National Trust Soundscapes
ODAS was commissioned to create an ambient soundscape for the National Trust property Nostell Priory. Initially created to be played around the large property for Christmas, there ended up being a series of three full soundscapes of 50-60 minutes.
The original commission was to take the sounds of Nostell Priory’s John Harrison exhibition (by Luke Jerram) and develop them into a new audio piece. The exhibition featured a huge room full of ticking clocks – over 500 – and was a really interesting experience.
Sampling the rooms as a starting point, the commission also wanted to be Christmassy in tone, utilising old Christmas songs (i.e. out of licence) or the sounds of Christmas.
Nostell Priory is a large building with lots of natural echo. I focused on mostly ambient sounds, writing new passages of music and interconnecting them with my own recordings of classic Christmas carols, usually slowed down either through recording at a slower tempo, or time-stretching them to add to the ambient atmosphere. Focusing purely on using melody and instrumentation to create a soundbed in this style allowed space for the samples of the ticking clocks to take the lead, though given the length of the soundscape and that it would be looped for 8 hours a day, they were used sparingly.
I was also asked to DJ at the opening of the event. As my set was built around ambient music, I decided to create an interactive element to the show by looping the clock samples and playing through a laptop. The audience were invited to alter the samples by playing with various effects pedals and a KAOS Pad, effectively creating a second live soundscape in the DJ performance area.
The soundscape was a great success in terms of sonically animating the space at Nostell. I returned to create two more soundscapes, with one focusing on implementing vox pops taken in the house. Nostell was developing it’s “Nostell Nights” series of events, so attendees were asked about their experiences, with these comments edited and placed over ambient sounds.