Aeons: A sound walk for the Great Exhibition of the North

It’s about time; it’s about the river… …the river’s obviously very old, and the architecture on the other side is very interesting, and not as old, and the river, calm and beautiful as it is… I don’t really question the age of that in the same way. Groups of people with headphones on will walk down the Tyne and listen to a variety of bits of music… This is Cedric. Cedric has microphones where ears would normally be… …and also ears where ears would normally be. The material that our ears are made out of has something to do with how we hear, and of course they point in a very specific direction. So this is essentially a microphone and it allows us to make very realistic recordings of what it would be like if you were Cedric. We’re walking the length of the route today capturing all the noises that you would hear anyway, so when you do the route you’ll kind of get double reality: you’ll also get this lot of recordings that we’re doing today. Everything’s kind of hyper-real through it, which is… interesting. It makes you hear some things that you might not otherwise notice. I do spend quite a lot of time walking and listening to music, and there’s definitely something about moving as you listen to music. As you go along the walk, various radio triggers set off what is essentially the next track, so if you imagine it’s sort of like an album but you have to physically walk past the track change points. [Becky Unthank sings] There are beacons to be lit, There is wine to be tasted, There are hours to use, That yesterday were wasted… [Becky Unthank] The Tyne is such an integral part of our identity, coming from Gateshead or from Newcastle, and the song Time Enough Tomorrow is from a suite of music called The Tyne Slides By, and it’s about a journey along the Tyne. It hasn’t been sung a lot; it’s not really well-known so it’s really nice for it to have a new life and to be a part of this walk. [Martin Green] We’ve got the binaural head, and I’m fortunate enough to have spent a long time with Becky’s voice now, but I’ve never heard it in the same way as I heard it today. We’ve never had the same opportunities to play around with positioning and proximity… This is an experience to have her right in your ear, or the other ear… …or maybe behind you! [Becky Unthank singing] [Martin Green] The walk gets essentially more serene as you move away from the bustling urban bit and out into the rural bit, and we’re led out of the “cave” by the Opera North Chorus. We stand right in the middle of the Chorus, which is quite a powerful sonic sensation. The music that we’ve written for the Chorus is a little bit of musing on the nature of time that I wrote, and then Opera North found somebody that could translate it into Latin for us. My Latin is obviously excellent but, you know, I’m just busy. As we get to this last couple of bridges here, we get the final piece of music from the Orchestra. The Orchestra will play a version of a theme that we hear earlier on, and we’ll hear this same thing three times: once at the beginning with just an accordion, and then an electronic version in the middle of the walk, and a final symphonic arrangement of it at the end. As we walk under the last bridge of the walk along the River Tyne, we come to a bend in the river, and we can’t see round the bend in the river… We are led to believe that something beautiful is around the corner, so the piece of music that we’re recording is about the kind of optimism and possibility …of what might be around the corner that you can’t see. There could be anything… anything… …some wonderful utopia, around that corner, which is what we’re going to leave the audience with…

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