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Call and Response

In my last Blog post I wrote about the intriguing recordings that I had taken at Xpo North and the interesting techniques and forms in traditional Scottish music, such as Mouth Music.

This caught my attention because in this round of the Aural Textiles Project I'm keen to explore representations of sounds of human origin. My first contribution to the project had been focused on the sound on Nature and Landscape, but of course the people of Scotland are integral to our Landscape.

To develop this strand of thinking I've recorded some local sounds from busy crowds in the summer season here at Loch Ness to our local volunteer fire service. These are vibrant and interesting recordings but I keep coming back to the sounds that make up our traditional music.

One of the ear catching features of traditional Scottish singing is the technique of Call and Response. The roots of this technique can still be heard in rural churches where a Lead Singer 'Calls' the first phrase and the congregation 'Respond' either repeating the phrase back or replying to it with a new phrase. This was a great technique if there was only one songbook for a congregation or only one reader. So it's not surprising that versions of Call and Response can be found in many religious settings around the world.

Popular music has also embraced the Call and Response technique, to engage audiences, amplify musical phrases and in some cases contribute to the composition. I'm fascinated by the idea that sound doesn't just originate from the performer, and that an active audience contribution becomes a vital element in the overall musical experience. I'm also exploring what happens to the sound, and subsequently the design piece, when that audience contribution is removed.

These explorations form the basis of these sample squares which are based on audience participation sounds at traditional Scottish Ceilidh dances.

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