Listening to Hull’s Bridges

We’re delighted to be working with composer John Stead for the the Open Bridges music commission which will be premiered on 22nd September at the Stage@theDock. It’s going to be amazing and we’re very excited about it.  We’ve known John for a long time, but a chance meeting and effusive conversation in the supermarket aisle one day last year brought our ideas together to form a plan. This week Rich and John visited the bridges at Sutton Road, Stoneferry, Wilmington, Sculcoates, North and Drypool. While John recorded sounds of the bridge movements in action Rich had the chance to take photographs of the bridges rarely seen yet beautiful vistas and mechanisms.

Wilmington Bridge 19.06.2017

Here’s John’s enlightening take on listening to and recording the bridge sounds for his composition:

“Recording material for a piece is always exciting – hunting and searching for new and unexpected sounds. The journey from Sutton Road Bridge to Drypool Bridge has been an extraordinary one via locking mechanisms, traffic sounds, large motors, wonderful reverberant chambers and abutments. The recording of these sounds was done to a create a palette of sounds for the acousmatic Open Bridges piece I have been commissioned to compose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn doing this I use what is called ‘reduced listening’ – a technique of listening to sounds for their own sake, not as a carrier of information, cultural or otherwise, as to when and where it came from etc., or even semantic listening (Morse code for example). Everyone hears a sound differently so whilst there are commonalities in interpretation there are ‘objective’ attributes which are focussed on in reduced listening, much facilitated by the simple act of recording. Repeating a word many times often releases it from its usual meaning as it gradually begins to appear as a sound rather than a word. This approach gives freedom for a ‘sound object’ to be what it is without ‘baggage’ and even take on new meanings and attributes…

There have been some notable sounds; the actuating mechanisms at Stoneferry, the locking mechanisms and phasing sound of the motors at Wilmington, the metal rollers and ancillary sounds of Chapman Street and the large motors and drive mechanisms at North, Drypool and Sutton Road …

These sounds and others collected from nature, public and private realms go to make up the palette of sound material used in the piece.” J.S. 26.06.17

New Music Commission and Music Première

John Stead’s Open Bridges live premiere performance by will be diffused in octophonic sound featuring found sounds recorded from Hull bridges movements and operations. The programme includes rare performances of music concrete work by pioneers of electronic, electroacoustic and acousmatic music – Jean-Claude Risset’s “Elementa” and Francis Dhomont’s “Cycle du Son”.

Friday 22nd September at Hull Stage@The Dock, doors 7.30 pm, tickets £10 from Hull Box Office.

Click link here to visit Hull Box Office for ticket sales

John Stead recording for Open Bridges in North Bridge 19.06.17
John recording North Bridge

John Stead is a multi-award winning and internationally respected composer who has lived in Hull for most of his working life. Best known for light and sound installations, John’s work throughout the UK includes son et lumieres to celebrate the opening of Hull Tidal Barrier and Princes Quay, sacred space installations Day of Light at Lastingham Another Mighty Angel at York’s NCEM ‘Fractals’ at Hull City Hall gained a Holst Foundation Award in 1994. John’s diverse international music projects include work with the sound artist Max Eastley, composer Stanislaw Hansel, cellist Gabriel Prynn (Trio Fibonacci), and his collaboration with Anne Parouty and Sakab Bashir won him in a BAFTA Digital Arts Award in 2004. Recent work includes collaborations at galleries in Prague, Utrecht and at the Salle Camille Claudel, Clermont-Ferrand, France. ‘Cycles and Rounds for Peter Maxwell Davies’ (2016) – a tombeau for Peter Maxwell Davies and ‘DUET I for ‘cello and computer’ (2016/7) – a graphic score, premiered at the Charterhouse in Hull in March 2017.  John is Artistic Director of the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Visit the EAE website here

Many thanks to Streetscene Bridge Operations staff, it’s been great working together and we’re really pleased with the sounds and images we’ve captured already.

Lou Duffy-Howard

Open Bridges is an independent Hull based project by Duffy-Howard Music in partnership with HCC Streetscene Services taking place during the City of Culture Freedom Season.