Cantata for Nightingales, Building, Furnaces and Electronics – Museleon – December 2021

I was very privileged to be selected along with 11 other local artists to be involved in the  National Glass Centre’s Artist Exchange project in conjunction with Sunderland Culture, this November 2021. There were four different series of workshops including screen printing, flameworking, glass casting and stained glass making. I selected Screen Printing on Glass with glass artist Jade Tapson as I thought that it would fit more with my art.

Whilst at the glass centre, I had access to the workshops and corridors, and being primarily an audio artist I recorded as much as I could. General ambiences, glass blowing, machinery, glass cutting, the furnaces as well as all the process of creating a screen print on glass. I also wandered around the Glass Centre capturing the sounds of the public spaces, as well as the outside of the building.

During this past year there has been an increasing focus on nature, as people became more aware of the sonic world around them, especially during the lockdowns. This was especially true when it came to birdsong and field recording has become the new go to hobby, as smartphones were employed to record the seemingly slower pace of life. Amongst all the birdsong, I came across a beautiful recording of a Nightingale by emilykhemp via Freesound and thought I might combine it with some of the sounds I recorded at the National Glass Centre to try something different.

These two elements became the basis of Cantata for Nightingales, Building, Furnaces and Electronics.

A Cantata  originates from the Italian, cantare, meaning to sing, and is –

“ a composition for one or more voices usually comprising solos, duets, recitatives, and choruses and sung to an instrumental accompaniment”

Here, my Cantata consists of eight nightingales in solo, duet and chorus, some with added electronics and the instrumental accompaniment is in the underlying sounds of the building – distant voices, glasswork, ambiences, electrical frequencies and static. The final quartet is a recording of the furnaces in the Glass Centre demonstration area, pared down to four frequency harmonic tones. 

I’m not sure what Bach would have made of it but to me there is a beautiful Baroque element to this piece.

The artist exchange has been very inspirational and the beauty of glass and the processes of creating it are finding their way into my art. The accompanying digital artwork to this post is called Glass Sea and it was inspired by the colours, textures, glass bubbles and layering of glass as well as the natural beauty of the coastline.

Many thanks to emilykhemp on Freesound for the use of her field recording Nightingale_Demark This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.