News Archive: Snape Maltings
A set of field recordings, made by Giles Stogdon in and around Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings – part of our research for the Variable 4 installation at Snape Maltings in May 2011.
Recordings of the Variable 4 installation at Snape Maltings.
The recordings are unedited and un-effected and were made by walking around the site at dawn using a Audio Technica BP4027 stereo shotgun microphone, Rycote windshield and Tascam HD-P2 portable recorder.
Selected photos from our 24 hours of Variable 4 Snape Maltings photographs, courtesy of Louis Mustill.
We’re twelve hours into Variable 4 Snape Maltings and layering up for nighttime under the Suffolk sky. Thanks to everybody who caught the coach to join us this afternoon — after a long period of grey skies, the sun eventually broke through to herald its departure.
Here in Aldeburgh, the first couple of days of setup have been arduous but fun. Thanks to herculean efforts, we’ve now got speaker trenches dug, circuitous cable runs laid, an operational weather station, an ad hoc surround-sound mixing room with iOS remote controls, a networked outhouse via festooned CAT-5, some lightboxed signage and — imminently — a beautifully-printed artists book to mark and document the installation.
We’re departing early tomorrow morning to spend a week’s residency at Aldeburgh, to install, develop and fine-tune the piece in situ. To assemble the requisite vanload of materials and equipment without losing the remnants of our sanity, we’ve created the longest kit list known to humankind. Behold.
On the estuary banks of the rivers Alde and Ore, the Snape Maltings arts complex — the soon-to-be home for Variable 4 — has a rich heritage. It is made up of a collection of former Victorian malthouses, which were subsequently discovered by composer Benjamin Britten as a suitable site for a creative hub for the south-east. Britten and Peter Pears led the 1960s redevelopment of the site for their fast-growing annual Aldeburgh Festival, featuring a huge auditorium and several rehearsal spaces.
The auditorium was tragically destroyed by a fire on the opening night of the festival, but was rapidly rebuilt and restored to operation the following year. Now owned by the Aldeburgh Music organisation, it is today used year-round for a large number of concerts, residencies and teaching, alongside countless other attractions: cafes, shops, galleries and tearooms, with food that Variable 4 can highly vouch for.
Because it’s a sunny Friday and we’re celebrating a highly successful Variable 4 field test yesterday, we’ve decided to give away a free pair of coach tickets to Variable 4 at FTS: Soundfields on 28th May. These will shuttle you direct from London Liverpool Street to Aldeburgh for a sound-art daytrip to the Suffolk countryside (travel details).
To enter: simply send an email to competition at variable4.org.uk, subject “Competition”, by 7pm Friday 20 May. We’ll notify the winner on Saturday morning.
For the day of the Snape Maltings installation, we’re delighted to once more be operating a direct coach journey from London Liverpool Street to the site of Variable 4 and Faster Than Sound: Soundfields. At less than half the cost of a train ticket, and running direct to Snape Maltings, it should hopefully save visitors time and money, and provide a memorable day trip to the Suffolk countryside melded seamlessly with cutting-edge sound art.
Book your coach ticket here. Bookings are done securely through Paypal, with a limited number of discounted early-bird tickets for those quick off the mark.
In preparation for next month’s Faster Than Sound, we’ve been doing some analysis of the local area’s weather data from past years, to gain some insight into what the conditions are likely to be on the day. The gratifying part of this is producing graphical visualisations of weather patterns, which can often be aesthetically beautiful as well as useful for understanding underlying structure.
Here are a couple from last year’s research at Dungeness, representing the distribution of wind direction over a month:
In looking into online approaches, we came across Weatherspark, which is an incredibly full-featured tool to look into current and historical meteorological trends around the world. It includes data from a weather station not too far from Aldeburgh, and can be filtered by numerous attributes: wind speed and direction, sun hours, temperature, dew point, humidity, precipitation, and more.
It allows data from different stations to also be compared, and – in a really nice feature – generates written weather forecasts for any given day. Check it out for May 28th.
We’re delighted to finally bring news of further Variable 4 happenings. This May, almost twelve months on precisely, we’ll be taking the piece to new terrain courtesy of Faster Than Sound and Aldeburgh Music.
As part of FTS: Soundfields, the work will be alongside as Bruce Gilbert, Beaconsfield ArtWorks and the fantastic Blast Theory, making a triumvirate of immersive sonic art. Sited on the expansive reed fields beyond the Snape Maltings concert hall, Suffolk (local map, google map), it will be in striking contrast to the desolation of Dungeness.
We’re currently in the midst of rewriting the score from ground up, developing new algorithmic methods to link together distant parts of the piece, and in the studio with a number of fantastic musicians. More reports on this in the coming weeks.
Finally, we’ll be previewing Variable 4 prior to Faster Than Sound with an afternoon-long installation in London. This will be taking place sometime in early May, near to the digital studios at Goldsmiths, University of London. Dates will be confirmed very shortly.