REUBEN DERRICK: SONIC LANDS 2012 – 2020, 2020
Collaboration with Geoff Low, 2020
At the mouth of Rakihuri / Ashley River an estuary is surrounded by sandhills and features a spit. We were interested in this coastal location because of its protected wildlife status. However during this visit the weather provided an opportunity to feature Geoff’s Taonga pūoro alongside the more noisy elements of wind and the incoming tide.
We visited Lyttelton after a fruitless visit to Governor’s Bay. I had been to this port before for other
and it was always exciting. The sounds of the port are filtered in different ways by the changing weather conditions and tides. I found a spot very close to the water in order to foreground its percussive and low oscillation. Geoff is heard in the distance while transient sources provide a kind of structure.
Kura Tawhiti, 2013
Kura Tawhiti, also named ‘Castle Hill’ by early European travellers, is a conservation area located 90 kilometres northwest of Christchurch. Situated between the Torlesse and Craigeburn mountain ranges of New Zealand’s South Island, it has an elevation of 700 metres. Its most distinctive geological feature is rampart like limestone rock formations, making it a popular site for climbers and walkers. Kura Tawhiti, meaning ‘the treasure from a distant land’, has great historical significance for the Māori Iwi (tribe), Ngāi Tahu, who are actively involved with the management of its conservation.
The open spaces provided by the landscape at Kura Tawhiti are much larger than those of any indoor location. In Kura Tawhiti the location’s resonance is understood as being an extension of my instrument and is therefore necessarily negotiated spontaneously. In addition to its geography providing a complex, multi-directional echo system, the location’s resonance must be affected also through variations in atmospheric conditions. Apart from the sounds I produced, other soundscape elements were very quiet on each visit. Ubiquitous grass cicadas produce a continuous, high-pitched pulsating texture, without variation; occasional, gentle gusts of wind rustle the tussock and buffet against the microphones; flies randomly buzz close to the microphones like drunken kazoos, creating brief but chaotic melodic interruptions. The distant drones from vehicles occasionally passing on State Highway 73 are barely perceptible. The dominant sounds, although not in the spatial foreground, are the continuous soprano saxophone along with its echoes reflected by the surrounding landscape. These acoustic reflections are coloured uniquely by the geography; their different durations, directions and timbres determined by the limestone formations’ various sizes, shapes and distances. The most distant acoustically reflective surfaces are about 200m away from the recording site.
During the period 2011-2013 I made several overnight visits to
near Akaroa. Most of the reserve is a mosaic of native forest in various stages of development. In a small area of old growth beech trees there are some open resonant spaces below the canopy. It’s a lovely place to listen and play, especially during the stillness following rain. All of these recordings are from this place.