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The Toy Horse Derby

3903853833_c1173554d5_oThe recent Prison Songs project is complete, so we’re back to ‘business as usual’ for Cities and Memory – which is to say touring the world, listening to an alternative, reimagined world of sound created by hundreds of artists.

Today we’re returning to ground zero – our home city of Oxford, England, and a sound I recorded at the annual St. Giles street fair (see here for what I learned while field recording at a funfair). And here are some other sounds from St. Giles fair.

The toy horse derby is a traditional funfair game – everyone pays £1, which they bet on one of the eight or so toy horses, which set off on a quick race across the stand. The winning horse takes home a prize.

What’s interesting here, of course, is the commentary and how it apes and mirrors real horse racing commentary, except without the manic excitement that comes along with the the real Grand National or Derby races.

For the reimagined sound, we’ve placed the toy horse derby right inside the real UK Derby horse race, overlaying slabs of real commentary, with samples of the pounding hooves of galloping horses.

To add an extra bit of power to the piece, we’ve layered several versions of the horse hooves and effected them with ‘outside the nightclub’-style heavy bass emphasis to add weight to the bottom end, and added some old microphone effects to the voices to make this a timeless derby race from any time in the recent past.

City version:

Memory version: