Tuesday 29 March 2016

Bogong- Final week of residency

“Nowhere else have I ever felt the subtle magnetism of an ancient land that holds dreams far, far older than history” Elyne Mitchell

The seasons have changed whilst up here. And nearly at the Autumn equinox the leaves are falling and the skies are shifting. The smell of the forest is sweet and fresh and clean.  We had some strong rains and the creeks are running high and the lake is full. It is certainly a change after so much heat. The small birds are hopping in glee, and the spiders are finding dry places to be (preferably outside!).

It is now towards the end of the second week and creative ideas are being dreamed, formed and explored. One of my favourite poets of my childhood was Judith Wright. I have been hearing her words whilst up here and reading more of her poetry that seems to augment the area. Her crystal clear Australian voice is one of the mountains.

Voice from the hills and the river drunken with rain,
for your lament the long night was too brief."

Memories of time and space flood in. It was when I was ten years old that I learnt of the snowy hydro scheme. A vivid memory of Geography class at primary school. It didn’t mention anything about the destruction of the landscape, only the success in harnessing energy. Together with these old memories, it has been been melding with my current landscape: The sparkly new with the ancient, and the not so new with the recent past. The memory too of driving solo, some fifteen years ago, from Mitta-Mitta to Omeo has surfaced brightly: in hindsight an initiation of sorts through these mountains.
The Aboriginals named almost every Rocky Peak ‘Bogong’. It is wonderful to know that this area was an important and sacred area for ritual and initiation,
I learnt of the indigenous baking Bogong Moths into cake, rich in fat and protein after they had pounded the moth’s bodies into a paste. I have to say that I prefer the cakes I have made whist here: dates, banana and apple. Perhaps that is for a trial another time when the Moths are here in the area.

Here in the mountains, there is a different quality of space and time. Of breath and voice. Moments transpose time and there is such beauty in the ephemerality of the landscape. I have enjoyed the process of recording my voice with the forest sounds.  

With thanks and gratitude to the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, for the privilege of having a two week artist in residence as part of the upcoming festival in April 2017, Phantasmagoria.

Bogong- Week 2

Days in Bogong are filled with being: dreaming, walking, listening and wondering. New ear-perspectives are being highlighted throughout the environs; new knowledge of how to record and structure sound is being learnt.
For me, there is a translation that occurs between Nature and Self, Body and Voice, Land and Sounds. I am looking for ways to record this: to be able to capture the ethereal reality of the dreamscape and physicalize it into “reality”.

The birds are gloriously vocal here. They chirp and tweet and herald the dusk and the dawn. They inspire me to make sounds far across the gullies. To use vowel sounds and open the vocal channel and sing with them: To be in harmony with them.

A few weeks back, I was awoken one morning by the repetition of ‘Solomon….Solomon….Solomon….’ The reverie holding the word for me to further day dream on.  I investigated the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. Solomon the Wise was a great Magician: he knew the language of the birds. “He understood the language of the Should and the inner voice of Intuition” Mark Starvish. In every indigenous culture they speak of their relationship to birds:  Ravens were known to guide the North American Indians to food. The language of the birds is a divine and mythical language. For me, it is a strong reminder to look deeper internally for signs and signals and follow the voice of intuition throughout the day.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

John Keats. Ode on a Nightingale.

The morning misty clouds on Sunday morning sparked onto a delightfully hot and humid day. The clouds were in perfect formation (see Photo 2). An inspiration of the whispiness of the wind carrying its visually formed breath, and the fleeting nature of Nature. Again a beautiful reminder of the beauty of Nature, and how quickly the mountains can change.

With thanks and gratitude to the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, for the privilege of having a two week artist in residence as part of the upcoming festival in April 2017, Phantasmagoria.

Bogong- Week 1- 11th March 2016

Sweltering heat greeted me on the mountain when I arrived. A heralding. A signaling that called me to the mountain. The first few days have been an exploration of this beautiful area: the lake, the junction dam, the rivers and rivulets, and the village. Bird song, Coo-ees, flora and fauna have been a part of my world here. As well as mountain grasshoppers, symbolic of creative inspiration, scurry along the lake path. My senses are somewhat heightened with clean air and fresh scents as well as sounds that careen across the mountain walls.

Since being here, I have been  wondering about the women who were integral to the running of the village. Especially in light of International Women’s Day this week. One woman, who stood out to me, was Miss Pearl Haynes: She sounded like an incredibly bright and esteemed woman in the Village. She was an avid hiker and fisherwoman and was a “great organiser”. Dear Pearl had a speech impairment, and it saddened me that this was described as a “failing”.

The land has a poetic feel to it, and much of the area is majestic and divine. A trip to the Rocky Dam past falls creek (Photo) highlighted again the majesty as well as the magic in changing perspectives. Perched high upon the mountain top, I find clarity and new inspiration. A new breath.

“I know it dark against the stars, the high lean country, full of old stories that still go walking in my sleep” South of my Days, Judith Wright.

I am yet to know many of the stories of Bogong and surrounds. But I am ready and listening.

With thanks and gratitude to the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture, for the privilege of having a two week artist in residence as part of the upcoming festival in April 2017, Phantasmagoria.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Is it sounding like noise?

"The difference between sound and noise, is that noise is unwanted."

There is much in the media at the moment about wind farms. In particular about their viability as an alternative energy source. The government is concerned about the  “Noise” they make. There is an excellent paper outlining all that relates to wind farms, "noise" and their development for anyone who wishes to know more."The noise emissions associated with Wind Farming in Australia".

Windfarms create high levels of infrasound and low level frequency noise. 

They say you can have a normal conversation standing underneath a wind turbine. 
Those who oppose the wind turbines say that these infrasonic frequencies might release endorphins that won't let people relax: it might interfere with our brain waves. There is much that we don't know yet about sound and all of its properties. What we do know is that coal can be hazardous for many reasons. It was certainly a respiratory hazard, with other adverse health effects, acknowledged by  the Royal Commission into the Hazelwood Open Cut Mine Fire in 2014.  

Sound can be classified into different frequencies. The frequency is the speed at which it vibrates per second: Interestingly, Hertz is the German word for Heart. I remember at University delighting in the coincidence: the possibility that something at a higher frequencies might have a higher “Heart"
Just so you know...
Infrasonic: below 20z
Ultrasonic: above 20000 Hz
Supersonic: (faster than the speed of light). 

Where I am living in the urban bush (the middle of a State Park) presently, there are 3 sonic mice repellants plugged into wall sockets. Apparently, they are working well here, as before there were lots of mice in the house. I haven’t seen any, nor heard any (which is nice!). It seems like the dawn of a new implementation of technology, with sound being used to repel many animals. Using a phone app can exude the correct infrasonic frequency to repel mosquitoes. The mosquito frequency sits between 9.6 and 18.2 Hz depending upon the many factors that affect when mosquitoes come out to eat. Mice frequency sits higher at 32-62 Hz. And, just for some extra knowledge those dog and cat whistles are ultrasonic, being at 20000-25000Hz, out of our human hearing range. Check out our human Ranges of Hearing.

Just because we can’t hear something as humans, doesn’t mean it is not “hearable” (audible) It still means that it exists and we may just need the correct instruments to measure the sonic patterns. It can still affect us, possibly in both positive and negative ways. Here is a great story of a hearing impaired man who is recording the wifi landscape.  Wifi also has an infrasonic frequency and it is growing rapidly around us. Most homes these days in our modern, urban world are connected to Wifi and yet no one says their Wifi is noisy. (They may and do voice concerns about it in our environment).

We have found and are still finding all sorts of uses for these sound frequencies. 

As I sit here writing this, I have the crackle of the open fire, birds singing in the late pre-spring sun and the constancy of the Yarra River that never seems to stop making sound. I have been wondering whether the river is classified as white "noise", or pink "noise". As the river is near the rapids, apparently, it is more like red noise. It is loud and constant and took me a long while to get used to it.  I wrote a poem about the sleepless nights, called RiverBed.

All these colours remind me that there are rainbows of colour in light and that through the light we can see the colour. Messiaen was certainly a composer who used particular scales as they represented particular colours, and it is the Synesthete who often will say they see colours when they hear music. How exactly are light and sound related, and how do we explore this in more depth? I am indeed curious. 

The many different coloured noises are also amazing. Pink noise is white noise, with a predominance of lower frequencies so it sounds deeper.Pink noise affects tides and river heights, our heart beat, and the firings of single neurons. Pink noise can be found in pitch and loudness variations in speech and music.

White noise has been used as a remedy for tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and some people turn their radios to off the dial to get this white noise, and there are a multitude of you tube videos as well as sleep CD's to assist those who hear the constant zing. 

There is a voice and speech exercise that focuses on garnering the breath to sustain fricative sounds. The first is ssssss, which is “white noise” The second is shshshsh, which is pink noise.

Interestingly, a study in one of the big four banks here in Australia revealed that with piping pink noise through their speakers, there were less reported complaints. So perhaps pink noise is a key in achieving harmony…So much yet to discover about these frequencies. 

Back to wind farms....Engineers are looking to Owls for creating  the best blade design for wind farms, as Owls are renowned for hunting and flying soundlessly and they are keen to make blades that emit the smallest amount of "noise". We are on the cusp of this new advancing technology. 

What are your thoughts?


 The river of Sound
is endless.
Never ceasing
At night
In the dark
It feels like it is running
Through my bed
Through my head
Through my clothes
In my toes
The sound
The noise.

Breathing in to welcome the day
Breathing out
The river
The stream
The consciousness
The very life of this city
Is outside my window
Flowing to the sea.

It bursts along
Droplets flowing
Never knowing
The sound they’re making
In a quaking
Me into another night
Of no sleep.

The presence of the sound is strong
In the valley
With the birds
With the trees
Nature delights

Nature’s delight