Commoning Voices

The following URL takes you to a specific page on realnewforest, the website of the Commoners Defence Association (or CDR for short). It provides the unique chance to hear the voices and interesting perspectives of some of the New Forest Commoning community

Commoning Voices

My Newforestsounds website’s main focus is on environmental sounds rather than interviews, and so I thought that this would be of interest in helping you to understand more about the ways of The New Forest. You’ll notice that the commoners talk about the annual Point to Point races, and also the Beaulieu Road ponysales. My own sounds that aim to bring these events to life can be enjoyed by clicking the links below:

https://newforestsounds.co.uk/2020/03/30/ponysales/

https://newforestsounds.co.uk/2020/03/30/point-to-point/

To have the right to be a commoner (someone who farms the forest by putting out livestock on it) depends solely upon the “occupation” of a piece of land with common rights. Most land with rights is lost to commoning, often with the owners unaware of the rights, so the land that is still occupied by commoners is of great importance.

The secret of the survival of the New Forest landscape has been its defence by commoners over centuries. Large areas of the New Forest were lost to development, but the fact that so much remains bears powerful testimony to the commoners’ willingness to speak truth to power and stand up for this special place.

Commoning is the essential element that sustains not only its special cultural heritage, but also its landscape, biodiversity, and accessibility. The Commoners Defence Association was established in 1909, at a time when threats to this traditional form of land management, were rising once again, and continues to work in support of commoners and their animals grazing on the open Forest. It remains as important as ever, and does an extraordinary amount of work, especially given that it is run by volunteers and funded by its members’ subscriptions. To find put more, and to support the important work of the CDA, visit realnewforest.org

The Hunt Meeting

Soundscape Recording

The sounds of the New Forest Hounds meeting at the Rhinefield House Hotel, before starting their day of hunting using a scent trail, (thus, no foxes are harmed in case you’re wondering)….

During the main hunting season, which typically runs from early November to the end of February, the hunt will meet Tuesday and Saturday mornings at 10.45am. The meet will either be in a forest car park, or it will be by invitation at a private house, hotel or pub. These are referred to as lawn meets, and it is customary at these for participants to enjoy a small tipple before setting off.

Once the meet is over, usually after 20-30mins, the huntsman will sound his horn and move off with hounds to the first covert where he will cast his hounds and encourage them to search for their quarry.

Sometimes the trail may be found immediately, and the chase begins in earnest, or the huntsman may have to move on from covert to covert, recasting his hounds several times before a trail is found.

The unpredictability of hunting is one of the elements that adds to its appeal. Once the hounds are on a scent, they “give tongue” or “make music”, and once the hounds have left the covert, the field master will lead the mounted field in hot pursuit.

Once on a run, the control which the huntsman has over his hounds, and the respect and trust the hounds have in the huntsman, is a pleasure to behold. A run may be brief and fast if scent is good, or it may be long and slow with hounds having to work hard to keep on the line. In any event, the huntsman will re-cast, and the day will go on until 3 or 4pm. (Based on information from newforesthounds.co.uk. Visit the site for more details and an absolutely fascinating history that dates back 900 years!).

Munch

Soundscape Recording

This is actually one of our famous New Forest ponies recorded close-up, munching grass. Did you know that the ponies are often referred to as the architects of the forest, because by doing all this munching, they keep the grass looking short and mowed? Without them, much of the forest would soon become an impenetrable wilderness.

The County Show 1

Sound Art Composition

An electronic concerto for six country pursuit commentators, stationary engine and analog step-sequencer. The source field recordings used in this work were captured at The New Forest and Hampshire County Show in July 2015, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, England.

Six manipulated commentaries revolving around country pursuits comprising log cutting, showjumping, hunting, dog handling, cattle and sheep competitions form the basis of the composition.  The rhythmic percussion underpinning the piece is generated from field recordings of small, stationary agricultural engines (including the RA Lister and the Wolseley) produced in the early 20th Century.

This differs from The County Show 2, as this version doesn’t have any of the musical elements. It’s built from just the field-recorded sounds this time.

Point to Point

Soundscape.

On Boxing Day each year, the annual point to point races are run across the forest. This piece is built from various individual recordings that I collected near the finishing line one chilly morning. This is a significant social gathering in the New Forest calendar, and it’s exciting!

The event is organised by responsible local officials of the New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society who have wide experience and understanding of the race; usually having raced in it themselves in the past. They have good understanding of the New Forest habitats and special ecological status areas.

The location of the end point is not disclosed until after the closing date for entries about 1st. December. The participants are then told via the New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society website. The location of the start point is not disclosed until the day before the race, and then only to participants.

The children’s races are approximately 1.5 miles escorted by mounted riders. The adult races are approximately 3 miles with mounted stewards along the course.

The County Show 2

Sound Art Composition.

An electronic concerto for six country pursuit commentators, stationary engine and analog step-sequencer. The source field recordings used in this work were captured at The New Forest and Hampshire County Show in July 2015, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, England.

Six manipulated commentaries revolving around country pursuits comprising log cutting, showjumping, hunting, dog handling, cattle and sheep competitions form the basis of the composition.  The rhythmic percussion underpinning the piece is generated from field recordings of small stationary agricultural engines (including the RA Lister and the Wolseley) produced in the early 20th Century.

This version of the piece contains musical elements. Also have a listen to The County Show 1, which features just manipulated environmental sounds without the music.