Skip links

Dada in the UK

The final stop on our highlights tour from Dada Sounds is back here in the UK. Not only are there well over a dozen sounds from the UK, but we’ve also not had time or space to highlight individually all the amazing contributions to the project. so I’d really encourage to spend some time exploring the sound map.

The first of four highlights from the UK comes via our recording of a Reclaim The Night street protest in London’s Trafalgar Square, taken on by Peter Davies and his band Gad Whip. Peter writes:

“The original field recording, Reclaim The Night protest, set the bpm for the track and then synths, drums, bass, guitar and vocals were built up around this. The lyrics are random one lines drawn out of a hat in classic Dada style!”

City version:

Memory version:

Next up, another of our recordings, of gulls crying out while they feed late at night on Margate’s beach. This recording was picked up by Emma Winston and given a beautiful Dadaist treatment:

“For Ssa-ha-la, I chose to use an existing sound from the Cities and Memory database, since I felt this was more in keeping with the spirit of the Dada readymade than procuring my own field recording would have been (although I ultimately manipulated the recording far more than perhaps Marcel Duchamp would have approved of!).

“Listening closely to the sound of the waves and seagulls at low tide, I decided to write a sound poem, in the ‘Bruitist’ (or phonetic) form invented by Dadaist Richard Huelsenbeck, which would reflect and exaggerate the natural sounds accompanying it, replacing semantic logic with sonic logic. The result is a kind of ‘sound song’ which intertwines with the cries of the gulls and sibilant waves.”

City version:

Memory version:

Next up, a wonderful contribution from The School of Noise in London, which sounds like pretty much the best after school club of all time! Here, a class of children have produced their own Dada-inspired tribute to the late David Bowie.

“We run an after school club for children aged 7-12. For the Cities and Memory project we decided to create two Dada technique inspired pieces for our sound piece.

“The first was a field recording which was taken inside the playground and the second is two cut-up poems about David Bowie. To change the field recording we decided to use aleatoric chance ideas to automate different effects.

“To do this we talked about different ways of changing sound; volume, pan, reverb, delay, distortion and tempo and drew a grid with number 1-8 along the y axis.

“One at a time the children rolled an 8 sided die to determine a number. They plotted this number on a chart with 8 being a high amount of that effect and 1 being a low amount. This process was then repeated for every effect.

“After a undetermined number of rolls they reached the end of the x axis (time). This chart was then plotted into Logic to automate the effects.

“The field recording was then added to this template to create the track. As well as the field recording the children made Dadaist inspired poems using a cut-up technique.

“This involved cutting out words from newspaper headlines on the day after David Bowie passed away. The words were put into a bag and pulled out randomly one by one to form the poems.

“This was a technique Bowie had used to create some of his lyrics. The poems have also been put through the automated effects as well as keeping some of it unedited.”

City version:

Memory version:

And finally, a recipe for how to write a Dadaist field recording, produced by Fritz Schlueter.

“How to Make a Dadaist Field Recording (according to Tristan Tzara’s method How to Make a Dadaist Poem)

“To make a Dadaist Field Recording:
1. Take a field recording.
2. Take a digital audio workstation.
3. Choose a section of the field recording as long as you are planning to make your Dadaist field recording.
4. Cut out the section.
5. Then split this section randomly in short pieces and arrange the snippets on four different tracks.
6. Shuffle all the pieces several times, randomly reverse some of the pieces.
7. Then take the scraps one after the other and put it on one track in the order in which they are, without gaps.
8. Render conscientiously to a new file.
9. The recording will be like you.
10. And here are you a sound artist, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.”

City version:

Memory version: