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Inside Southwark Cathedral

Inside Southwark Cathedral
21st March 2017 Cities and Memory

Today we’re inside one of London’s grandest spiritual spaces, Southwark Cathedral, to hear some of its impressive, cavernous musical sounds.

The first field recording is from a musical performance taking place in the middle of the day in the cathedral, in front of an audience of schoolchildren out on a school trip. At the end of the performance, applause and some words from the priest.

We’ve reimagined this one by taking some of the musical elements, slowing them dramatically and applying various effects to create a bed of ambient drones, over which we slowly reintroduce pulses, fragments and snippets of the original musical piece as we go along, building through a gradual crescendo.

City version:

Memory version:

The second field recording by Maria Papadomanolaki takes in the cathedral’s impressive organ during a rehearsal, and has been tackled by two artists.

First of all, Peter Nagle writes: “I like to work with locally sourced ingredients, so a recording made in Southwark, an area I’ve spent a lot of time in over the years, appealed.

“Everything in this piece is derived from that recording, using a combination of cutting and splicing, stretching and filtering, and collage.

“There’s something about sitting in a church or cathedral, hearing an organ being played that’s not for you, just something you’re eavesdropping on.

“It makes me think of the comfort of quiet prayer, a comfort that’s not altogether negated by my firm conviction that there is nothing and nobody hearing it, and that these quiet pleas are evaporating into void.”

City version:

Memory version one:

Aengus Friel constructs this story around his reimagined version of the sound: “This piece I’ve created is influenced by a postcard given to me by my mother around Christmas time. It was a postcard she got as a child from an old woman who lived down past the glen within the parish we grew up in.

“The postcard is from 1939 which contained a brief short English folklore tale about ‘The Legend of the Lincoln Imp’.

“The words transcribed from the postcard say “The Legend runs that one day the devil was in for a frolic, and let out all his young demons. One jumped into the sea without getting wet. Another into a furnace and was in his element, one rode on a rainbow. Another played with fork lighting. Another went up in the breeze and was carried to the old Lindum.

“The Imp said “Take me into the Church and I will knock over his Lordship and blow up the Dean, Organist, and singers, and knock out the windows and put out the lights.” The angel angrily cried “Stop! You shall not”.

“The Demon, with derision replied “Such as you are better outside. You shall wait here for me till I have finished my fun.”

“He jumped about the transept, climbed on an altar, and amidst his devilment, some angels appeared whom he mocked with derisive laughter, when one of the little angels said in dignified toned “Wicked Imp, be turned into stoned.”

“I chose the recording because of the texture of the warm sound of the organ, and the background sound of the people, as they walk, scuffle about. I knew I could get some interesting results whenever I re-sample the sound and begin to experiment by looping certain elements within the original audio by reimagining and trying to implement the story behind “The legend of the Lincoln Imp”.

“I wanted to make something experimental and along a dark ambient path. My idea for this piece was have a possessed haunting sound compared to the original audio, the idea being that the church has been possessed by the devilish imp.

“I began sampling the original audio using Ableton, completely perverting it from its original form. Used a lot of effects processing such as reverb and distortion, and feeding the results of the re-sampled audio using pitch shifting granular reverse echo’s and using filters to add more depth and colour to the finished sound. The finished piece has three sections to signify Peace, Chaos and Reconciliation.”

Memory version two: