The Stage at Arnolfini - scratch performance of The Barrow

from by Ellen Southern with Chloé Turpin and Leila Gamaz.



Work in progress from our time with the movable props of The Stage (Working Title) working with three Site Singing sites, Over Bridge ('the bridge'), the Bradford on Avon Tithe Barn ('the barn'), and Stoney Littleton long barrow ('the barrow').

The Stage was created by UWE Architecture MA students and The Arnolfini artspace, Bristol, as a participatory space of elements which can be moved and re-combined by performers and the public. We were invited to use the space to re-imagine some of the Site Singing sites, and use the props and acoustics as a testing ground to generate a new live version of the project.

Singers: Ellen Southern, Chloé Turpin, Leila Gamaz.
Thanks to Thomas Sale for the photo.

This audio is from a live scratch performance following our initial session of work in progress in the space. It uses the audio treatment by Chloé Turpin of material made during our first session, in which we took recordings, photos and drawings from the sites in as a starting point.
Hear it here:

We found certain props lent themselves to the three sites of The Bridge, The Barn and The Barrow very well, and we ended up successfully incorporating every single prop in the space. We installed this audio from session 1 within the props and improvised live, inhabiting each site/prop for the duration of the track. We had already decided on some approaches / parameters for each site, based on interactions during field trips and resulting recordings as well as our fist session in the space. These vocal and performative 'roles' were interchangeable between the three of us. They were:

The Bridge: under and over, call and response, a constant (hum / rolling) and passing sounds (derived from traffic around the bridge as well as the rolling sound from the moving prop). The abandoned state of the bridge always inspires a plaintive feel too.

The Barn: the sound of visitors / the public outside, hidden / heard (in the site, you cannot see out much but the voice carries outside to passers by, likewise you feel concealed but someone can enter any time), chant-like harmony (the barn was owned by an abbey), and echo (it has a very unusual multiplistic echo, especially revealed by short sharp sounds and handclaps).

The Barrow: wet sounds (wet stones and also the way drips sound after rain from within the barrow), being under the mound and the intimacy that comes from that, breath (difficulty in breathing while crouched in the barrow), low calls, and a crescendo of voices from an original recording made in the barrow, which feels like an 'apparition' or answer to the calls.

Read the Arnolfini blog article here


from Site Singing at The Arnolfini, Bristol, track released March 20, 2017



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Site Singing Bristol, UK

Use of headphones recommended.


"I am enjoying freeing my voice from any kind of formality or expectation - its more about sound that music at this stage. I am open to music evolving but its nice to just be listening anew - to myself and to the sites and their surroundings" (excerpt from blog entry for Uley and Nympsfield).
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