This composition contains an important message about the benefit of trees in this era of climate change. Did you know that trees purify the air, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants? Each individual tree removes up to 1.7 kilos every year and provides shade from solar radiation. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and the carbon that they store in their wood helps slow the rate of global warming. They reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves. It’s estimated that trees can reduce the temperature in a city by up to 7°C.
Trees host vast microhabitats too. When young, they offer habitation and food to large communities of birds, insects, lichen and fungi. When ancient, their trunks also provide the hollow cover needed by species such as bats, beetles, tawny owls and woodpeckers. One mature oak can be home to as many as 500 different species.
Around the world we’re being encouraged to plant trees. The more that we plant, the better it will be for the environment and us. In the United Kingdom, The Woodland Trust are making it easy and low cost to do just that. Here’s a link to their online shop.
Please kindly pass this post on to your circle of friends through social media and elsewhere, so that we can try to reach out to as many people as possible, explain to them the wonderful benefits of our trees, and perhaps even encourage them to plant one of their own.
St. Barbe, an art gallery and museum in Lymington, on the edge of the forest, asked me to compose and produce a soundtrack to accompany an art exhibition that they were running. It was called Unsettling Landscapes – The Art of the Eerie. Amongst the artworks, there were many paintings of strange eerie trees and dark woodlands. My task was to use these paintings as inspiration for the creation of an hour-long atmospheric, dark music mix. So here it is for you to enjoy. If you’ve ever felt that The New Forest was a bit scary in the deep woodlands, then you’ll get the vibe of this piece straight away. Although it’s unsettling, I think the music is somehow quite immersive and involving at the same time.
It’s best listened to on headphones late in the evening or beyond!
On a windy day, the forest of masts at Lymington yacht marina create their own mournful musical composition, as the breeze blows the metal rigging wires against the aluminium masts on dozens of moored yachts. At times, the wind itself also joins in to add its own, almost voice-like, drone to the proceedings.
For this Sound Art composition, I’ve reverted to long-lost analogue tape recorder techniques, and realised the work entirely on my old Ferrograph 7 reel to reel tape machine; a lovingly restored British recorder from way back in 1968 that was originally owned by the military (see photo above).
This piece is a magnetic tape sound collage… which is just like a visual art collage, but made with sound. You’ll hear lots of different sounds from all over The New Forest, juxtaposed and combined with each other in unexpected ways and brought together to form a snapshot of the landscape and its people in just four and a half minutes. See how many of them your can recognise. Here’s a bit more information on the concept and history of the tape collage in case you’re interested…
While artists have been layering images and incorporating autonomous elements into their work since the advent of paper, collage truly emerged as a medium in its own right in the early years of the 20th century with the Cubist experiments of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The duo coined the term “collage” (from the French verb “coller,” meaning “to glue” or “to stick”) to describe works composed from pasted pieces of colored paper, newsprint, and fabric, considered at the time to be an audacious intermingling of high and low culture. It revolutionized modern art.
The collage concept was later applied to sound; in 1948 two French composers, Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, and their associates at Radiodiffusion et Télévision Française in Paris began to produce tape collages (analogous to collages in the visual arts), which they called musique concrète. All the materials they processed on tape were recorded sounds—sound effects, musical fragments, vocalizings, and other sounds and noises produced by man, his environment, and his artifacts. Such sounds were considered “concrete,” hence the term musique concrète.
Springtime Selection is the first of an occasional, carefully-curated, themed collection from my New Forest Sounds archive. This instalment takes you deep into the forest in Springtime, one of the most sonically interesting of all the seasons.
In Spring, with the bedroom window half-open, I wake up to the beautiful balm of the early dawn chorus of birdsong… and now, you can too!
If you have some quiet time, settle down with a pair of headphones for 20 minutes and enjoy immersing yourself in this soundscape…
Springtime in The New Forest woodlands is something quite magical, because the general birdsong chorus is often punctuated by soloists like the cuckoo, and percussionists like the woodpecker. Come with me and have a listen…
Lastly, I’ve got a piece of my Springtime Sound Art for you. What would it sound like if our New Forest woodpeckers all got together and created a musical arrangement? Well, listen below to find out! This composition uses the manipulated sound of a woodpecker in the woods and features slowed down sounds, delay and a variety of note pitches. I’ve called it “The Woodpecker Variations”.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my little Springtime Collection. Look out for more curated selections from the archive in the future.
This beautiful and iconic forest sound comes from a lone horse and rider accompanied by her dog, passing slowly by early on one deliciously clear and still morning at Aldridge Hill near Brockenhurst, deep in The New Forest.
In case you might be interested, I thought I’d let you know that there’s an album of my ambient music out on general release, and inspired by the beautiful New Forest in winter; the frosty mornings, the mists rising gently above the moors in early morning with the soft wintery sun trying its best to break through and so much more. It’s quite a magical landscape at times.
The album contains some of the pieces that I’ve edited, renamed and used here and there across the New Forest Sounds website. It brings together 12 tracks and aims to offer a gentle natural vibe. Perhaps you may find it nice background music whilst you’re engaged in other things around the house? It’s made to be unobtrusive and to simply add an enjoyable ambient, forest-inspired audio tint to your world, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing.
Anyway, it’s available to stream in all the usual places such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google play and so on. Here’s a link to many of the places that you can find it:
A sound collage made from a variety of noises onboard my little one-man river kayak as I paddled downstream: captured with a small portable recorder safely wrapped in a protective plastic bag, and then combined back at my sound workshop using an audio sampler to form this sound art composition.
The hollow plastic kayak seemed to create, what I felt, was an interesting resonant sound similar to the soundbox of a big musical instrument such as a double bass.
On any sunny, summer afternoon, the two tiny sailing clubs at Keyhaven — The New Forest’s coastal hamlet on the Solent — are filled with people launching their dinghies and floating off for a spin around the sheltered waters. There’s a uniquely tranquil ambience about the little place on days like this. I’ve tried to capture this feel in the composition, which features a combination of natural sounds from Keyhaven along with the music itself.