Sound Installation Project - Corfe Castle

Representing history through sound and music.

During the academic year of 2018 to 2019, I began my final year of study at Bournemouth University of Music and Sound Production Technology.

My final project idea was up to me, and I decided to go for something creative which would enable me to connect with people using my skills in music and sound.

Whenever I write music, it is always letting others listen to it and enjoy it that gives me the most satisfaction.

So, considering it was a nearby location that I also really loved, I settled on Corfe Castle, in Dorset, England, to be the location and inspiration for my project.

(To go straight to the track, click here!)

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My plan was to make an audible experience of sound and music that represented the history of Corfe Castle using historic music and real sounds from the site.

My early research led me to an amazing discovery: a very real and very early example of polyphonic music, discovered by a University of Cambridge student while on an internship at the British Library, in a collection known as The Winchester Troper.

On the left (below on mobile) is a modern version of the score, notated in a more readable format. 

Be sure to check out the original webpage for yourself here that goes into more detail: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/earliest-known-piece-of-polyphonic-music-discovered 

There is also a recording of the work performed by two University of Cambridge students, which became the foundation of my piece.

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As part of my intention to make the composition immersive and related to the historical space it would be created for, I recorded many different sounds at Corfe Castle which I would edit, mix, and manipulate using electroacoustic techniques.

There was an intention to perform the composition at Corfe Castle for visitors and, based upon my research, it was clear that recognisable sounds recorded on location would be more evocative for listeners.

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To add a musical element to the the composition, which I felt would help guide listeners through the piece, I used three different musical elements, all based on the early polyphonic music from the Winchester Troper.

 

I used the University of Cambridge recording of the Winchester Troper piece, I composed a short string arrangement of the piece (with additional harmony), and I recorded a vocal soloist in St. Ambrose Church, Westbourne, singing and humming both parts independently.

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To help me organise my various recorded sounds and musical motifs, I put together a timeline of Corfe Castle's history using pictures of important moments (see to the right).

The full composition artistically reflects the full history of Corfe Castle and hopefully it can be noticed when following this timeline whilst listening. Be sure to listen out for the train near the end, an important sign of modernisation in Corfe's lifetime!

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After much work researching, composing, recording, mixing, testing... the final composition was finished and ready to be played, via a 4-speaker system, to the visitors at Corfe Castle.

It was impractical to setup a playback system on the actual Castle grounds, although that would have been great, so instead I had prepared for a setup in the visitors' centre. 

The piece aims to connect the listener with Corfe Castle, through the use of emotive music and immersive sound design & audio manipulation. The piece should take you on a creative journey from the humble beginnings of Corfe Castle, through its development, up until the modern day!

THANK YOU FOR VISITING THIS PAGE!

You can listen to the piece below; I do hope you enjoy! For a better experience, headphones are recommended. If you would like to learn even more about this project, such as the findings and feedback from listeners, or for anything else, be sure to get in touch!

Thank you for listening.

Charles

 
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Charles Harrison - Show Reel (2017)
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