Blog Me and My Practice Hi there, it’s Matthew Tuckey here, I worked with November Club last year as the Sound Designer for Lost, Found & Told – New Audio Tales for Northumberland. A big part of my practice as a sound designer and sound artist is field recording, and Lost, Found & Told was no exception. In fact, the project lends itself beautifully to the opportunity to create a sound portrait of the stunning Northumberland landscape that has inspired much of my field recording work. Keep an eye out on November Club’s posts as I share some of the locations I visited across Northumberland (and a little further afield!) to create field recordings layered and weaved together in each story’s soundscapes. To find out more about my work and see what else I’ve been up to, you can follow me on Twitter @MGTuckey and check out my website www.matthewtuckey.co.uk Green Croft on the Wall Look closely and you’ll spot my field recording equipment in this image, next to the stream running up to the tree in the middle of the picture. This location is just along from Green Croft on the Wall, the site of Green Croft Arts. It’s not far from this location that the story ‘The Brag, the Wish and the Wall’ is set. You can just make out the frost on the grass in this picture, it was an early start for me recording at Green Croft to beat the rush of traffic noise audible from this location on the wall. Yet my frozen fingers were rewarded with a beautifully clear morning sky and a great view over the wall. When placing my microphones for a location recording, I consider the picture I am creating in the listeners headphones, choosing the perspective of both ears based on where I want to put the listener in their mind. Much like a photographer or painter chooses to direct their lens or compose their image with depth and focus. Close by a gurgling stream to one side, beyond it a field of cows to one side and sheep to the other, and straight ahead of you a tree full of tiny chirping birds. The presence of the stream was the start of an emerging thread in the soundscape of the pieces, from the hills of the National Park to the ragged coastline, there is running water throughout connecting all of the tales. Amble Pier An early morning drive to Amble is the best way to catch the coastal towns bird life at it’s most vocal! To record a dawn chorus in full, and without disruption to the wildlife, I have to be in position and already recording an hour before sunrise, then step back from the equipment to an inaudible distance and watch the scene unfold. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a huge amount of human activity at this time in the morning, so I have a relatively good chance of getting a long clean recording without inquisitive dog walkers asking what all the equipment is about! The result – the evocative sound of coastal birdlife, underscored by the gentle movement of the tide around the pier and the occasional passing fishing vessel on it’s way out to sea. In ‘Kindness to Strangers’ Jameela awakes to the sound of these unfamiliar birds. But to the miners who find her, and the rest of us Northumberlanders, this soundscape is immediately reminiscent of our coastal towns. Druridge Bay Quite a few of my field recording trips for Lost, Found & Told involved an early start to avoid excessive human noise drowning out the sounds of each location. Normally, this early start is rewarded with a sunrise illuminating a peaceful view – apparently not on this trip to Druridge Bay! The sound of the shoreline was perhaps one of the most challenging soundscapes to compose on this project. There are some sounds that are hard to place when disassociated from a visual reference. Try playing a film with the picture off and you’ll see what I mean – “was that sizzling bacon or torrential rain?!” It can be a real test of creativity and technical skill on a field recording trip when you put your headphones on and hear something completely different to what you heard seconds before with your own ears! Fortunately, I had almost the entire length of Druridge Bay to wander down and find the right spot to capture the sound of the incoming tide. Eventually I found a position that worked – all that was left to do was judge how far back from the incoming tide to set up my equipment, balancing the right sound with a safe distance from the water! Craigellachie The eagle eyed will notice that this is indeed not a Northumberland landscape! In fact, this recording is from early summer of 2019 whilst on holiday in Craigellachie, Scotland. So how did this recording come to feature in Lost, Found & Told – New Audio Tales for Northumberland? I went on holiday to Craigellachie two years ago and it just so happened that our Air BnB was right between two large sheep fields which were home to the most persistently vocal flock of sheep I have ever heard! Being the ever-ready field recordist, on holiday with my very understanding (and ever patient!) wife, I took the opportunity one afternoon to record the back and forth chatter of our new fluffy neighbours. Tucked away in my library of field recordings, these sheep made an honorary appearance in our Northumberland soundscape, magically visible and audible some 250 miles away to The Boy in the (very tall) Tower! An Audio Diary in Binaural January 2021 I released some new field recordings over the weekend from January's trips into the Northumberland National Park. The content should appeal to a wide audience as you journey into the peaceful soundscape of the National Park. Full details can be found on my website: https://www.matthewtuckey.co.uk/audio-diary-in-binaural-january2021 To learn more about Lost, Found and Told: New Audio Tales for Northumberland visit our webpage here.