The European Acoustic Heritage  encouraged composers and sound artists to make a composition based the keyword ‘water’ as a contest, this summer/atumn. Below is my contribution and a description of the collage.

Listen to the composition here (44kHz .wav-file)

The featured description:

The region of Lofoten in northern Norway has for thousands of years been an area where people have been living in symbiosis with the sea, continually surrounded by a soundscape of the ocean and the seas. Because of the geography, Lofoten is now a popular destination for tourists.

In this composition, I have used sounds which I have recorded in Flakstad island, Lofoten, covering Bernie Krause’s terms geophony, biophony and antrophony. I chose not to manipulate the sound objects other than simple dynamic editing (volume/fades), to preserve the authentic and natural impression of the soundscape. The recordings are made from my own human perspective – ashore.

I used four soundscape recordings (0:00-0:39, 0:35-0:52, 0:42-2:14, 1:48-3:52) by the water, covering the geophony, which throughout the whole piece is being heard. The first is basically the water hitting rocks, second is from the water and waves under a pier, the third is from a beach nearby, with oystercatchers hunting. The fourth is from the Flakstad beach, which during the summer is a popular tourist site.

The rhytmic sound of the old fishing boat engine audible from about 1:42 is to symbolize the antrophony, and our use of the ocean. Though might concidered a paradox, as the engine is run by diesel, the sound is mostly associated with living in harmony with the nature. It’s been quite a few discussions over the recent years, whether or not one should allow to search for oil in this area. Quite many people fear the possibility of negative consequences, such as pollution, scaring fish through seismic shooting, the impact on endangered species of birds, etc. The Lofoten islands is also a candidate for the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Birds, mostly seagulls, is a significant keynote sound in Lofoten, and represent the biophony and the biologi, to which the ocean serves.

Even though all of the four recordings of water were made not very far from each other in time and place, they obviously sound very different. The soundscape goes from quite calm to quite noisy. The last minute of the piece reflects the continuity of the soundscape of the ocean, but through the quite noisy sonic environment, that could even be mistaken for heavy traffic, it also reflects the cruelty of the ocean. It’s a well known saying in this coastal area: ‘the ocean gives, the ocean takes’.