Response by Fraser MacBeath
Hello, I’m Fraser MacBeath, a sound artist/electronic music producer from the Isle of Lewis, currently a postgraduate Sound For The Moving Image student at The Glasgow School of Art and a follower of the archive for the past 5 years or so.
I became aware of the archive while working at An Lanntair Arts Centre on Lewis. I had been looking for ways in which to integrate aspects of Hebridean life into ambient/electronic music and the archive offered a unique sonic resource to draw inspiration from.
This work was created in response to an open call for soundworks from Radiophrenia Glasgow. I’d always found the folk stories and lore really fascinating. The sense of mysticism alive in the culture with talk surrounding the existence of fairies, mermaids and witches that has been very much stamped out in modern culture is something that seemed worthwhile to try and contemporise. I wanted to further dramatize it however by also building atmospheres and using music to formulate it into a kind of sonic journey. Creating a more immersive listening experience inspired by the kind of emotions and environments that might have surrounded the stories when they were told.
The finished piece is a fully homegrown product of Scotland, although unfortunately I’ve had to rely heavily on the English material due to my very limited understanding of Gaelic at this point, but everything heard is either sourced from the archive or recorded on the Isle of Lewis. The music is made from recordings of small snippets of various traditional instruments and other sounds you might hear floating around the islands. Once recorded there are an infinite number of things that can be done to twist the sound into any kind of music you can think of. The compositions here are made primarily from looping very small segments of audio, after which these can then be time stretched, pitch altered and mapped to the keys of a keyboard, allowing a new instrument to be born out of virtually any sound while still retaining the source texture.
It’s a bit of a crude first attempt production wise, In the future hopefully more of these will materialise with a bit more Gaelic. My hope is that It could develop into an interesting topic for a dreamy podcast series, whilst also providing an educational resource for folklore enthusiasts and Gaelic learners to immerse themselves in the language.
Hope you enjoy it.
You can find more of Fraser’s work on his website: Home | Fraser MacBeath – Music & Sound Design (wixsite.com)
All archive recordings used from SSSA as listed below:
|SA1973.160||Betsty Whyte||A changeling baby banished and the real baby restored||Peter Cooke and Linda Williamson|
|SA1976.109||Betsy Whyte||A fisherman saw a mermaid sitting on a rock,||Linda Williamson|
|SA1975.107||Betsy Whyte||A man was changed into a woman and had a family before being…||Linda Williamson|
|SA1972.176||Duncan MacKinnon||An Ataireachd Àrd||Ian Paterson|
|SA1957.041||Essie and Alec Stewart||Essie Stewart gives a description of a fairy she saw.||Hamish Henderson|
|SA1955.094||Brucie Henderson||A woman was rescued from a cliff prison by her lover.||Calum Maclean|
|SA1957.043||Alec Stewart||The contributor discusses his fondness for storytelling.||Hamish Henderson|
|SA1989.045||John James||Santa Cruz||Margaret Bennet and Stephanie Smith|
|SA1964.067||Gordeanna McCulloch||The Shoals o Herrin||Norman Buchan|
|SA1971.072||Dolina Maclennan||Dh’fhàg mi ‘n Seo na Shìneadh e||Peter Cooke|
|SA1985.057||Thomas David Edgar||Unknown/Gypsy Woman||Peter Cooke and Jo Miller|