A return visit to the Lady's Well, armed with fiddles, a sound recorder and cameras. I was accompanied by Robin Dunn, and before we left we learnt Archie Dagg's tune 'The Lady's Well'. It was a very blustery day which made recording a little difficult, and as a result a lot of the recordings were unusable as they were distorted by wind noise. The walk to the site was dominated by the effects of the wind, as we explored the unusual landscape caused by trees being uprooted by the wind.
When we got to the site, we were acutely aware of the weather - we quickly became very cold. The amount of clothing we had to wear somewhat inhibited our fiddling playing, as did the numbing of our fingers!! As a result we didn't stay for too long, but we did make a few recordings. We played for a while as a duet, and then I did some improvisation around the Lady's Well tune. Unfortunately we had a bit of a glitch (accidentally pressing pause on the recorder) when I did the first improvisation, so we don't have any record of that, which was a shame as it featured some nice duet sections with the birds! I mixed together various bits of the audio that we recorded, both on the way to the site and at the site, to make a short acousmatic piece.
This piece reflects the disjuncture between the visual and the felt/heard experience of place at the Lady’s Well, an ancient monument near Holystone, Northumberland. Visually the place is calm, tranquil, beautiful – somewhere to relax, to reflect, to be peaceful. But close your eyes and you could be anywhere in the wilds of Northumberland, ears buffeted by heavy winds, exposed skin quickly turning numb. It is an unsettling experience, whereby visual information does not match the embodied experience of being in place. The improvisation around the tune ‘The Lady’s Well’ (written by Archie Dagg) reflects this – it is restless, constantly changing tempo and character. This is further developed within the compositional process, with some unexpected and unsettling changes in dynamic, texture and timbre.
Thank you to Robin Dunn for fiddle playing, audio & video recording and photography.