Vocal Resonances is a new site specific sound installation by Kathy Hinde created for the first floor room of the Magazine Gateway, Leicester,which premiered 13 – 15 December 2018. Many thanks and credit to the vocalists featured in this installation: Ceylan Hey, Jasmine Butt, Phil Owen and Tim Riley. Commissioned as part of European IN SITU programme as a collaboration between the Music, Technology and Innovation – Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2) at De Montfort University, Leicester and IRCAM, The Pompidou Centre, Paris as part of the wider research project ‘Interfaces‘. Two more installations for historic sites in Leicester were also on show by Liminal and Joseph Young – more information here.
Inspiration was drawn from the presence of a Buddhist temple bell present in the room. The bell was looted from Myanmar (known as Burma at the time) in the 1880’s and brought to the Leicestershire Regiment Barracks in South Wigston at the time of the Third Anglo-Burmese war and complete annexation of Burma by the British.
Buddhist bells have many purposes and meanings. They can be a call to prayer; a celebration and sharing of someones personal devotions; used to represent the enlightened voice of the Buddha; used as a call for protection and to ward off evil spirits.
In times of war, large bells made of iron and bronze were often melted down to make military equipment, or vice versa in times of peace. This provides an interesting connection to the Magazine Gateway’s previous history as a store for arms and munitions in the English Civil War in the 17th century.
Vocal Resonances grows from a desire to ‘sound’ the bell that has been silenced and removed from its Buddhist purpose and meaning for over 150 years. To give the bell a voice.
The sound of the bell was recorded by placing sensitive microphones inside the bell and recording the reverberations of the surrounding sounds of traffic from this interior perspective. This recording was then re-played into the room and re-recorded from inside the bell. This process was repeated 5 times, resulting in a recording that highlights the specific resonant frequencies of the bell. The unique voice of the bell, recorded without actually ‘ringing’ it or even touching it.
This recording contains many harmonics and frequencies personal to the bell. Through close listening, this recording was transcribing into a vocal score which plays on eight speakers in the room. The vocal piece rises and falls in relation to the original recording of the bell resonated through the fluctuations of the surrounding sounds of traffic and the street outside.
Transcribing the bell resonances to be sung by human voices connects to how the voice is used in the practice of Buddhism in preparing the mind for meditation and for ritual purposes. The interior sound of the bell is sonified through the interior sounds of human bodies and vocal chambers.
In the installation, these vocalisations of the bells can also be listened to from the perspective of the bell’s interior. Two microphones are positioned inside the bell, and can be listened through on headphones in the centre of the room. Listen to a stereo mix of the 8 channel piece below
The event began with artists’ talks on Thursday 13th December 2-3pm at De Montfort University’s PACE building (Richmond Street), followed by visits to the installations.
Thursday 13 December: 3pm – 6pm; Friday 14 December: Noon – 6pm; Saturday 15 December: Noon – 5pm
LOCATIONS: The Magazine, Vaughan Way, Leicester and St Nicholas Church, St Nicholas Walk, Leicester
A De Montfort University-led collaboration with IRCAM (Pompidou Centre, Paris) involving the creation of site-specific artistic environments celebrating special historic architecture, providing unique sonic experiences on two floors within Leicester’s historic Magazine Gateway and also at St Nicholas Church.