Inspired by our iconic Finback Whale, the Museum of Zoology ran a series of workshops collecting voices from Cambridge and beyond to create a soundtrack for this amazing skeleton in the newly built Whale Hall of the Museum of Zoology. With the help of choir leader Rowena Whitehead and Jo Shaw and Tizzy Faller from the Department of Music, we reached out to over 1000 people in schools, museums and other spaces. Chris Watson, award-winning wildlife sound recorder and sound artist, has combined these with his recordings of the world’s oceans into a magical, atmospheric journey around the world. Here is the finished piece, which you can hear in the Whale Hall from late 2017.
Friday 20 January
18.00 – 21.00
Inspired by Picasso’s circle in Montmartre in the first decade of the 20th century, the Gallery becomes an artists’ colony featuring a wild cross-pollination of ideas, music, poetry, performance, art, film and dance. For one evening only, step inside the mind of Picasso where Everything You Can Imagine is Real…
Curated and Produced by Martyn Ware for Illustrious.
Zarina Bhimji, Georgina Brett, Peter Coyle, Eclectic Method, Vanessa Fenton, Feral Five, Sarah Hopkins, Aaron Horn, IN-IS, Marcus Lyon, Di Mainstone, Tracey Moberly, Nikky Norton-Shafau, Obsrvtry, Radiophonic Workshop, Ian Reddington, Cherub Sanson, Scanner, John Shuttleworth, The Spinning Yarns, Chris Sullivan, Toby Thompson, Gabriel Ware, Martyn Ware, Chris Watson,Tim Wheater, White Noise, Luke Wright
Download programme here
Supported by Goldman Sachs
Soundscape system and headphones by Bowers & Wilkins
Part of the programme of events complementing Picasso Portraits.
…In which, as we enter a new year, our friends and collaborators look back on the past twelve months and share their moments;
“In the early 1980’s whilst I was exploring Northumberland for recording locations I discovered a book by Alfred Watkins, first published in 1925. The Old Straight Track, together with the collected works of Tom Lethbridge, gradually illuminated a pathway for me through the Borders landscape as I discovered for myself that intangible sense of spirit and place…”
We’re pleased to announce the annual Wildeye overseas sound recording field trip / workshop which will be led, as usual, by Chris Watson and Jez riley French. Plus, our special guest, Jana Winderen, will join us for a day or so to show us some of her approaches and talk about her work.
We will be staying in the region of Västergötland, close to Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake and home to an abundance of bird and sub-aquatic life. We’re also close to some other important environments such as the Göta river and canal, Vänern, Kinnekulle, Hornborgasjön, a smaller lake famous for its colony of cranes, and of course vast areas of forest and national parks.
Field Recording by Chris Watson
Orford Ness on the eastern coast of England is the longest shingle spit in Europe. For twelve miles this lichen-colored tongue of shifting sand and pebbles curls out into the North Sea. The Ness is a remote and isolated place, an uninhabited no-man’s-land, for decades occupied solely by the military for practicing the dark arts of war.
Chris Watson has won the Location Sound category in the 2016 Resolution Creative Awards. The Resolution Awards recognise quality and innovation in professional audio and your facility has been judged to be outstanding in these respects by the best informed readership in the industry. Congratulations.
With Pip Norton and Chris Watson
This two-day course explores techniques of editing audio files on a computer and mixing soundtracks. Through demonstration and working on practical tasks you will learn how to create, edit, manipulate and improve sound recordings, and also how they can be effectively combined and mixed together to produce a soundtrack. This could be for a television or radio programme, for installations, movies, video games, CD/audio-file releases or for your own enjoyment.
The course includes the creation and production of Foley sound and sound effects, how to record the perfect voice over/narration, and covers the growing area of multi-channel mixing.
It is suitable for those who have already taken our Introduction to Wildlife Sound Recording course, or those who already have some experience of audio work. It will also be invaluable for video editors and producers who oversee the post production process.
The course is taught by Pip Norton, a highly experienced re-recording mixer and post production specialist, and Chris Watson, one of the world’s top wildlife sound specialists who regularly works for the BBC.
The location is Whitwell Hall Country Centre in the centre of Norfolk, UK. Accommodation is shared rooms (or there are nearby bed and breakfasts/hotels if you prefer), and there will be excellent home-cooked food.
It is recommended that you bring your own laptop/computer with editing and mixing programs installed and any sound recording equipment you may have. (If you have yet to invest in any audio software, one recommendation is to try Reaper – this is an excellent digital audio workstation which you can try free for 60 days, and if you wish to continue you can buy a license for just $60 (about £40)).
The 2016 award is presented to ecoartscotland and The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) collaboration in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the field of environmental arts, including the LAGI Glasgow Design Competition.
The judging panel were particularly impressed by the practical orientation and ambitious scope of the initiative, which directly engages with management of the environment. They praised the multi-disciplinary structure of the collaboration, bringing together science, art, design and engineering expertise to tackle the transition to renewable energy in response to climate change, one of our biggest global environmental challenges. The open sharing of ideas and experience which is facilitated by the project will undoubtedly lead to an ultimate impact beyond the scope of the project alone.
The Nick Reeves AWEinspiring Award is presented annually by CIWEM’s Arts and the Environment Network in association with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW). The award celebrates projects or practitioners who have contributed innovatively to CIWEM’s vision of “putting creativity at the heart of environmental policy and action”.
Chris writes: “I am delighted and honoured to receive a special commendation as part of the 2016 Nick Reeves Award for Arts and the Environment. Having my work recognised in this way reflects the significance of the arts, and sound in particular, as an engaging means of encouraging awareness in the natural world and the connections between all our environments.”
A Night conducted by Cédric Villani
With Chris Watson, Martin Hertau (TARA)…
Following the Bat Night in 2014 and the Night of Honey in 2015, the Nights of Uncertainty program continues its exploration of the natural world together with Cédric Villani.
English musician Chris Watson is one of the leading figure of field recording today. Throughout the evening, he takes the audience on a journey, listening to the winds of the Earth, from the North Polar Zone to Antarctica, through the plains of Tanzania, the coasts of Thailand or the Scottish Highlands. Cédric Villani discusses with Martin Hertau, captain of Tara schooner, thanks to a live connexion from its anchorage near Maupihaa atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in order to speak about sailing with winds.
Through the various contributions, as well as screenings and readings, Cédric Villani, a mathematician with an infinite curiosity, explores one of the first sound phenomena appeared on Earth and brings to it his own scientific and poetic perspective.
Chris Watson is one of the world’s greatest nature sound recordists. From the North Pole and South Pole to the forests of Congo and deserts, he has done some of the most unique and challenging projects in capturing the sounds of wildlife and natural phenomena — from the song of bearded seals under the Norwegian fjords to the groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier. The British artist talks to Grin about why the act of listening is so vital to keep our world green, and to keep us joyful and sane…
„Ich habe im Laufe meiner Arbeit festgestellt, dass es Orte gibt, an denen eine besondere Atmosphäre herrscht, eine besondere Klangfarbe oder ein besonderer Rhythmus“, erklärt der britische Klangforscher Chris Watson. Der Peterlunger-Teich auf der Seiser Alm ist so ein besonderer Ort, sagenumwoben und inmitten einer viele Jahrtausende alten Kulturlandschaft gelegen. Ausgehend von der Bergstation der Seiser Umlaufbahn wandert das Transart-Publikum gemeinsam mit Martha Silbernagl dorthin und lässt sich von Chris Watson in eine Klangwelt der Vergangenheit zurückführen, als die Dolomiten noch der Meeresboden eines riesenhaften Ozeans waren.
Nach der Performance führt die Wanderung zurück nach Compatsch, wo das diesjährige Abschlusskonzert des Festivals stattfindet.
Monday, September 5th at 8 pm
Imaginary Journeys to the Elephants’ Graveyard
With Carlos Casas, Chris Watson & Joyce Poole
Walk through the exhibition spaces and in the garden (screening, installations, conference, concert)
Duration: approx. 1h15
Carlos Casas’ movies are at the crossroad of documentaries, fictions, visual and sound arts. For this Nomadic Night, the Catalan filmmaker has chosen to bring the audience inside the making of his next film entitled Cemetery, a visual and aural experience inspired by the mythical elephants’ graveyard. At once an action movie, an experimental film and a science-fictional documentary, Cemetery is a sort of initiatory trip, an acoustic Noah’s arc paying equal tribute to Tarzan and to La Région Centrale by Michael Snow.
During this Nomadic Night, conceived as an exclusive insight into this project, spectators will engage in a quest for aural and visual remnants of the mythical graveyard using photographs, drawings and research documents pertaining to the film. The event will be punctuated by a conference on the language of elephants and by a concert inspired by the film’s soundscape.
With the exclusive participation of Chris Watson during one concert – founding member of the post-Punk band Cabaret Voltaire in the 1970’s, sound recorder for “Life” the BBC documentary series by Sir David Attenborough, he is one of the main figures of field recording today.
With the intervention of Joyce Poole, researcher specialized into the social and cognitive behavior of elephants and cofounder of the NGO “Elephant Voices”.
No assigned seats.
Compass is a brand new sound installation from world renowned wildlife recordist Chris Watson and acclaimed Northumbrian poet Linda France. Specially commissioned by Cheeseburn, and located in four different places around the grounds, visitors are invited to listen to a lightly orchestrated soundscape of birdsong, wildlife, weather and original poems – each composed to the specific setting, the time of day and the season.
Chris Watson and Linda France visited Cheeseburn frequently over one year to create this exciting new installation, where a world riven with migration and change finds a compass in the sense of soon itself, the poetry of everyday listening. Visit the Formal Garden, The Courtyard, The Potting Shed and the Stable Loft to experience Compass this August Bank Holiday weekend.
15-19th August 1.45pm
A series of five illustrated talks which explore our relationship with Rivers. Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson
Monday 15 August: A Salmon struggles on a weir as writer and naturalist Paul Evans reflects on Sabrina and the fish of no return.
Tuesday 16 August: Alan Read, Professor of Theatre at Kings College London recalls a childhood influenced by the Essex estuary.
Wednesday 17 August: Martin Palmer, Secretary General of The Alliance of Religions and Conservation reflects on the significance of rivers in religious stories and traditions.
Thursday 18 August: The relationship which writer and essayist Kathleen Jamie has with the River Tay changes when some Bronze Age swords are dredged out of its waters.
Friday 19 August: The sounds of the River are captured by Chris Watson when he follows the course of the North Tyne from the summit of Peel Fell in Northumberland to the sea at Tynemouth.
London, as You’ve Never Heard It Before by Alex Marshall
Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan
‘The Great Circle’ is an Ambisonic sound installation taking the audience on a journey from Northumberland to Aichi overland via a Great Circle route.
Exhibition: 21 June – 24 July
Free in The Gallery, Mon – Sat 10:00-16:00, Sun: 11:00-16:00
The Gallery Tyneside Cinema is delighted to present The Town Moor – A Portrait In Sound, a sound installation by Chris Watson, one of the world’s most esteemed and successful wildlife sound recordists.
The starting point for the exhibition is material recorded for a BBC Radio Newcastle programme, for which Watson documented one year in the life of the Town Moor, capturing the sounds, birds, beasts and people in the ‘green lungs’ of the city. The material has been reworked and new recordings added in order to create an exhibition in The Gallery using 3D ambisonic sound to make an immersive sound work, and a ‘dark’ cinema experience. You are invited to experience the piece as if it was an image-less’ film, using the sound narrative provided by the seasons to create an acoustic picture of the Town Moor. The exhibition gives you the chance to discover the importance of sound within the cinematic experience.
The exhibition runs from 21 June – 24 July in The Gallery on the third floor of Tyneside Cinema.
The Monocle Weekly:
“Restaurateur, writer and food specialist Henry Dimbleby discusses the virtues of London’s food markets, typographers Nadine Chahine and Malou Verlomme of design agency Monotype explain their new font ‘Johnston100’ and Chris Watson, the pioneering musician and sound recordist for natural history programmes, tells us about his new event ‘The Town Moor – A Portrait in Sound’.”
The Creators Project
“Watson was a founding member of experimental Dada-influenced band Cabaret Voltaire, and as a sound recordist has worked on numerous Sir David Attenborough-narrated nature docs like Life in the Undergrowth and Frozen Planet. Now he’s chosen to turn his expertise and microphone-wielding skills to the moor, capturing its micro and not-so-micro-sounds…”
Several times a year, Chris leads sound recording courses organised by Wildeye, a UK-based company which specialises in wildlife film-making processes, including sound recording.
The courses have recently been extended to include overseas destinations, including France, Sweden and Iceland, but they take place twice a year in Norfolk, on the east coast of England. The courses are almost always over-subscribed, so it is recommended that you sign up to their newsletter…
300 Copies on Vinyl. Also available as WAV, FLAC and MP3
Distributed by Kudos. Released 8 March 2016.
Giacinto Scelsi Duo for Violin and Cello
1. Part 1
2. Part 2
Performed by Aisha Orazbayeva and Lucy Railton
Recorded by Peiman Khosravi
Mixed by Peiman Khosravi and AIsha Orazbayeva
1. Invertebrate Harmonics – Chris Watson
2. Honshirabe – 本調
Performed by Joe Browning
Recorded by Chris Watson at Urchin Studios London
We have now made available selected editions of Chris’s Touch catalogue on Bandcamp, complete with pdfs of the booklets and CD artwork:
Stepping into the Dark (1997)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
“In recent years I have noticed that some of the locations I visited as a sound recordist displayed remarkable and particular characteristics. These may be sparkling acoustics, a special timbre, sometimes rhythmic, percussive or transient animal sounds. Without a doubt, playing a recording made at one of these sites can recreate a detailed memory of the original event. Also, as others have described, there is an intangible sense of being in a special place — somewhere that has a spirit — a place that has an ‘atmosphere’. These recordings avoid background noise, human disturbance and editing. They are made using sensitive microphones camouflaged and fixed in position usually well in advance of any recording or animal behaviour. The mics. are then cabled back on very long leads to a hide or concealed recording point, the aim being to capture the actual sound within each particular location without external influence. Sites are discovered by researching local natural or social history, by interpreting features on a map or through anecdote and conversation with people about their feelings for or against particular places. The author and researcher Tom Lethbridge identified the sources of several spirits within the topography of the area. I suspect that this also includes flora and fauna, local time of day, the weather and the season. The following recordings are the atmospheres of special places.” [Chris Watson]
Outside the Circle of Fire (1998)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
The purr of a leopard close up against a baobab tree, waiting. Whales surfacing, breathing in cold air. Coll starling imitate the noise of farm machinery from the hollow ring of a ruined bothy. The rattle of wood over a black stream… Chris Watson’s second CD is a dramatic contrast to the spacious atmospheres of “Stepping into the Dark” (Touch TO:27, 1996). Featuring 22 close-up recordings of animals, birds and insect life, “Outside the Circle of Fire” enlarges our awareness of the sound universe, intimate with voices from the past. There is an intensity here that television pictures cannot conjure.
Weather Report (2003)
The weather has created and shaped all our habitats. Clearly it also has a profound and dynamic effect upon our lives and that of other animals. The three locations featured here all have moods and characters which are made tangible by the elements, and these periodic events are represented within by a form of time compression.
This was Chris’s first foray into composition using his location recordings of wildlife and habitats – previously he has been concerned with describing and revealing the special atmosphere of a place by site specific, untreated location recordings. For the first time here he constructs collages of sounds, which evolve from a series of recordings made at the specific locations over varying periods of time.
El Tren Fantasma (2011)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
Vinyl edition – “The Signalman’s Mix” still available
“Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history.”
El Tren Fantasma, (The Ghost Train), is Chris Watson’s 4th solo album for Touch, and his first since Weather Report in 2003, which was named as one of the albums you should hear before you die in The Guardian. A Radio programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 30 Oct, 2010, produced by Sarah Blunt, and described as “a thrilling acoustic journey across the heart of Mexico from Pacific to Atlantic coast using archive recordings to recreate a rail passenger service which no longer exists. It’s now more than a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across country. Chris Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel this route. As sound recordist he was part of the film crew working on a programme in the BBC TV series Great Railways Journeys. Now, in this album, the journey of the ‘ghost train’ is recreated, evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects.