borders #2

 

 

Introduction and first stages

 

This project was developed from a score from the first collection of pieces (borders #1): walk alone / along the edge of town / listen to the sounds inside and outside the town simultaneously. The first realisation of this piece took place on Ladies Walk, a two-mile path that lies on, and overlooks the south-eastern edge of my home town of Andover.

 

Forming out of these realisations, the idea to 'exhaust' Ladies Walk, and the surrounding area, through walking, listening and recording started to take shape. Inspired by Paul Whitty's somewhere a field project, in which the composer attempted to research the sound properties and environments of a field in Devon, I wondered if taking a similar approach to a place on the edge of town might seem suitable to develop a project that dug deeper and into more detail about the overarching themes and ideas of borders as a whole. Starting to make (static) recordings along the walk and the surrounding fields, over a period of time, I found it challenging to come up with a conclusive formula, or set of rules, from which to frame and 'give a reason to' the exhaustion of this location. Along with each recording I made a small journal entry, with times and dates, and sometimes descriptions of the sound experiences, and thoughts relating to the project's themes (of outsiderness and the in-between, and solitude), which helped link the recordings when ordering and sorting them. Through the repetition of visiting and recording the same locations, and through the repetition of carrying out the same act over a matter of weeks, I started to find myself uninspired by this process ('Wednesday, off to Ladies Walk again, let's record at this place...why am I doing this again?'). During this time, I found footage of a talk given by Whitty which he explained why he considered somewhere a field a failure. He stated that in order to properly exhaust a place, he would have to be in that place for an extended period of time, perhaps living at that location, potentially for years, with better recording equipment etc. I wondered if I may come to, or may be starting to come to, similar thought processes. Why, then, was I doing it? Yes, the location and soundworld were applicable to the ideas and concepts that define the project, but I had started to find it an 'empty' experience, which only got worse as time went on, and I could not figure out why. So, if exhaustion was an 'impossibility', as Whitty stated in a Q&A after his talk, perhaps it was not the right methodology for this new-forming project. Reading back through my PhD proposal, I had realised that exhaustion was not what I wanted to do, neither did I think this was apt. The word that made more sense, to me and for the project as a whole, was 'exploration'.

 

Although exhaustion in this context is certainly a form of exploration, the latter term widened the scope for the ideas of this new project, aesthetically, physically and geographically. Instead of focusing in on one location, one edge, I decided to expand the project to several locations, broadening out the geography and the site specificity to contain a multiplicity of locations, and edges, into one whole edge, the edge of town. Instead of exhausting an edge (why this part of town? Why only Ladies Walk? Why does this location particularly seem applicable to borders?), why not explore the edge. Explore the edge of where town meets countryside, where urban meets rural, and with potentially a more varied set of locations; industrial estates, housing estates, lakes, wooded paths, hoping to include as many different aspects of what there is on the edge of a town as I could. Some of these locations I knew would be familiar to me, others would not be, others would be somewhere in-between familiarity and unfamiliarity. I thought that this may give a sort of neutrality to the project, and walking, recording and listening to Ladies Walk seemed much more palatable now that it was part of a larger whole.

 

 

 

Starting to take form

 

During one session in Ladies Walk, on the sixth day (and therefore sixth week) of the initial part of the project, my journal entry was simply:

 

“No recordings

 

The rain is so light and sparse that it hardly makes a sound

 

Lost for ideas”

 

I remember stopping halfway along the walk, sitting on a bench, writing this, with what seemed like an empty head. This was a turning point of the project. Around this point, I had started to think about what this project actually was; was it a recording project (was a potential collection of recordings 'the work'), was it a project about walking, a soundwalk, was it just for me/was it going to be for a potential audience? What was important to me at this point was to carry on with what I was doing; walking, listening (to the environments and my thoughts) and recording. I knew at least by this point that my own experiences were going to form and inform the work. Day (week) seven was the last time I visited Ladies Walk, until returning later once the project was taking on more of its expanded, solidified shape.

 

Finally, walking through and via Ladies Walk, I started to expand the action of the work out and beyond to different areas around Andover. The strip of Ladies Walk certainly has its own generally unchanging soundscape, defined by the rustling of leaves and trees, birdsong, and the constant backdrop of white noise from the A303. So naturally, I started to discover a wider variety of sound experiences – some man-made, some natural, and almost always intertwining together along the semi-imagined circumference of the edge of Andover. From this initial expansion, the project itself started to take on more of a form, a bit more shape, an on-going experiential piece that involved walking, listening, recording, and always alone. I started to imagine myself as a kind of solitary satellite orbiting the town – the work itself was the orbit, where I would obviously return back to everyday life in the interim, and launch out again towards the edge when starting a new session, semi-improvising and finding a new orbit.

 

 

First experiences and walks

 

The first of these sessions took place at several separate locations: two different corners of the town, the north-east and north-west corners, both on the edges of different industrial estates, and one on the east side of Ladies Walk.

 

When reaching the north-east corner, via Walworth industrial estate, I set up the recorder and listened to the environment. A final road on the town's edge, before fields, lies under a small tunnel, on top of which lies the railway. Through the other side of the tunnel is Finkley Down Farm, a small farm open to the public, and is mainly aimed at young children.

 

It is mid-morning as I record in front of the car park, families occasionally make their way from the cars to the farm, with excited chatter from children. The crows call out from behind in the mid-distance from the trees on the railway edgelands, and the infrequent explosion of rush from the trains over-head flatten and overwhelm the soundscape – a violent interruption that contributes, albeit unsubtly, to the varied and largely quiet-yet-vibrant sound environment. The field recording of this location itself has since become one of my personal favourites that I have made, due to the variety within the soundscape itself – the crows give a kind of depth to the environment/recording due to their distance; the people are occasional and not crowded, they trickle in and out of the soundworld; the trains give a huge dynamic range to the location; the distant white noise of traffic from the industrial estate and the town gives a steady background that remains a constant. I am delighted with the variety of sounds, giving the environment itself a state that seems to be in-flux; balanced-yet-not-quite, active-yet-quiet, an environment settled in its unsettled-ness.

 

After making this recording, I walked back via Ladies Walk, the intended destination being the north-west corner, and listened on the east side of the walk from a field that overlooks the south entrance of Walworth.

 

A soundscape that frequently occurs on the edges, especially Ladies Walk, is that of distant traffic droning. From other areas on the walk, the A303 (from behind, the south side of the town) is a constant backdrop, however here this typical keynote sound is from the town itself, from the edges where A roads leave and enter the town, and from the busyness of the industrial estate. From listening and recording at this point, the different layers of white noise reveal themselves. It is not just a blanket static sound, the drones weave and intermingle, from differently pitched vehicles and roads, different timbres, and carried around by the wind – some drones are fragile, broken, others are more oppressive. From this distance, standing in a foreground bubble of near-silence in the field, it is clear to hear this over-activity of traffic sounds. A lorry will occasionally appear, clear and heavy, from the messy white noise as it leaves the town for the A303 – behind me, from the trees that frame Ladies Walk, a variety of crows, blackbirds, robins and other small birds provide a subtle-yet-clashing backdrop against the town traffic. An aircraft flies overhead, with its own descending drone that is not too out of place from road traffic – like the lorry that leaves the white noises, the aircraft seems to reveal itself from the layers of grey drones, at once obscured by the noise, becoming more clear as it climbs overhead – almost as if the aircraft itself had taken off the one of the main roads. With this distance brings a perspective that brings clarity to the sound environment; too close to these main roads would blanket out the environment with heavy foreground vehicles, too far would make the drones mesh together – making a purer, stiller white noise, one that the layers of which a more difficult to hear. In the distance, over the industrial estate and before newly-built suburbs, a train flies on the railway line; the violent explosive rush from the corner next to Finkley Down Farm is now nearly impossible to hear. Two different soundworlds, two different experiences, two different recordings, both experienced within an hour of each other. (As a side note, the recording from this location on the east side of Ladies Walk is also one of my favourites that I have made.)

 

I continued walking westward round Ladies Walk, through town, and up to the north-west corner of Portway industrial estate.

 

A more immediate soundscape, made up of foreground traffic, including heavy vehicles, the drone of an office ventilation system (which becomes more noticeable when it suddenly shuts off), and in the distance and during breaks in the traffic, a football team practising from the sports centre – occasional shouts from the players and, albeit subtly, the thuds from the football's contact with ground or foot. A more abrasive sound environment than the previous two, and one with which I have no personal connection, no memories, I am more pleased with the fact that I had now gone to three different locations, made a recording in each, and three different experiences, and a round trip of about a ten-mile walk.

 

The project was now in flow, and I would go on to choose other locations with no formula, a little randomly, scouting areas first before walking and recording proper. I was intrigued to see what the experiences had on offer, how sound environments may differ, what I may end up discovering, and what may happen to my memories. However, I thought that it is all good walking, listening and recording, but I still needed to do/think of something else to bind the experiences together.

 

 

Progression

 

As the project was progressing, I started to think about what it actually was. I had started to realise that the act of walking and listening – my experiences, along with making the recordings – was the piece itself. It was a work that was made and experienced in-the-moment; in a way, the act of composing was the initial scouting and walks to and through locations along the edge of town, the composition was the final act of walking, listening and recording in these locations (I had worked in each location at least twice). I found it a rewarding experience detaching myself from the everyday, experiencing it from the edge, between the two worlds of town and beyond, thinking, feeling and recording, before coming back to the everyday and its relative mundaneness. These were not simply just walks out into the edge of the countryside – these were walks that were informed by the sound environments, my own memories, my own unfamiliarity with some surroundings, and a deep experience with my own solitude.

 

Whilst walking along the edge of Andover, experiences were, naturally, varied. A challenge that arose during this project, and for previous projects and the research as a whole, is how to actually define what 'the edge' is. For example, in the north-east area of the town, much construction of new housing estates was taking place and is on-going. When taking initial walks, I was interested to listen to the sound environment of being within a half-completed housing estate, and the sounds of construction work in the foreground and background. This is a sound environment which I have associated in the past and since as definitively liminal – 'the edge' has yet to be completed and concrete, it is itself still in a liminal state, it is not quite yet a defined edge, it is still in formation. After returning to this location again a few weeks later, to listen and make recordings, I found that the sound environment had changed drastically – it was much quieter and not as chaotic as it was before. This was because either a lot of the construction had been completed or had paused. Although I did not make a recording during this session, I found it interesting that in this location and places like it, the sound environment itself is so changeable and undefinable that I could not rely on experiencing or recording exactly what I was looking for. However, I had subsequently found a similar environment to the south of this location, and had managed to record the sound of construction that I was looking for. From this, I learned not to rely on sound sources and environments for my work, but to accept and adapt with the changeability and liminality that the exploration and experiences would encounter.

 

During the initial stages before the project had started to take shape, I had begun to insert my voice into the recordings (speaking on location), in an attempt to describe thoughts and feelings that linked the sound experiences to outsiderness, in-betweenness, and solitude. I had only lightly planned what to say, and most of the spoken parts were made on the spot, at the time of recording. However, I found these recordings difficult to work with. Perhaps hindered by the fact that I don't enjoy listening to my own voice (who does?), I wondered if it was too direct, too 'centred on me', and too stream-of-conciousness for potential listeners. Although interesting, as it was the first time I had done this, I found that talking into the microphone whilst recording was an awkward and slightly unpleasant experience, and interrupted my own experiences of walking and listening – worrying too much about what I was going to say, about how I was going to sound etc. So surely some kind of text may be a better option to convey and suggest the ideas and experiences, and better for the final/ongoing presentation of the project. As the project progressed, I started to write short texts that supported the walks and listening experiences. They were an attempt to suggest the themes of borders from thoughts that originated from the walks themselves. I would write drafts of these texts on my phone at the time of making the recordings, in order to capture ideas as they came, then edited and finalised them when working on the recordings at home. These texts were designed to help any potential listener, and myself, link the recordings with a suggested emotional and/or thought process to my own experiences of the walks. Instead of just making an archive of raw recordings, I hoped that these texts would bind the project together into a more solidified project, running the themes of borders throughout. As I created more texts and recordings, I imagined that the texts themselves would act as title, caption and description, and perhaps be an amalgamation of those things, lying somewhere in-between their usage.

 

 

Memories

 

During the first session, on the walk towards the north-east corner and Finkley Down farm, walking through Walworth industrial estate, I passed by a factory that I worked in during a summer around a decade ago (at the time of writing). I had not set foot in this area of the town since then (I've had no reason to) and naturally this brought back memories that I had not thought about for years (again, I've had no reason to reminisce). With those memories, of course, comes music, music that I still listen to, and music that occasionally follows my memories as I walk around the town. For example, I first listened to the virtual band Gorillaz when working at this factory, and have enjoyed their music since. These memories are a little faded now; they are not shaped, but more sensations, and memories of the music that I used to listen to helps with these experiences, naturally.

 

I found it interesting to discover these memories and past feelings when walking through the business park; who comes to an industrial estate to reminisce? Without the ideas and themes of this project, however, it would have been unlikely that these memories would have come to the surface. This has been a significant part of the research project as a whole, walking around the edge of town, drawing out these past experiences, and for borders #2 especially. Attempting to listen to my memories and the surrounding environments simultaneously was a challenging yet enjoyable experience (this experience is linked with a score from borders #1). I like the idea that being on the edge of town also puts me on the edge of my memories; the outer and inner environments are interlinked and intertwined. My own memories of my life in the town have followed me around whilst carrying out the full research project, and have played a big part in some experiences. borders #2 has brought out this memorizing more to the forefront than borders #1. Even in locations that I had never been to before had a strong impact on thinking about my past and my relationships with places. The entrance to Ladies Walk, on the south edge of the town, is very close the house I grew up in during my first fourteen years or so. Understandably, this past home has occasionally been in my dreams since, and when visiting the location of Ladies Walk, thoughts and memories are stirred.

 

Whilst listening and recording in a field just outside the north edge of the town, I experienced an overlapping of memories. First walking through a housing estate to the location, I passed a house that my dad used to live in, which I used to go to every weekend with my brother. I had not been to this estate, called Saxon Fields, since he moved from there, and in fact had not really thought about it since. Finally reaching the field, recording the drones from the main road, I remembered that in the fields beyond I used to help out a gamekeeper, as well as occasionally taking part in 'beating' days during hunting seasons. I have not participated in these sorts of activities now for many years; I had lost interest and since then my attitudes have changed. But whilst recording I found I was in-between both locations, and both forms of memories as they overlapped. It was a part of my past that I do not find myself thinking about a lot, so it was nice to visit these past experiences. I wondered how my life would have been if I had made different choices; 'if I had stayed within that industry and trained to become a gamekeeper, would I be standing here now, experiencing this? Would I be making this project, would I have studied music, would I have become a composer?' I must add that I did not dwell on these thoughts, but rather let them grow and fade away, pass through me, and accept and experience them as they came and went. Like passing though the industrial estate with the factory that I used to work in, carrying out this composition project opened up places in my past that I had since forgotten or not thought about, reformed memories, and helped me solidify my relationship with my hometown – the town weaves through me as much as I weave through it.

 

 

Further experiences

 

Wednesday: Leave home by half-past eight in the morning, grab breakfast on the way to the chosen location(s), walk, listen, record, write text, return home by half-past two in the afternoon to edit recordings and texts.

 

This became, broadly, a more rigorous routine for me to carry out the work. For six hours, or there abouts, I would dedicate my time to being out in the field to carry out the research, exploration and the composition. During this time, I became accustomed to getting into the mindset of the project, visiting places that I knew well and those that I did not. There was no real formula or sequence for choosing locations (such as simply moving clockwise around the town, for example), but I would view the satellite image of the town and visit places that I felt were worth exploring, usually going to two or three locations that were in relative close proximity. Obviously there were some failures: perhaps some places, I thought, were not applicable to the project, or that I found uninteresting (sometimes depending on my mood), or others like the construction site of the new housing estate as described previously. And to get to those places on the edge of town, I would usually walk through locations such as suburbs and business parks that lie on the fringes, weaving through streets and finding openings to the intended destinations – many of these passing locations I had not been to before.

 

Sometimes I would question my being in/walking through some locations: 'Who walks through a suburban housing estate with no business being there, only to stand on the edge of it to listen? I have not been here before, never had a reason to, I have no one to visit in this location of houses and homes.' An example of this was during a session that took place on the north-west edge of Charlton, a village on the outskirts of Andover that has for decades now joined up with the edge of Andover itself – it is hard to tell where Andover ends and Charlton begins. Walking through Charlton lakes and its surrounding fields, through a housing estate, I set up the microphone in a small edgeland field and began to record/listen to the environment.

 

Shotguns firing off in the distant fields behind me, a typical sound of the surrounding rural fields, and the far-away drones of distant traffic of the main roads of Charlton and Andover, whilst being accompanied in my foreground by the soft and numerous chirping and tweeting of the small birds that crowd the line of trees behind me. To my left, the very last houses of the town before miles and miles of countryside, fields and scattered woodland; their six-foot garden fences marks the very line where Charlton/Andover ends – the thin line of the edge. But standing and listening in this location, I imagine that the inhabitants of the houses could see me and were wondering about what I am doing. They had never seen me before – I do not live in this area of town, perhaps they would be slightly disturbed by an unfamiliar individual standing still in an unkempt field, alone in the breeze. I realise that in this unfamiliar location, I was bringing my own unfamiliar-self to it. Yet in the distance in front of me, I can see Charlton park that I used to visit a lot in my formative years, and I can hear the drones of the town and the edge of the A303 that have been with me for much of my life, whether I realised it or not. And behind me, the sounds of shotguns popping that I have had first-hand experience with up-close during my teenage years. Familiarity is distant but clear in image and sound; surrounding my amiable unfamiliarity that is in my relative close proximity of the immediate surrounding area.

 

After finishing my time recording and listening in this location, I decided to walk behind the houses to my left, north-eastwards towards a field which was to be my next destination. Once again, I imagined that in this place only the people who lived here go, if at all. It was a thin, grubby path that on my right side had the six-foot fencing and gates that edged people's back gardens, and to my left was a small wire fence that separated Charlton/Andover from the fields and countryside. This path was a small, thin line of the immediate edge of town; there was no doubt that this was where Andover ended, stubbornly and suddenly. I doubt that people did not even walk their dogs here, if only to walk through and out onto a more applicable route. This was the kind of place where teenagers would bring in their bicycles late at night after meeting with friends, where cats would prowl the fences and find refuge in exploring through the dirt and through holes in the wire fence, where foxes would stroll in peacefully at night from the countryside and into gardens to find scraps, and small birds would congregate in the over-hanging trees which bent the fencing and darkened the path.

 

A narrow threshold where urban meets countryside, and where people live their everyday lives unaware of the activity that may occur on the path; unaware that I am walking down it and enjoying an experience of liminality, quiet and solitude just outside their homes – detached from their lives, just on the edge of the everyday of urban and rural life, of human and non-human.

 

Through progressing further with the project, I found that the act of my own walking, listening and recording became the piece itself – a composition that only occurred when I was doing it, that only I could experience as I experienced it. The recordings, texts and supporting photographs (I took pictures of each location) were becoming a document of the existence of the piece, an archive of experiences that I could later re-experience through these materials, and potentially others could too.

 

 

Underpasses: liminal frontiers

 

Since beginning the research/composition project, during walks and recording sessions, I have found that underpasses (or overpasses) are notable points that mark where the edge of the town ends and the countryside begins. The soundworlds of these locations are coarse and harsh, loud and oppressive, especially within the short, in terms of distance, and usually wide tunnels themselves. The characters of these underpasses vary throughout the town, and underpasses which are main roads themselves can be unpleasantly loud, especially when listening to them for a period of time. The thick walls-of-sound from vehicles travelling through these underpasses reverberate off the large, ugly concrete walls that line in parallel with the roads, as well as the equally ugly ceilings – the undercarriage of the A roads and motorways that crossover above. These are the noisiest locations of the edges of town, a final explosion before diminishing slowly into the countryside. The white-noise from the A roads and motorways themselves are the main backdrop to most of the countryside, not noise from the town itself. Once coming close to these underpasses and out into the countryside, the sound of the town is no longer audible; continuously contained within this wall of white-noise that circles the town.

 

There are other underpasses, however, which can only be traversed through by foot, leaving the traffic noise from above to hang in the air surrounding the location. These places are usually surrounded by edgeland trees and paths, dark and slightly unkempt, areas of the town which seem to have not been developed or maintained since these underpasses were first built. In these locations, such as the south of the town just past the entrance to Ladies Walk, the voicings of small birds pierce through the wall of sound – a clash where urban sound meets rural. The foliage here is dark and wild (wild for a town in south England), and the old trees on the steep banks overhang the wide, grey-brown gravel path (in fact an old road that used to link Andover to Winchester over a hundred years ago which continued from Old Winton Road, Winton being an archaic name for Winchester), which eventually leads out from under the A303 an turns into a bridleway that stretches and cuts across the countryside and eventually to Harewood Forest.

 

Walking through this location, including the before and after, Old Winton Road's asphalt transforms into the gravel path, before turning into a rural bridleway. The road itself goes through a transitional state, not necessarily in time but in space, a sort of transitional object, and it is here with the underpass that the road is in a static liminality. Here, it is not of the same material of the residential road that lies to the north of it, nor is it the country path that continues southward, but caught between these two states. It seems 'forgotten' about; it has not caught up with the modernisation of the town, nor has it turned into a scenic part of the countryside. I remember when I first ventured onto this part of the old road, coming down from a path from one of the steep banks that lines up parallel with the A303, it was almost as if I could here the clopping and rattling of a horse-and-carriage that no doubt still hangs in the location's memories, from over one-hundred years ago – a link between the past and the present, and at one stage, as the A303 was being built, the future. There's no doubt that this location would have sounded like a more typical rural backdrop before the A road came, and brought in with it the loud white-noise of urban expansion and travel.

 

The latter kinds of these underpasses lie at liminal states, where the town ends and countryside begins, and their soundworlds are typically unsettled and harsh, as if the urban is having one last laugh before the rural sets in. These underpasses represent a final frontier before the rest of the world, marking the end of place before unending space, a relatively small point of transition, whether it be via road or path, motor vehicle or foot. These locations also contain signs of outliers and outsiders, whose activities are pushed to the edges of towns; the druggy graffiti that lines the walls of a lot of underpasses, and is not painted over by the council unlike in more central areas, the dirt bikes that travel under them to get to a dirt track amongst the fringe, where people walk their dogs towards the green of the countryside, and where I spend some time to listen and to these locations that are clear marks of the edge of town and countryside. These places are usually unpopular, if only to travel through; these places are not usually destinations of interest or attended to. But they are clear representations of the end of one location and the beginning of another; places of transition that have their own unique soundworld of oppressive urban and clashing rural.

 

 

Findings – the liminal and the edge combined

 

Liminality is a challenging subject to define, especially in the context of this project. I hope that my attempts at exploring the edge of town contribute to the notion of what is liminal, in terms of sound environments and the experiences of these environments. There is a wide variety of different environments: the loud and oppressive underpasses, usually grubby locations that on the face of them do not come across as points of interest; the quietude and relative stillness of some places, such as the north-west corner where the Harrow Way path cuts through Portway industrial estate, a bridleway enclosed by trees which hides between the warehouses and office buildings; to the south, where the droning, oppressive backdrop of the A303 flies over a small edgeland woodland, wild and unkempt, and continuously duels/duets with a small flowing steam that connects to the River Anton – the flowing of the urban and the rural respectively, where the two states meet and clash with similar-yet-different characteristics; the distant soundworld of the urban, experienced best in the fields by Ladies Walk, where the grey urban drones of traffic spill into the quiet countryside, a place of green grass, proud trees and numerous birds – two different states, yet connected by the sounds of the town that travel into the countryside. These are just a few examples of the variety of sound experiences of the liminal and the edge, where urban meets rural, where town ends and countryside begins.

 

Walking to, through, and from these locations presents its own liminality. As mentioned before, leaving the everyday to put the project into practice, knowing that I would return once the excursion was over, a liminal state is formed for the work to be actualised. Passing through locations, listening to these environments, attending to experiences, creating and shaping the piece itself; as much as the work is about place and space, it is contained within time, and through my own solitary experience. Liking myself as a lone satellite in orbit around the town, both physically detached from the nature of the everyday, yet linked to it via listening, recording and experience, sometimes from a close proximity (within the imagined line of the edge, like underpasses or industrial estates), or observing from a place further out (the expanded edge, such as Ladies Walk or the immediate countryside fields), I felt as if my own solitude simultaneously connected me to, and disconnected me from the everyday and the rest of the world. The outsiderness that I felt was both physical and psychological, influenced by my own memories and my own sense of identity, yet never fully cut-off that I could not return to daily life within the town. These solitary walks allowed me to experience the passing, changing environments as I moved through them; a suburb that turns into a business estate, the edgeland paths that create links between different areas such as these, and the tarmac and asphalt roads that turn into gravel and dirt that turn into the grassy country paths and bridleways. Also, the passing of sound environments, where the quiet suburbs and their infrequent foreground traffic change into a different kind of quiet of the business estates, and where the overwhelming busy roads turn into the layered and broken drones as the physical distance from them stretches the sound environment out into the fields.

 

Linking in with these experiences are my own memories that shift around the town, sometimes familiar, sometimes unfamiliar, and otherwise in-between. Some of these locations connect my past memories with the present, places that I have frequented in the past and that I still visit. Other locations I had never set foot in before, such as the fields just beyond the north of Finkley Down farm, or the newly-built housing estate of Augusta Park to the north of the town, some of which is still in construction. At the time of writing, I now have new memories since discovering these places, of my relatively recent experiences from carrying out this project. Layers of memories from events and non-events that have occurred in the recent past or further back, even before I ever thought about pursuing music or composition. From this, with the aid of the different forms of memorizing, my internal thoughts connect with the external sound environments of these locations, where the self and the world meet, and these memories and feelings represent the liminal state where the inner and outer worlds collide.

 

 

Final thought

 

The final walk and recording session took place on the edge of a small farmland field to the south-west of the town, the in-between land before Andover meets the nearby villages of Upper Clatford and Abbots Ann. There was a thin fog, towards the end of Winter, and I was surrounded by a semi-busy country road to my near-immediate right, the A343 to the west of the field, that links up with the A303 trunk road to the north of the field. It's strange to think, as common as this is, that the sound environment of this field is totally defined by the busy roads that surround it. The soundworld of the field is that of the droning, oppressive traffic that physically surrounds it and audibly contains it. If I were to take a photograph of the field without recording the experience of the sound environment that defines it, one may imagine a quiet area with tweets and chirps from swallows and other such birds, and maybe a small breeze snaking through the grass and distant trees. This, obviously, is not the case. Sound, certainly in this case, defines the reality of my experience of this environment much more than image. However, the same may be true of the other way around – if I were to only present a recording of the location, without an image, one may think of this location as an urban area such as an industrial estate. The two forms need to come together to communicate the experience as fully as possible – this is how the project itself has been presented. The texts that also support these recordings came from my own experiences of the locations; it is an attempt to put across my own solitary experiences into the record of the project, the record and presentation of borders #2. Not only do these recordings present the sound environments of these locations, but more importantly demonstrate that someone has experienced these locations, specifically that I have experienced these locations in an attempt to explore the liminality of the edge of a town, where urban meets rural, through the experience of solitude. Experience, certainly in the context of this project, is the liminal state between imagination and reality.

 

Oliver Ginger

2020