A report on the Foghorn Requiem
When sound escapes the confines of a building, it takes on an unusual caste. At myriad outdoor festivals around the country, we’re in denial about this oddness as we amplify outdoor sound, add reverb and otherwise try to fake the effect of boxing it up in bricks and mortar. But for forty glorious minutes on Saturday 22 June, we heard sound in the open, in the wild – music that played the sky.
I was one of thousands of people who heard about the strangeness afoot on a cliff top in South Shields, England, last weekend. And by Thursday morning, despite a near-empty wallet, I knew I couldn’t resist the call to down tools and journey north to the scene of the Foghorn Requiem. For the foghorn is one of those most evocative of sounds, one that never fails to instil a sense of excited, anxious alertness. I live in Brighton, a seaside town on the south coast of England where we still have a foghorn in operation. When I hear its notes dissipating through the fret that sometimes descends on our city, I’m sure I’m not the only landlubber who pulls the duvet around me just a little more tightly, imagining ‘those in peril on the sea’.