“The idea within the music was to create the feeling of the wings movement. The energy behind flight for a bird. I want the listener to have the feeling of flying. I want to convey the feeling I get when geese fly overhead. The energy and effort that the body experts. Each wing forcing the air while the body makes gentle sounds like an accordion. I have ignored many aspects of time and tempo. Inspired by Satie to ignore and eliminate the bar lines. There is no strict tempo, no pulse, no defined time signature. The birds sing all together but have little time or inclination to listen to each other much. As they are all too busy shouting for their own space in the world. The dawn chorus is a melee of songs and rhythms from all our garden birds. Some have flown hundreds of miles to be with us. Others are our native garden friends like the Blackbirds and the Robins. There is no real time signature in this piece. It is all Tempo Rubato, with no end. Just the same way a bird would sing. The phrases are sometimes short and sometimes long. Some parts are in 12/8 others in 3/4 some are 9/8 and 4/4 or 5/4. All together they make a polyrhythm reflecting the birds at the dawn chorus. As no one teaches the birds time signatures or key relationships, they just sing over each other repeating themselves.
I followed in the footsteps of Erik Satie by ignoring bar lines and conventions of time too. Nothing really has a time signature in the piece. Everything individually has, but over all it is a chaos of polyrhythms. This is again deliberate as I wanted to simulate the growing of the dawn into the light and then evaporating away like a dream. Also birds have no sense of time signatures when they sing together they just sing. I didn’t want a set rhythm or time to the piece because birds don’t sing to a set pulse, nor are they conducted in anyway to be together musically. Despite this it is a beautiful wonder of nature. They are not thinking about 4/4 or 6/8, they just belt it out. The melee of music that is the dawn chorus is everyone singing all the favourite melodies at once. All the varied rhythms and lengths, everything predefined by what the birds can utter. But all as one too. I wanted to recreate musically the sound of birds flying. The effort and strain they exertion for each moment of flight. Along with the feeling of oneness too.
The EMS Synthi AKS and Korg Delta were loaned by Ian Campbell at synthcurious.com, he also added some fine touches to the big wing sounds himself.”
The White Noise: An Audio Feature in Stereophonic Hell
The White Noise: An Audio Feature in Stereophonic Hell is a collage of audio arranged and edited by David Butler with video by Andrea Pazos produced for Delia Derbyshire Day 2019 which honoured the 50th anniversary of “An Electric Storm” by White Noise (Island Records, 1969). This feature is made in the spirit of the four ‘Inventions for Radio’, which Delia Derbyshire collaborated on with the dramatist Barry Bermange.
This piece is an attempt to illustrate with sounds and voices the story of White Noise’s album An Electric Storm – how the album came to be made, its distinctive qualities, cultural significance and ongoing influence on artists today.
All the voices were recorded from life and arranged in a setting of radiophonic sound in twelve movements.
Drawing on music and sound design by Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson and David Vorhaus from the Kaleidophon years when An Electric Storm was made and released, the feature includes interviews with Ian Campbell, Chris Carter, Ian Heliwell, Suzy Mangion, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Adrian Utley, Martyn Ware and Mandy Wigby as well as an original arrangement and performance of ‘Firebird’ by Morris Clarke.
The groundbreaking White Noise album, An Electric Storm, is celebrated this Saturday at The British Library.
Organised by our friends at Delia Derbyshire Day, there are a series of events planned throughout the day, including a contribution from Delia’s bandmates Brian Hodgson and David Vorhaus.
The day will also include a special screening of a 20 minute audio feature produced by Lead Researcher and Curator of the Delia audio archive in Manchester, David Butler. This includes contributions from Adrian Utley (Portishead), Martyn Ware (The Human League, BEF, Heaven 17), Chris+Cosey (Throbbing Gristle), and our own Ian Campbell.