What did the creation of Lake Windermere sound like?
This is an audio version of a poem I wrote years ago when I was staying in the Lake District. I wrote it in a bothy overlooking Lake Windermere on a cloudy, stormy, rainy day. If you’ve ever been to the Lakes on a day like that you’ll know what I mean. It was all greys and browns and blues and purples and khakis. The sky was a shifting shade of gridelin. I was struck by the raw beauty of the lake. I wanted to imagine how it was created. The force it took for a glacier to carve out the basin of stone, with the mountains circling like sentinels settling into the earth, creating their shape, casting momentous shadows.
And of course, I wanted to imagine how that sounded, had it been possible to hear it. I thought it’d be cool to make a soundscape incorporating the words. I made this audio with my husband.
“So how are we going to do it?” said David.
“Loads of rumbly bass. And a broad spectrum of colour, but not like a Rothko. More chaotic than that. With a sense of massive Salvador Dali melting clocks slowly circling the whole thing in the circular sky. And lots of stone and water and cloud.” I replied.
There was a pause.
“I know exactly what you mean,” he said.
Reader, I’m glad he did.
When I think about audio I always see it visually. And I know how it’d feel if I could touch it.
I wanted this audio to give a sense of primeval energy. The feeling of time was important too; I wanted a percussive heartbeat to suggest the pulsing energy of this fecund earth. I wanted to give the sense that the heavens were arcing over aeons as the landscape was being formed. I wanted it to sound epic, deep, formidable and dark.
As I looked at the lake from my comfy hotel room when I was writing the poem, it seemed so peaceful and completely at odds with the geological violence that had borne it.
The audio took a long time to produce. There are many layers of sound to this track and you might not even be conscious of all of them. But they’re there and were created in all sorts of weird ways: recording our own sounds, taking sounds we already had and altering them, playing instruments, making voice tracks, breathing, scraping metal things. All sorts of random stuff. We had to master it a couple of times as the mix seemed to change when we played it on different devices. We didn’t want it to sound too muddy, or too bright. We also tried listening on headphones and through different types of speakers to make sure we’d achieved the effect we were after.
I hope it’s memorable and I really hope you like it. If you do go to Windermere, I hope you think of this piece. Enjoy 🙂
This audio was created for the HearSay Festival – a fantastic event that celebrates audio in all its forms. I can only give you a 20 second teaser as the full piece must be debuted at the Festival in November. Here’s a snippet.