Soundcamp 2016

Stave Hill Ecology Park, London, UK

Sun 01 May 2016 (00:00)

A talk on the 18th century practice of teaching songbirds human tunes. For Soundcamp 2016, a worldwide celebration of the dawn chorus.

There’s more to the dawn chorus than just birds, say aural art collective SoundCamp. They’re marking International Dawn Chorus Day across April 31st-May 1st with overnight camps across the UK and a 24 hour broadcast of daybreak around the world.

The sounds will be collated at the Stave Hill Ecology Park in Rotherhithe, London, and sent to upstate New York to be broadcast via arts organisation Wavefarm.

I’ll be there on Sunday, discussing the curiously close links between birds song acquisition and sound recording. Long before the advent of the phonograph (the first machine to record and playback sound), people trained caged birds to sing fashionable melodies so they could hear them on command in the home.

Bird recordist Geoff Sample, field recordist for Kate Bush and John Cage, will be leading a 4:30am dawn chorus walk and Rob St John will be talking about the sounds of the docks and ponds around Rotherhithe.

“We pick up daybreak segments from around the world, from bird cams and hydrophones stuck off an island somewhere, as well as from artists,” says Dawn Scarfe, who records guerilla-style ‘bivvy broadcasts’ from forests around England.

There will also be the sound of the electromagnetic dawn chorus – the natural radio waves and ionic activity generated when the sun hits the electromagnetic sphere – and air traffic intercepts collected by plane spotters. The Rotherhithe camp has workshops celebrating field recording and bird identification, as well as the global broadcast, streamed into two bell tents on the site. Food at the London camp will be provided by The Philosopher’s Stove, who recreate and serve up ancient Greek dishes.

“It’s not about spectating nature, it’s about getting in there and trying stuff out,” says SoundCamp co-founder Grant Smith.

SoundCamps are confirmed in the South West, in Cumbria, on Camber Sands with SoundArt Radio, and at other locations around the country. People are welcome to join a local camp, or to set up their own by contacting contact@soundtent.org.

Stave Hill Ecology Park, Salter Road Rotherhithe, London, UK

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