Inchcolm, 23.09.07

In September 2007 we performed on Inchcolm Island, to the north of Edinburgh off the coast of Fife. We traveled to the island on the Maid of the Forth, a regular ferry service. About 30 people made the crossing to see us play. We performed in the octagonal chapterhouse of the partially ruined Abbey on the island. The performance involved a single piece, lasting 28 minutes, played on two acoustic guitars and three tuning forks. One guitar was played by plucking increasing numbers of harmonically tuned strings. The other was played by placing the ringing tuning forks against different parts of its body and strings.

Immediately following the performance, we released a CD in a limited edition hand made sleeve, designed in collaboration with artist Sam Collier. The CD contains a single piece of repetitive choral music lasting 17 minutes. We made this piece of music earlier in the year. It was assembled from a series of 20 recordings made in the chapterhouse in which we performed. These recordings were created using music from a 14th Century manuscript known as the Inchcolm Antiphoner. It is thought that this music was designed to be sung in the Abbey on the anniversary of St Columba's death, June 9th. We therefore decided to make the recordings on June 9th 2007. We began by playing a short section of the choral music through a speaker in the chapterhouse, and recording the sound resonating within the room. We then played this recording into the chapterhouse and again recorded the sound of it resonating. We repeated this process until we had created 20 recordings, each one progressively more affected by the acoustics of the chapterhouse. Returning to our studio, we then structured the final piece by layering and removing the 20 recordings sequentially using a computer program. The piece begins as clear choral music, becomes increasingly resonant and full of reverberation, and then becomes more drone-like as the earlier recordings are progressively removed.

The CD inlays featured images made by layering several scans of the Inchcolm Antiphoner manuscript, and varying the transparency of the individual layers. A new version of this CD, with a new handmade inlay, is available for 12 plus 1 p&p. Please email us for details.

Audio: CD excerpt
Image: abbey
Image: beach
Image: beach
Image: beach
Image: CD inlay artwork (aggregated)
Images: CD inlay artwork (front)
Image: CD inlay artwork (back)
Image: CD sleeve
Image: CD tray
Image: jetty
Image: jetty
Image: jetty
Image: new inlay for 2008 CD reissue
Image: performance set-up
Image: stairs
Image: structure of the composition
Text: release details

Photographs by Lindsay Conn and Michelle Kasprzak.