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May morning in Oxford

Field recording May morning celebrations in Oxford.
Field recording May morning celebrations in Oxford.

Oxford, England – here in the current hometown of Cities and Memory, there’s an annual traditional celebration called May morning, which goes back hundreds of years.

Crowds gather at sunrise beneath the tower at Magdalen College to hear the college choir sing hymns from the top of the tower, out across the city – revellers, many of whom have stayed up all night as is traditional, then head into the city as the bells of Magdalen College ring out to welcome in the month of May.

We got up at the crack of dawn to get a field recording of this unique celebration, which we passed over to long-time contributor Jase Warner to reimagine in some style. He explains:

“The most notable sounds of the original field recording provided by Stuart, the creator of the Cities and Memory project, feature the performance of a choir as well as the ringing of church bells.”

“I set out to create something that complimented the structure of a choir, by way of combining various parts of the original recording to make a complete sound; hopefully this approach comes across in the finished piece.”

“The organic nature of recycling an original field recording and reforming it to make something new has a certain appeal.”

City version:


Memory version: