MSCTY x National Trust: Emmetts Garden
MSCTY x The National Trust
Joining forces with Emmetts Garden in Kent, UK, our intrepid Studio finds itself contending with the aural qualities of fungus!
Feed Your Head
As part of the Garden's Fungi Festival 2022, MSCTY_Studio's Nick Luscombe + Robin The Fog gave a field recording workshop sharing their excitement about listening and capturing the sounds of nature. Then, they invited spore-chasing sound hunters to join them on a recording mission in Emmetts Garden, a National Trust property in Kent, UK.
After an afternoon's hunt fueled by the cafe's caramel shortbread, the resulting specimens were examined, chopped up, processed and fused into a series of 7 soundscapes devoted to locations around the Garden that invite listeners to gain new perspectives on the site – through the eyes of a mushroom!
MSCTY x The National Trust: Emmetts Garden playlist
A Happy Accident and an explanation of sorts for a number of bemused visitors who may have wondered what all these people meandering around with headphones and tape recorders during the weekend might have been up to! Recordings of leaves, wind, water and a snatch of conversation inadvertently captured when a couple of passers by asked why we were dangling microphones into the pumping pond!
This piece took shape when we saw a young person running a stick along the metallic fence that sits alongside the rose garden at Emmetts. There is a real sense of new trails, discovery and wonder all around the gardens and we managed to capture various voices as we wandered that echo the sheer excitement and freedom that being absorbed in nature can allow.
Inspired both by the many species of birdlife to be discovered in the gardens and also the beautiful yet bittersweet onset of autumn, this was our attempt to create birdsong from scratch. Using a single recording of the creaking hinge of the gate into the rock garden, a section of which was then cut as a loop and played on a vintage reel to reel tape machine. Playing the loop back at different speeds reveals a plaintive melodic figure, while dragging the tape through by hand creates a whole series of eerie twitters and chirps. Recorded during the MSCTY sound hunting workshop, with assistance from National Trust staff member Viktoria and two younger visitors to the gardens, all of whom assisted in conjuring up an uncanny avian atmosphere!
This soundscape features the many wonderful comforting sonic textures which can be enjoyed all around the gardens - from the ever-present birdsong, to sounds created by the breeze through the tress and wind chimes, footsteps on the crunchy leaves and twigs, raindrops on leaves and the delights of acorn racing along Emmett’s play area bamboo chutes! There are so many sounds to enjoy at Emmetts and we recorded so many, also with the help and contributions from Neil and his son Sidney plus local recordist Brian Miller.
An attempt to capture the sudden stillness of the gardens after all the visitors have gone home, summoned back to their cars by the handbell rung every evening at closing time. Recorded onto magnetic tape with a little live feedback deliberately added to give the piece a slightly woozy, blurry, while trying to imagine a soundtrack for strange and kaleidoscopic mushroom forms slowly gestating in the darkening woods. Psychedelic sounds created from commonplace objects - striking, tapping and rubbing various metallic surfaces found around Emmetts - including a set of windchimes to the slight bemusement of the [otherwise very accomodating] staff busy tidying up before hometime!
With this piece we invite the listener to close their eyes and float through Emmetts on a memory drift of woody sounds and watery sounds, passing through small streams and beneath the pond, sub-aqua sounds created using a hydrophone and the dangling marimba-like instrument that is regularly enjoyed by new generations of experimental music makers! Damp and shady, much like the preferred location of the Scarlet Elf Cup itself!
Thanks to musician Jo Johnson and also Ronnie the dog for their fine audio contributions!
Another piece created from the rock garden gate recordings created during the MSCTY workshop, with help from participants, staff and other visitors. An attempted imagining of the sounds of electrical impulses that fungal colonies appear to transmit to one another and also a perhaps rather cheeky tribute to pioneering composer [and celebrated mycologist] John Cage. Once, when asked why he composed music, Cage replied: “I do not deal in purposes; I deal with sounds. I make them just as well by sitting quite still looking for mushrooms.” Hopefully these sounds provide an effective soundtrack for sitting quite still looking at mushrooms instead? Remember: NO PICKING!
LOCATION + PROCESS [12 images]
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Chelsea Pettitt, Viktoria Austen + The National Trust staff at Emmetts Gardens who helped + guided us during our weekend of recording and making odd sounds.
The many curious visitors who contributed the wonderfully warm sonic landscape of the site.
The cafe staff for endless cups of tea.