The New Forest Tape Collage

Sound Art Composition

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.

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