Sound and vision blog

19 February 2009

Voices of Past and Present

The United Reform Church in Keld, a remote corner of the Yorkshire Dales was brought to life with a sound installation by Kingsley Ash for the 2008 Swaledale Festival.

Kingsley, a lecturer in electronic music at Leeds Metropolitan University,  used old recordings of regional Dales accents from as far back as the 1950’s from Accents and Dialects, melded with more recent recordings made locally by the artist and folk song recordings from the Yorkshire Dales Countryside Museum and the composer’s own field recordings from the area.  The resulting audio sculpture integrated recognisable words with fragments, phonemes, inflections and tones extracted from speech.

“Some of the recordings I made were made with locals whose families had been there a long time, particularly in the remote villages in the top of the Dale.  These people still sounded very much like the old recordings from the British Library.  Generally, though, people are no longer so isolated and their accents are less extreme today.”

The installation was well received, especially in the remote village where it ran for two weeks through the festival.  “People in the village were very interested – it’s not the sort of thing they usually have access to.”

“The idea of juxtaposing old and new recordings came from finding the Accents and Dialects collection on Archival Sound Recordings.  The resource is very good – it’s easy to access and there’s all kinds of material there.  It’s useful not just for this kind of artistic use, but for social research, exploring the changing times we live in, and also for music technology, allowing researchers to compare old and new recordings.”


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