeman's Common, for permission to record the sound of the market.

Studio 79 for permission to record in their dance studio.

The Leicester Mercury newspaper for recording the sound of their newsroom.

The Shed, for permission to record at the venue.

The Shirdi Sai Baba Temple for allowing us to use music recorded in the Temple.

Torsten Nilsson and his recordings of industrial machines. A remarkable collection that you can experience via You Tube or the Work With Sounds website.

Voyage into the Interior of Volcrepe

Posted: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 11:55 by Amy Barnes

Voyage into the Interior of Volcrepe

By Mark Goodwin

[You can read Mist's Rave - Mark's response to the Affective Digital Histories' Creative Commissions call - on the Centre for New Writing's website here]

Back in May of this year I went on location with my field-recorder to Volcrepe Mill in Glossop. (Glossop nestles itself into the western edge of The Peak District. For some years now, I have imagined this town as an outlying cog of the great engine of Manchester – a cog that grinds against the edge of the gritstone plateau.)

I'm a sound-artist as well as a poet, and so the mission for me was to bring back some sonic textures, as well as some spoken poetry improvised in the moment in response to Volcrepe Mill's derelict building-scape. Derelict buildings hold a fascination for me, and this location – an extensive abandoned rubber mill – is probably the best derelict building I've ever visited. It turned out to be a sound-recordist's dream: the interior of the main building was one huge resonance chamber that picked up and mixed the sounds of jets in the sky, pigeons in the rafters, the gurgle of Glossop Brook, and church bells some miles away.

Decaying buildings are intimidating spaces, and for good reason. It's important to approach such places with close attention to staying uninjured. It's also important to have the right skills – I'm also a rock-climber, and so I'm very used to being careful in potentially threatening places. (I was also not alone on this trip.) So, I first took a recce through the buildings: climbing paint-flake carpeted stairwells; making my way across a rotten wooden floor by balancing along the line of a joist below the boards; moving from one building to the other through an enclosed steel walk way; and exploring the expansive factory floors, empty but for broken glass, cooing pigeons, and rows of ceiling-supporting columns. I was taking careful note of all the dangers; remembering the reliable places to step on and getting my route fixed in my head. I then retraced my steps to outside and had lunch in the May sunshine. Having taken refreshments, I then repeated my dereliction journey accompanied by my trusty, fluffy field-recorder ... and, as I went, I improvised spoken poetry in the moment, sometimes making use of the 'echoey' space.

The produce of my wee adventure – 36 minutes of poetry field-recording – informed and inspired my written poem – Mist's Rave – which you can explore here.

You can take my sonic audio-tour of Volcrepe Mill here.

The poetry field-recording – Glossop Brook & Volcrepe Mill – is very different in form and content to Mist's Rave and although it is not essential to listen to it to gain access to the written poem, it is certainly one half of a duo that meets haunting dereliction and abandoned industry.

Mark would very much like to thank Arts Council England who provided the funds to purchase the fluffy field-recorder that accompanied him on this trip. He is also hugely grateful to the Centre For New Writing and Affective Digital Histories for commissioning Mist's Rave. Mark's latest full-length collection, Steps, which includes a sound-enhanced poetry CD, is very recently published by Longbarrow Press.

Read Mark's blog here.

Photograph: Mark at Volcrepe Mill.

After the Show

Posted: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:12 by Amy Barnes

After the Show

By Colin Hyde

This sound clip was recorded in August 2014 after a performance of Annie at Curve Theatre. It follows people as they leave the theatre, walk to the nearby car park, get the parking tickets processed, climb the stairs, and then exit the stairs into the car park area. The sound changes noticeably as the crowd moves from one place to another on the route. The main edit in the piece is the transition from the crowds exiting the theatre to them walking to the car park.

These are the timings:

0 – 1.10 people leaving Curve
1.11 - 1.47 walking to the car park
1.48 – 2.25 getting the ticket processed
2.26 – 2.59 on the stairs
3.00 – 4.25 in the car park

For many theatre goers this is a common experience. Although it's only a short journey, how many people notice the number of changes in the quality of the sound as they walk out of Curve into the open space of Orton Square, walk along the side of the road having to watch out for traffic, enter the small enclosed concrete entrance to the car park, crowd onto the narrow concrete stairs, and exit into the large open, low ceilinged space of the car park?

Photo of Curve by Colin Hyde (2012).

Visit to Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT)

Posted: Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:50 by Amy Barnes

Visit to Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT)

By Andrew Hill

Recently (2nd August 2014) I headed out of Leicester on the 153 bus towards Kirby Muxloe and Desford. I was on my way to meet Richard Worman and the volunteers of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust and the fantastic buses which they restore and preserve.

One of the key buildings in the Cultural Quarter is the LCB Depot, a former bus depot and control centre of Leicester City Transport (LCT, later Leicester CityBus LCB). Opened on the 9th March 1969, the Rutland Street operating centre was the base of operations for management and logistics of the bus network in Leicester. The company pioneered the use of CCTV television cameras and VHF radios to monitor and communicate between the drivers and control centre, leading to an efficient and flexible service.

This was also the base of operations for all drivers who would sign in and out to begin and end shifts and count up the fares they had collected during the shift. The building had social areas and a cafeteria and was the hub of the bus community allowing drivers to meet and socialise.

Listen to the sound of a Metro Scania bus starting up here.

Out in Desford I was transported back in time by the fantastic and pristine restoration work of the excellent Leicester Transport Heritage Trust members. I swiftly set up my recording equipment and thanks to Richard and his colleagues began to explore the sounds of the buses. Each had its own distinctive voice with unique engine notes and individual hiss and air sounds as the doors swung open.

I had the chance to experience:

  • 1950 Leyland PD2 – a separate conductor and driver for this type of bus with passenger access via the step at the back.
  • 1972 Metro Scania single decker bus – LCT was one of the first companies to employ this type of bus within the UK
  • 1982 Dennis Dominator – specified and part designed by the director of LCT Geoffrey Hilditch, Leicester took a large number of these buses into service. So they would have been a frequent visitor to the Rutland Street depot. Listen to the sound of a Dennis Dominator bus parking here.

Having a chance to hear and record these buses really helped me to envisage the soundscape of the Rutland Street control centre, and the local area, and to understand how important these sounds were to the historical soundscape and how iconic they would have been for the people who worked there.

On entering the tunnel into the depot, drivers would beep their horn to signal their approach. Richard was kind enough to re-enact this for our soundscape. Listen to the sound of a bus entering the depot here.

The Leicester Transport Heritage Trust keep this key element of Leicester heritage alive. While I was there they kindly downed tools while we recorded but are usually undertaking sterling work to restore these iconic vehicles. While re-upholstering a bus seat they
discovered an old LCT bus ticket which they gave to me as a memento.

This recording visit gave me a really tangible sense of this oft forgotten part of Leicester heritage.

Listen to more sounds from the LTHT here.

References:

Image courtesy of LTHT.
Sounds recorded by Andrew Hill
Special thanks to Richard Worman, Leicester Transport Heritage Trust and John Hess.

More Sounds of the Cultural Quarter

Posted: Tue, 05 Aug 2014 21:23 by Amy Barnes

More Sounds of the Cultural Quarter

By Colin Hyde

While I have been pounding the streets of the Cultural Quarter, asking people to record the sounds around them on mobile phones, I have also been doing some recording myself. The best collection of sounds I found today came from the various machines in Halford Shoes at 38 Halford Street. In 1969 this shop was Hartley's Corn Stores (for which we have no sound), but the current business cuts keys, mends shoes, and does engraving too. The machines that do this make a wonderful variety of cutting and grinding noises and this is your guide to the sounds I recorded.

Listen to the recording on SoundCloud.

First, the sound of the doorbell as you enter the shop. Then, the key cutter, the compressor (with the sound of the doorbell towards the end), and the slightly quieter sole and heel press. The much louder finishing machine starts at full pelt but slows down and, finally, the engraving machine rounds it off.

Many thanks to Halford Shoes for allowing me to record in their shop.

If you live, work, or play in the Cultural Quarter why not record a minute or two of the sound around you on your mobile phone and email it to me.

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