Nimbus | September 2014
Free sonic paintbox app featuring Chris Watson’s sound recordings – available from September
Chris Watson has been working in collaboration with arts collective The Nimbus Group to create a new immersive sound painting app featuring Watson’s precise and stark sound recordings of the natural world.
Nimbus uses experimental approaches to transport users to places and experiences including: the inside of an animal carcass as it is being eaten, a Mozambique Nightjar singing on the banks of the Zambezi, and a family of elephants sleeping in grassland on the Massai Mara.
Nimbus will be available for free download from The Nimbus Group website from 10 September 2014.
You can read more here
One Minute of Listening
Minute of Listening is an exciting and innovative project that has the potential to provide all primary-aged children with the opportunity to experience sixty seconds of creative listening each day of the school year. By downloading a simple application to their laptops, desktops or interactive whiteboards, teachers can bring a wealth of sonic resources into their classrooms.
For a full list of contributors:
Inside the Circle of Fire | Port Eliot Festival 24th - 27th July 2014
A sound map of Sheffield via its famous river systems and concluding in the Megatron
The Acoustic City
This book is now for sale in the TouchShop, where you can find more information and track listing on the CD, including a track recorded by Chris Watson...
The Acoustic City consists of a series of cutting-edge essays on sound and the city accompanied by a specially commissioned CD with field recordings, compositions, and music. The book will comprise five thematic sections: sound mappings including cartographic and conceptual approaches to the representation and interpretation of soundscapes; sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound; acoustic flânerie and the recording of urban sounds (including bats, birds and urban nature) as well as reflections on the “auditory self” with links to cultural history and literary theory; acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design; and the politics of sound extending to human well-being, noise abatement, and the changing characteristics of ambient sound. This innovative essay collection will be of interest to a wide range of disciplines including architecture, cultural studies, geography, musicology and urban sociology.
Jerwood Open Forest
Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) and Chris Watson collaborating with producer Iain Pate have been awarded two major commissions totalling £60,000 through the inaugural Jerwood Open Forest initiative.
The announcement was made at Jerwood Space, London on 11 February 2014 by selector and artist, Tania Kovats. The selected proposals will be produced and realised within England’s Public Forest Estate, continuing a national conversation about how contemporary visual artists engage with the environment today.
To find out more about Jerwood Open Forest and follow the progress of the two winning commissions visit www.jerwoodopenforest.org.
Handel Fellow at the Foundling Museum
The Foundling Museum has announced the appointment of the 2014 Foundling Fellows, joining the Fellowship in the 10th anniversary year of the Foundling Museum in London.
Artist Cornelia Parker, named as Hogarth Fellow
Poet Lemn Sissay, named as Coram Fellow
Musician and sound recordist Chris Watson, named as Handel Fellow
Each Fellow will undertake a project for the Museum with special relevance to children, inspired by the principles of philanthropy and creativity of the great founding figures of the original Foundling Hospital, Thomas Coram, William Hogarth, and George Frideric Handel.
Chris's project celebrates International Dawn Chorus day on 4 May 2014 and will see Chris work with young people to record the dawn and evening chorus of birds, as well as other sounds, in the local area around the Museum. His idea is to compare the sounds of today with the sounds of the Foundling Hospital estate in the 18th Century and we hope to find out if the wild and urban sounds the foundlings heard in then are different to today. The work will be edited and turned into a sound piece. The final piece is intended to be played on radio stations, including Resonance FM, and will be exhibited in the Introductory Gallery at the Museum.
INTERMÈDES GÉOGRAPHIQUES | France Summer 2014
“The Songs of the Sands in the Forest”- du 7/06 au 5/10/2014.
Vernissage le 7 juin 2014
Paysage sonore insolite, à la croisée de l’Afrique du Nord et de la Franche-Comté, l’installation de Chris Watson est à la fois écho et célébration des grands mouvements de populations et des migrations saisonnières. L’artiste à choisi de mixer des sons recueillis par le passé dans les montagnes de l’Atlas à ceux prélevés au printemps dans la forêt de Chaux lors de sa résidence, pour offrir une approche poétique du nomadisme, une mémoire sonore des hommes et des territoires traversés.
WORKSHOP DE CHRIS WATSON À LA SALINE ROYALE
Une première en France!
Accès libre et places limitées!
Le 18 avril de 14h30 à 16h30
Slow University ll | Durham 11th March 2014
12:00 to 16:15, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College, Durham
The second inter-disciplinary seminar in the SLOW University series is organised in collaboration between: the School of Applied Social Sciences, the Ustinov Seminar Series and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). The SLOW movement promotes a socio-cultural shift towards slowing down the pace of work, life and consumption and providing a counter narrative to processes of globalization. Chris Watson’s SLOW sound walks [in seminar one from palace Green to Ustinov College] enabled a slowing down and tuning in to the signature sounds of the spaces and places along the route.
It is clear that these lines of thinking, dialogue and creative application are gathering momentum. The purpose of the second seminar on the SLOW University at Durham [that will then travel to other collaborating Universities] is to harness these dialogues and ask - What does it mean if we take a look at the University and our relationship to as academics and researchers in relation to time, speed and SLOW? What new philosophies, practices, structures and governance might emerge?
Cryptic Night, Glasgow | March 6th 2014
Mirror Lands is a film and sound installation exploring diverse relationships to place on The Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland.
Venue: CCA, Glasgow
Date: 7 - 9 March, 2014
Time: Friday - Saturday: 11-6pm Sunday: 12-6pm
Thursday 6 March / 20.00 / £5 / Screening and Q&A with Cathy Lane and Chris Watson
Booking: Book Tickets here
Hy Brasil | Opera North, Leeds 28th Feb - 15th March
The isle is full of noises
Howard Assembly Room, Opera North, Leeds
Friday 28 February to Saturday 15 March
2pm - 8pm (runs on a 30 minute loop)
Open to the public Tuesdays - Saturdays
Hy Brasil is a mysterious, enchanted island, hidden in fog somewhere off the coast of Ireland. It reveals itself to human eye and ear just one day every seven years. This specially commissioned work by sound artist Chris Watson (BBC TV’s award-winning Frozen Planet), brings that day on Hy Brasil to life in an immersive sound installation.
Hy Brasil is composed of compelling wildlife sounds from around the world, drawing visitors deep into the haunting song of seals and the awe-inspiring shrieks of thousands of Manx shearwaters. With glorious ambi-sonic sound and beautiful lighting, lose yourself in the strange and magical world of Hy Brasil.
Supported by the Opera North Future Fund, The Emerald Foundation and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Audio equipment supported by Pro Audio
Watch | The Sage, Gateshead 16th March 2014
This new commission by Chris Watson captures the voices and rhythms locked inside the Dunstanburgh Diamonds, presenting an ambisonic soundscape of Embleton Bay, from Low Newton to Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland. These ancient black dolerite stones are part of the Great Whin Sill, which lies exposed along parts of the coast whilst the surrounding landscape has been eroded around it. Countless tides have shaped the Whin Sill into smooth boulders that murmur, groan and growl with each passing ebb and flow. This new composition extracts the spirit of historic events and memories that have been stored in the stones for generations.
This event is part of the Digging for Sound weekends of new commissions, concerts and walks focusing on the geology, topography and mining legacy of the North East England landscape.
(See entry below for details)
Searching for Diamonds | AV Festival March 2014
These sound walks with Chris Watson explore the particular sounds stored along Embleton Bay, which have informed his new Festival commission. The guided walks will begin at Low Newton and end at Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.
The new commission captures the voices and rhythms locked inside the Dunstanburgh Diamonds, from Low Newton to Dunstanburgh Castle. These ancient black dolerite stones are part of the Great Whin Sill, which lies exposed along parts of the coast whilst the surrounding landscape has been eroded around it. Countless tides have shaped the Whin Sill into smooth boulders that murmur, groan and growl with each passing ebb and flow. The new composition extracts the spirit of historic events and memories that have been stored in the stones for generations.
This event is part of their Digging for Sound weekends of new commissions, concerts and walks focusing on the geology, topography and mining legacy of the North East England landscape.
£5, limited capacity
Sat 15 March and Sat 22 March 2014
Sat 15 March 2014, 9am
Sat 22 March 2014, 9am
Low Newton Carpark
Meet at car park at
University of Glasgow Concert Hall | Glasgow 11th February 2014
PULSE and The University of Glasgow present Chris Watson, who will be performing "Songs from the Silverbank"
Tuesday 11 February 2014, 7.30pm
University of Glasgow Concert Hall
7:30pm Q&A with Mike Harding (including audience questions)
8:45pm "Songs from the Silverbank"
You can read an article in the Glasgow Herald
Nature, BBC Radio 4 Tuesday 4 February 2014
A new series of Nature starts on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 4 February, 11.02am, presented by and featuring wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson.
Nature, BBC Radio 4 Tue 4 Feb , 11.02am Islands of Ice and Fire
In the first of new series of Nature, we join wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson in Iceland. When it comes to dynamic landscapes, there’s perhaps nowhere in the world more exciting than Iceland; with it vast groaning glaciers, spouting geysirs, thundering glacial waterfalls, hissing thermal vents and erupting volcanoes – and it’s the sounds of this landscape which Chris is keen to capture. But there are other sounds too; and on a hillside behind Husavik on the North coast Chris is astonished by the density of birds ; snipe, whimbrel, redwing, golden plover and redshank “ At first, it’s not apparent when you just look round, but what you really need to do is just listen” he says.
Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
Nature - BBC Radio 4 Tue 11 Feb, 11.02am Arctic Terns at 66 degrees North
In the second of three programmes about the natural history of Iceland, Chris goes in search of Arctic Terns – which travel to Iceland from Antarctica to breed; the longest regular migration of any animal. Some birds travel even further – to the Arctic circle, and so on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, Chris takes a 3 hour ferry journey to the island of Grimsey which lies on the Arctic Circle to see and record some of these remarkable long distance migrants; birds which see more daylight than any other creature, as they enjoy a southern summer and then a northern summer each year.
Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
NATURE BBC Radio 4 Tue 18 Feb 11.02am In search of Humpback whales
Every year between January and April, Humpback whales from all around the North Atlantic Ocean gather in an area called Silver Bank 100km north of the Dominican Republic to breed. After calving, the whales migrate north from these lower latitudes to their high latitude, summer feeding grounds.
In June, Chris travelled to Husavik on the north coast of Iceland where he joined a whale watching trip to look for Humpback whales on their summer feeding grounds – and perhaps even see some of the same animals which he had recorded on their breeding grounds earlier in the year.
Presenter Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
A Life in Sound
A selection of progammes and soundscapes featuring sound recordist Chris Watson.
Foundling Museum's 2014 Fellowship
CORNELIA PARKER, LEMN SISSAY, CHRIS WATSON - ANNOUNCED AS 2014 FELLOWS FOR FOUNDLING MUSEUM’S 10th ANNIVERSARY YEAR
The Foundling Museum has announced the appointment of the 2014 Foundling Fellows, joining the Fellowship in the 10th anniversary year of the Foundling Museum in London and also coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the death of William Hogarth, whose donation of paintings to the Hospital laid the foundations of the collection of the Museum.
You can read the full press release here
Sounds Alive, Dublin | 31st January 2014
David Attenborough: My Life In Sound
In an exclusive interview for BBC Radio 4, David Attenborough talks to Chris Watson about his life in sound.
One of Sir David's first jobs in natural history filmmaking was as a wildlife sound recordist. Recorded in Qatar, Sir David is with Chris Watson (a current wildlife sound recordist), and is there to make a film about a group of birds he is passionate about, The Bird of Paradise. It is in Qatar where the world’s largest captive breeding population is and it is in this setting Chris takes Sir David back to the 1950s and his early recording escapades, right through to today where Sir David narrates a series of Tweet Of The Days on Radio 4 across the Christmas and New Year period.
Presenter/ Chris Watson, Producer/ Julian Hector for the BBC
The Sound of One Ant Walking | Radio Times December 2013
Chris Watson, who has worked on Attenborough's Frozen Planet and Life in the Undergrowth, shares a remarkable insight into sound recording, some exclusive clips - and his feelings about music in wildlife shows.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award 2013
Chris Watson has been awarded a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award 2013 for Composers, along with Emily Hall and Bryn Harrison
In Britten’s Footsteps | BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, Fri 15 Nov at 11.02am
To mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson follows in the footsteps of the composer, presenting a soundscape based on the daily walks which Britten took around Aldeburgh to reflect on his morning’s work.
Presenter and wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
The Slow University?
6th November 2013, 13:25 to 17:30, IAS, Palace Green, Durham
A Seminar organised in collaboration between: the School of Applied Social Sciences, the Ustinov Seminar Series and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). The SLOW movement promotes a socio-cultural shift towards slowing down the pace of work, life and consumption and providing a counter narrative to processes of globalization that Hale, Held and Young (2013) write about in ‘Gridlock’.
The Spectator | October 2013
"...The most extraordinary sound of the week was actually something so common and heard almost every day even by those mired in the inner city. Chris Watson, the sound recordist who to great effect spends days and nights outdoors making wildlife programmes, took his recording equipment into Newcastle’s Central Station. One evening, at dusk, after all the commuters had gone home, he picked up a single melody, the song of a blackbird. As Watson explained, ‘The song rolled down on to the track and filled the southern entrance to the station,’ echoing through the vast Victorian amphitheatre. This is why we keep listening — odd moments of pure sound, instant connection." [Kate Chisholm]
Touch presents... | Live in Lincoln Cathedral 19th October 2013
Two World Premieres from Chris Watson + Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Anna von Hausswolff
19th October 2013, 7:30 - 9:30pm, Lincoln Cathedral
Touch is delighted to be invited back to play live in Lincoln Cathedral by Frequency, after the hugely successful 13th edition of Spire, which took place in the same space, in October 2011. You can purchase tickets here.
Chris Watson (field recordings) and Hildur Guðnadóttir (cello) will be collaborating on a brand new collaborative multi-channel sound work, titled “Sönghellir (The Cave of Song)” – a sound journey from under the waters of Faxafloi, Iceland, alongside some of the largest animals on the planet. Up, onto the lava beach, across the lava fields and reindeer moss to the foot of the snow mountain, Snaefellsnes. The journey continues up and then into the mountain, ending inside Sönghellir, the song cave…
On a clear day in Reykjavik, one can gaze northwest and see the shining Snaefellsjokull glacier, 60 miles away. Though the glacier is nowhere near in size to some of Iceland’s others, it is by far the most mysterious and popular. It rests near lands end on one of Iceland’s most beloved landscapes – the Snaefellsnes Peninsula – and its bright, mysterious beauty seems to embody the entire region. One of the reasons why Icelander’s love the Snaefellsnes Peninsula so much (aside from its enchanting landscape brimming with lava caves, waterfalls, and mineral hot springs) is that it is a veritable heartland of history. Some of the best and most important sagas took place here, and it is said that Christopher Columbus once spent a winter in Ingjaldsholl, where he heard stories of lands to the west.
Anna von Hausswolff, a Swedish singer, pianist and songwriter, will be performing a new score for the organ, titled “Källan”.
The Eternal Chord, an improvisational work from some of the artists present, will close the evening.
Tweet of the Month | October 2013
Throughout October, Chris Watson presents Tweet of the Day for BBC Radio 4
Tweet of the Day is a series of fascinating stories about our British birds inspired by their calls and songs.
Radio 4 Tweet of the Day is a series of 90 second episodes broadcast on BBC Radio 4, every weekday Monday - Friday.
Each Radio 4 Tweet of the Day begins with a different call or song of a British species, followed by a story of fascinating ornithology inspired by the sound. The series will run for a year, amounting to 265 episodes in total, narrated by wildlife presenters.
Not only will the series feature songs or calls which you are likely to hear each month, but also offers a fascinating insight into the behaviour or habits of the bird, their literary or folklore associations, stories of science or conservation success.
Working with a team of wildlife sound recordists, Gary Moore, Geoff Sample, and Chris Watson as well as recordings from the Natural History Unit Sound Archive, this series written and produced by the BBC Natural History Unit is a wildlife treat.
The Station | BBC Radio 4 9th October 2013
BBC Radio 4
9th October 11am
Sound recordist Chris Watson captures 24 hours in the life of Newcastle Central Station.
A dynamic and powerful soundscape of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central Station using location recordings to tell a story of 24 hours in the life of this station – from the spring solo of a robin at dawn on the street outside to the pounding roar of the heavy goods trains which thunder along the rails past deserted platforms in the darkness of the night.
Watson regularly travels to and from this station and became fascinated by the sounds and acoustics of the building. So when he was granted permission to record inside, he leapt at the chance, visiting at various times during both day and night over several months, to capture the sounds within; from the quiet crackle of the overhead wires on a misty dawn morning to the terrifying roar and clamour of footballs fans and police dogs when Newcastle were playing at home to Sunderland, and the chanting voices and shouts of the fans overwhelmed even the sounds of the trains.
Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central Station was designed by John Dobson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.
Presenter: Chris Watson
Producer: Sarah Blunt for the BBC
HOLODISC | Radio Interview
You can hear an interview with Chris on Danish radio SNYK (in English)
In St Cuthbert's Time | BBC Radio 4 "Saturday Live"
You can listen to the programme here - Lindesfarne package starts at 32m56s
(and also mentioned on Chris Evans's BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show was "Inside the Cirfcle of Fire" - see below)
6th July 2013 – 30 September
10am – 4pm daily, Holy Cross Chapel, Durham Cathedral
There is also out now a new album released on Touch to coincide with this event.
Throughout human history artists have been influenced by their surroundings and the sounds of the landscape they inhabit.
When Eadfrith, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, was writing and illustrating the Lindisfarne Gospels on that island during the late 7thCentury and early 8thCentury he would have been immersed in the seasonal sounds around the island.
For ‘In St Cuthbert’s Time’, a collaboration with Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study, and other Durham-based researchers, artist Chris Watson has created a sound installation that reflects the acoustic landscape of that island during the time that the Lindisfarne Gospels were being considered, written and illustrated.
Durham Cathedral’s Holy Cross Chapel provides an inspiring location for quiet reflection and meditation on the sounds St Cuthbert and the other monks would have experienced for themselves.
The installation will run continuously on a loop lasting around forty to fifty minutes and reflect the seasonal changes of a year out on the island. It will be played at a very discrete level as the intention is to create an atmosphere within the Chapel as if the Chapel was on the island and the natural sounds of that place were percolating inside through the two large unglazed windows. The replay level and spatial representation of the work is key to its success.
Visitors will be able to engage in conversation without having to raise their voices, as the sounds will be audible simply at the level they would be experienced in reality. Those who choose to listen will be able to engage with the work in a way which encourages a creative thought process regarding the spirit and sense of place.
The Installation will run from 06 July 2013 - to 30 September 2013, daily between 10am and 4pm.
There is also out now a new album released on Touch to coincide with this event.
The Wild Sound of Chris Watson
By Ian Youngs
Chris Watson went from influential 1970s band Cabaret Voltaire to recording sound for David Attenborough's wildlife documentaries. Now the leading audio recordist has captured the sound of Sheffield for a "sound map" of his home city.
Chris Watson hears things that other people do not.
Well, we hear the same things. But Chris Watson listens...