Sound Detectives, Mount St Catherines Primary

•April 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The second school I visited was Mount St Catherine’s, where as before I played sounds from the project to the class. They were then asked ..

What the sound was?

and, or

Where they might hear the sound?

I have picked some of the best drawings and written answers from Mount St Catherine’s Primary school…

Marie Cawly                                                         Rebecca

Nadine Davidson                                          Justine Mazikaite

Tristan Corvan                                                       Rebecca Morris

Chloe Nikita Wong                                             Mateuz

Shanina McGuigan                                      Alanah McQuade

Demi-Lee Jones                                                            Nauris

Sound Dawn Chorus, played

I can hear a bird tweeting, I can also hear a stream in the background……Chloe Farley

I think it is some type of very noisy bird with a river in the background……Orla McG

Sound Armagh Prison, played

A person walking down a school hall and lockers slamming and a care taker going into an empty room and going down a wooden staircase, A school hall where lockers are and an empty room………………………………………………………………………Alex Connolly

Some one walking deeply and scary noises, ghost house or train…………..Chloe Graham

Bats and eagles, the sea…………………………………………………………………….Sara McKenna

Sound Church Bells, played

Church Bells ringing, people ringing church bells……………………………..Caitlin Criozier

I can hear bells at St. Malachy’s mass, a bell…………………………………Aaron Basketfields

Sound shops setting up for the day, played

I can hear a trolley, the shop………………………………………………………………..Megan Toal

Sound Market place theatre show, played

I can hear laughing, Show……………………………………………………………….Annie Jackson

Sound Jimmy the white cockatoo, played

A pet in the pet shop, give me a kiss……………………………………………………………Emma

Thank you for all your hard work and great drawings, p5 Mount St Catherine’s.

Sound Dectectives, Armstrong Primary

•April 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was lucky enough to meet with a class from Armstrong and Mount Saint Catherine Schools during this project. Each class listened as I played ten different sounds specially picked from our sound recordings.

They were asked to identify the sound?

or,

Where it might of come from?

they were asked to write or draw on a questionnaire what they thought the sounds could be…..

Some of the best answers from Armstrong Primary School, can you guess the sound????

Michelle                                                 Lucy Irwin

Leah McMahon

What sounds can you hear?

Sound dawn chorus, played…..

Birds, Crows, Robins, Black Birds, Blue Tits………………Abby

Blue Tits, Swifts, Sparrows…………………………………………Adam Menary

Birds singing, a Wood precker……………………………………Amy Woods

Sound Armagh Prison, played….

Drum, chains banging, foot steps, the jail………………….Dylan Gillanders

Person walking,metal doors closing, keys jangling, the jail…………Lauren

Person walking banging chains, jail……………………….Jamie-lee Mc Ilveen

Sound Church Bells, played

Ding- Dong, bell…………………………………………………………………..Mathew

Loud clock, church…………………………………………………………..Hally- Jayne

Clang, Bell…………………………………………………………………….Dylan Calvin

Sound shops setting up for the day, played

Trolley, Shops…………………………………………………………………Lucy Finney

Trolley, supermarket……………………………………………………………..Gareth

Trolley, Shop……………………………………………………………………….Michelle

Sound Gaelic Football Match, played

People shouting, clapping , referee blowing his whistle…Katelyn Johnston

People playing football, people clapping, people shouting

a whistle……………………………………………………………………………….Madison

Clapping, Shouting, Whistle, rugby or football match…………………….Aaron

Sound the Market Place theatre audience.

laughing, at home………………………………………………………………….Michelle

People laughing, Puppet Show……………………………………………Lucy Finney

People laughing at a comedy, at a comedy show……………….Simon Rolston

Sound Jimmy the white cockatoo

A cartoon character,A bird, From boomerang a silly bird……Esther Buick

A parrot, chubby Jimmy, bye bye, hello………………………………………….Paige

Parrot, gave me a kiss…………………………………………………………………Harry

Thank you so much for all of your hard work p5 HH Armstrong Primary.

Reflection

•March 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As the sound recording phase comes to and end I feel a mixture of emotions . As I will definitely miss the kindness and enthusiasm which met me at every turn, and now as the production nears completion, I feel a mounting sense of excitement as the installation date moves closer.

When Robert and I first arrived in Armagh it was obvious that with so many interesting aspects to the city and surrounding area, the possibilities would be endless. We used the two rivers running either side of the city as the perimeter within which we could focus.

When the project began I had initially struggled with how I would explain such an abstract idea; involving identifying and capturing the sounds of the city. This effectively meant ambushing  unsuspecting bystanders going about their daily business. Unsurprisingly I was often met with quizzical looks but when I further explained that the sounds they many even be accustomed to in their day-to-day lives were the very gems we were after, people went extraordinary lengths to help.

Many of the relationships formed through the process are not represented in the collection of sounds, passers-by, shop owners and business people often helped  shape and inform project at every stage with their vast knowledge and expertise. Although this group may not have a sound in the installation they should know that they contributed immensely to project and guided us through a process which has enabled us to produce a true acoustic reflection of the fabric of Armagh City.

Throughout the whole investigation and recording process I was welcomed into uniquely different worlds, it was a truly humbling experience being granted access to things that few people ever see. At times I was pinching myself at the extent to which they generosity shared their specialist knowledge and experience and of course the amount of their valuable time they devoted to the project.

My methods and experience of collecting good quality sound recording improved vastly over the course of the project, under the guidance of the multi talented Robert Jarvis who was the lead artist in this collaboration.

A big thank you to Robert and all the people of Armagh who were instrumental in making this project happen. Unfortunately it would be impossible to thank you all by name , but I guess you know who you are.

Just a few highlights and experiences I will never forget

Recording my first dawn chorus waist-high in a river near  St Luke’s Hospital

A guided tour of Armagh Prison complete with sound effects by an unfortunate little dog who had managed to get trapped in the prison, I was just glad my tour guide was there, freaky.

Being 30 ft up in a cherry picker’ of sorts, seeing Armagh take the title in the All Ireland street bowling competition.

Visiting Mount St Catherine’s and Armstrong primary schools for workshops.

Meeting and chatting with Mick Toner the grave-digger.

Meeting the fonts of knowledge who are Gabriel Mullan, Isaac Beattie and Greer Ramsey.

Meeting Jimmy the nineteen year old cockatoo. Who wanted me to kiss him but  guess he says that to all the girls.

Meeting Dara Vallely of the Armagh Rhymers who was so generous with is time, knowledge and musical talents.

The Armagh Rhymers for the best session I ever been to at the Station bar.

Eamon Curran, John Vallely and the Armagh Pipers.

Meeting both watches at the fire station, who went above and beyond the call of duty, carrying out drills as well as giving me an insight into the life of a Fire Fighter. I even managed to nab a lift in the Fire Engine with sirens blurring. I don’t know if it was the huge physical size of the cab or just the whole experience but I felt as though I was four years old again, unable to contain my excitement, grinning so much my face ached for the rest of the day. I think there would be enough material to do an entire project based on the station and the lives of the fire fighters.

Last but not least I would like to thank Willie Nugent a local legend who has worked tirelessly raising funds for good causes for an impossibly long time, for such a young man.

I could go on, I have some many amazing memories of Armagh City and its people which will stay with me long after the projects completion…..

Armaghs Best Kept Secret ?

•February 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Once again I had the pleasure of meeting up with Dara Vallely, Peter Shortall, John Nixon and the rest of the usual suspects known the world over as the ‘Armagh Ryhmers’; for their weekly session in the back room of the Station Bar in Armagh City. It was definitely the best nights crack  I’ve had in years…

“Crack”  of course meaning a great time was had by all, not to be confused with other uses of the same word, I’ve made this mistake a few times…. peoples mouths dropping open when I habitually ask, where the best crack is ? – on my travels outside Ireland.

As I listened to the Rhymers converse in Irish I was completely immersed in the intimate atmosphere when their musical journey through ancient and some more modern traditional music began. I became so absorbed in the music I had once been surrounded by, yet hadn’t heard in what felt like a life time; that I have to admit I just left the sound recorder on a table in the middle of pew which was now filled with diverse instruments and multi talented musicians and just pressed record…..

I had barely noticed the room fill until packed to capacity with regulars and some from just about every community imaginable; most of which I had no idea made up the population of Armagh City. The Rhymers were so open and welcoming, encouraging anyone to join in with their impressive range of singers and musicians.

As the night progressed the oldest Rhymer a very young ninety-five year old lady ‘Mrs Hughes’ captivated the audience with her word-perfect recital of a traditional Irish story setting the scene for her son; who it has to be said  has the voice of an angel, stunned the background hum to complete silence with his song.

Unbelievably Mrs Hughes had been to the screening of “2012” at the Cinema in the city centre the night before….. I was blown away, what an amazing lady !!

As night closed in more musicians with different instruments including the ‘Bones’, ‘Mandolin’, ‘Banjos’, ‘Concertinas’ and Uilleann Pipes arrived and joined the circle of  Rhymers who were now completely surrounded by the crowd. I didn’t want to disturb the Rhymers to say goodbye, this looked like home for them as they carried on belting out the music into the wee small hours- truth be told I felt like a bit of a light weight when I slipped of home but I knew I had another busy day ahead.

Mount St Catherine’s Primary School

Feeling slightly fuzzy from the night before and even with map in hand , I managed to get lost on my way to Mount St Catherine’s School the next day. I nearly missed my session with Mrs Nicholls Primary Five class.

In the end I was so glad to have had a chance to work with this bright and very creative class, I could have stayed even longer, had it not been for the home time bells ringing as we finished the Listening Exercises.

The class where so engaging and enthusiastic I would have loved more time to discuss some of their theories and stories that came up quite naturally within the session, but alas it was home time . I was kicking myself that I had not allowed more time between the recording and interviews from earlier in the day.

I hope I will return to Mount St Catherine’s and Armstrong Primary Schools one day….. they both have a very welcoming atmosphere and a diverse approach to all aspects of learning which seemed to radiate a great buzz within their very walls.

I will definitely be back at the Station Bar the next Tuesday night I am available for another live session, the music and the ‘crack was ninety !!’, or is that (‘naughty’ ?) although some how that just doesn’t sound quiet the right …..

I can’t help wondering if maybe there aren’t more little gems like this going on right under my nose, which somehow I have managed to miss, please do let me know !!!

Stars Of The Future !!

•December 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It felt like it must be the coldest morning this winter when I arrived  at Armstrong Primary School, next to the Cities famous Observatory.

A quick investigation of the playground and out buildings revealed  two great hiding places for my sound recorders; which I placed just out of sight at opposite ends of the playground. I hoped they would capture the sounds of the bell ringing and the children out enjoying their morning break, now frozen I made a hasty retreat for the warmth of the main school building.

Once inside the atmosphere could not have differed more from the cold biting frost outside, the staff were so accommodating, within minutes I was holding cake in one hand and a steaming hot mug of tea in the other. Just as I was getting used to the VIP treatment, the bell rang and break time was over, it was time to meet the class I would be working with for the afternoon, P5 HH.

I handed out my worksheets and quickly set up my equipment, at last I was ready to play the first sound of the day. This sound was intended  as a way of  engaging their imaginations rather than a test of their sound recognition skills, how wrong was I !!

I had been sure that nobody would be able to guess what the sound was, as it is not normally audible to the human ear and had to be specially processed and prepared for the project by Robert.  I was absolutely flabbergasted, when I picked a girl from back of the class to answer  and she immediately replied  “its bats feeding”. She was absolutely right, as it was in fact the sound of bats feeding under the bridge on the Callan River .

The class were to continue to surprise and impress me all afternoon, I could hardly believe how keen and imaginative they were.  It was difficult to give everyone a turn to guess what the sounds were and where they came from, amongst a constant sea of raised hands. It was an absolute delight to work with Armstrong’s p5HH and their wonderful teacher, I will be returning this week to see what my newly trained sound detectives have collected as part of their contribution to Armaghoclcok Project.

I can’t wait !!

Next stop the Market Place Theatre and for the second time in one day I was to be truly floored, when I joined Sonia Steward and her toe tapping, pirouetting circle of tiny angels. Most of the class looked barely old enough to have successfully navigated the skill of walking, yet here they were tap and ballet dancing with such ease, strength and agility I could barely believe my eyes.

These tiny dancers were my first taste of what goes on within the Market Place Theatre, their skills and ability like the next group I met were due in no small part to the caliber and enthusiasm of their instructors.

With the splish splash of tiny tap shoes still ringing in my ears I met yet another talented bunch in the form of the Market Place Youth Theatre. The Youth Theatre are a lively group of aspiring performers who very graciously give me a full vocal warm up in the middle of their final rehearsal session. Jim McKeown lead the group effortlessly into the very complex challenging warm ups and no doubt through to their final big performance. The hard work and dedication these ‘typically time challenged teens’ had committed to the workshops was obvious in their confident, effortless performance and perhaps most importantly of all they seemed to be having an absolute ball!

The children of Armstrong Primary were to pleasantly surprise me again before the day was done. They had not only found one of my ‘skillfully’ hidden sound recorders…..but knew exactly what it was and even discussed what it might be there for. Finally they decided that it must have been put there to record anyone using bad language. I could scarcely  believe my ears when I listened back to my recordings at the end of the day.

New Kids on the Block !!

•November 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I went to the shoe repair shop today so I could record some of the different types of machinery whilst they were being used to sand, buff and sew shoes in for repair.  McKerrs workshop has some beautiful machinery and equipment which is now operated mostly by the owners son who has learned in the time-honoured tradition of passing skills from father to son. One machine in particular for sewing soles on caught my eye, unbelievably its over fifty years old !!

What at a beauty!

machine and shoe

machine detail1

shop interior

The shop has been open  since 1959 when perhaps things had to be repaired rather than replaced; now in the current climate it provides us with actual examples of working businesses with recycling and repair at their very core. Danny Smiths a nearby  shop owner with a similar ideology at its core has been open for sixty-three years, meaning their joint experience in business spans over a century, with the added experience a World War and the Great Depression under their belts. Danny’s shop also maintains another vital mode of transport which but puts the ‘cycle’ quiet literally in ‘recycle’ ; selling and repairing bicycles in Armagh city. Danny can be seen sitting in the open door way of his shop everyday, no body passes without saying hello or passing the time of day. When I turned up with my microphones and cameras he asked if I was from ‘This Is Your Life’……………..

danny in his shop shop

P9103634

Hopefully the powers that be can rectify this great injustice immediately !!perhaps they should also nip over the road with the ‘Big Red Book’ to McKerr’s shop, that really would be worth seeing, Start here….

outside shop crop

Armagh Rhymers

•September 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

I couldn’t believe my luck when I got a contact number for Dara Vallely of the Armagh Ryhmers and was invited along to meet him at his home near Armagh City centre,were I hoped to get a short interview and hopefully get a few sound recordings. When I eventually arrived after a few t many wrong turns a countless phone conversations I feared his nerves would be so fred he may not even see me. I didn’t expect Dara would be quiet so down to earth and warmly welcomed me into his home, soon all the worries of the journey and the whole day in fact soon disappeared. We began to chat about the project and how I might be possible to find and produce sounds that would describe the essence of the famous “Ryhmers”. I think on reflection was extremely ambitious notion, true to form there I was attempting a feet first, approach !!, thankfully Dara had taken the time to collect and prepare a selection of instruments for recording.

The Armagh Ryhmers have a huge variety of skills and mediums through which they have entertained , informed and enchanted both adults and children alike the world over .  Dara played several of the instruments that he uses such as the ‘Bones’, ‘Bells’, ‘The Wedding Horn’ and the ‘bodhran’; each of these beautiful instruments play important a role in the shows, performances and story telling.

BonesBoron

The thing that surprised me most about the instruments and models was the relationship he had with each of them, instead of being the ‘protector of them’,it was clear that all of these things where very much to be enjoyed, touched and played. Many of the objects and instruments have been collected from the journeys and expeditions which the Armagh Ryhmers have made all over the world, using their shared passion, wisdom many talents they have provided the world with a unique insight and joy in Armaghs rich traditional history and identity.

'Mask' puppet1

The objects and instruments which fill Dara’s workshop are so unusual and unique most people would I fear keep them under lock and key were there true preciousness wold never be discovered. I feel almost child like for a moment a then remember that universal ‘Don’t touch !!’ rule which followed me around like cloud, or was it more like a ‘burning sensation around the ear’ ……. anyway today, now, those rules don’ t apply here ! ………….. ha!

As an adult now though I know or rather can explain that through touch the meaning, level of understanding and learning is engaged on a deeper level and am sure that each instrument, mask or puppet has been touched by hundreds of little hands that have explored and enjoyed them over the years. Not that ‘many’ of course oops! there goes my invite back.

Dara has a tremendous gift of making one feel at ease, hours passed like minutes as we ate the contents of his fridge and chatted well though the best part of day.

Hairy Scary

So until we meet again Thank you for all your effort and kindness, and your generosity in abolishing the “don’t touch policy!” and the resulting unquantifiable legacy enjoyed by countless tiny mitts the world over..