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Blackfriars: spirit of the Underground

It’s the morning rush hour and we’re at Blackfriars station, in the heart of the City of London – here we experience a packed tube journey ending at the next stop, Cannon Street, and walking out into the city.

City version


Two excellent reimagined versions of this for you – firstly from Paul Lewin:

“I have worked with recordings from the environment in my sound pieces for a few years now but these are more usually from the rural locality I inhabit.

“The idea of using a recording of the London Underground was a pleasing challenge and the recording immediately inspired on a first listen due to the variety and quality of sounds in the recording.

“I was particularly taken by the rising and falling tones of the trains entering and leaving the stations and I have used these to create some pitched musical elements to my piece.

“The whole recording was first put through Melodyne and “tuned” subtly which gives a slight choral effect and then it was chopped up and re-arranged in Live.

“I have used some drum sounds, a piano and a bell sound from lives instruments, but the rest of the piece was made entirely from the recording, looped or put into a sampler.

“I also used an impulse response (thank you Ben!) of the underground with Live’s convolution reverb, I wanted a feel that the piece arrived through a tunnel and then disappeared back into one at the end. The tempo was varied through the piece to reflect that of a tube journey.”

Memory version by Paul Lewin:

Second is a piece inspired by memories of London from long-standing contributor Ian Haygreen:

“Oddly enough it wasn’t so much the actual recording but the memory it invoked of when my father took me London (to visit the Natural History Museum) and the first time I went on the underground in the 1970s.

“Being quite young and with a hyperactive imagination I conjured up a strange underground world which existed in the tunnels beneath the city with weird machines and fantastical beings.

“So that was in the back of my mind when I started snipping away at the recording, isolating interesting sounds, although I let the sounds follow their own course.”

Memory version by Ian Haygreen: