Monday, 21 November 2011

Finally...Illuminata at Caerphilly Castle

'Illuminata' is a son et lumiere created specifically for Caerphilly Castle to tell its history. It is returning for a second time to the Castle in December 2011.
I was commissioned to provide the sound piece for it and to also program the media server system for the video content.

After examining site plans and geography, I decided on a layout which is somewhat unconventional but worked well in the space. As a heritage site, there were a number of restrictions on what could and couldn't be physically achieved for a temporary system and I allowed for both variation in position and height in speakers in a way which would normally be considered slightly unbalanced but was taken into consideration with the content to create interesting textures. This resulted in six output channels plus additional bass.
The major creative decision was that the sound would contain no narrative. I incorporated a lot of soundscaping with the use of space and also music. As much of the history focusses on the medieval era, I was very happy to be working with recordings from different medieval manuscripts of music from that era. I chose all this very carefully and added in additional music of my own to provide links which were deliberately flavoured in a cinematic score style to juxtapose and add weight to the cartoon animations forming part of the medieval section of the story. This additional music to the period instrumentation was based on the medieval melodies or Welsh melodies. Once again, I explored the sounds of my lyre, as the forerunner of the harp, to create extra instrumental timbres alongside the medieval instruments.
The journey through from natural 'music' sounds to early music sounds and onwards through formal music of the 17th century, romantic harp playing of the 19th century into the radio and cinema footage of the twentieth, it has a lot of breadth and the combination of visuals and sound speak a great deal about the texture of history without a single word being spoken!
It also gave me the opportunity to express within a sound piece my knowledge of music and instrument history.