Brancaster Music

Brancaster Music
Brancaster Staithe
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Brancaster music video

Brancaster sits on the North Norfolk coast between Titchwell and Burnham Overy Staithe (the location of the next piece of music i'm working on).

This piece of music uses sounds recorded at bother Brancaster beach, a lovely, long, sweeping sandy beach, and Brancaster Staithe, a muddy and tranquil little area dotted with small sailing and day boats.

When reviewing the audio to find samples there were two key elements that stood out, firstly the shrill half-gargled sounds of the seagulls that i had capture, secondly, the large number of man-made sounds that dominated the recording at Brancaster Staithe. These man-made sounds included:

  • A single propeller airplane flying over head
  • Car doors slamming, car engines starting, and the sound of car tyres turning on the gravel of the Staithe
  • An inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) being inflated

I decided to try to manipulate these sounds and use them as the basis for the piece of music.

I started by manipulating the satisfyingly squelchy sound of a car tyre turning on gravel, this provided both an interesting sound but also the starting rythym for the music. I then manipulated the sound of the SUP being inflated, re-pitching it slightly and playing it in time with the gravel rythym. I then used a sample of a seagul, pitched that down and played that to fit into the timing between the SUP and the gravel.

I then took the recording of a car door slamming which became essentially the kick drum of the song. I then took the recording of the airplane, processed this and this became a simple, droning set of notes that is present through the main section of the song. When recording this i used pitch ben when playing the sample to add a short of falling element to the airplane drone.

I built up the percussive elements using some drums in Logic, which picked up the incessant nature of the natural ryhtym from the samples and took it to a more propelling level.

In order to add a different dimension i wrote a short chord part on a synth, which in the second iteration of the part is also accompanied by a delayed guitar arpeggio. This section added some respite to the relentless pummelling of the main section, which gets progressively more noisy and aggresive each time it returns, ending in a cacophony of distorted electric guitar.

It was really interesting how this song evolved, and how it jarred against my initial recollection at recording at the location. My memory of recording was that the location was very tranquil and relaxed. But listening back and trawling through the field recordings i was struck by how often the tranquility i had remembered was rudely pierced by cars, SUP owners, and seagulls. I guess maybe subconsciously how noisy and clattering the final song came out is a reflection of those abrupt interjections into the tranquility by man and bird.

Below are the original field recordings that were used to inspire the music and provide the raw materials for the samples. See if you can identify which noises made it into the song.

Original field recording from Brancaster beach

Original field recording from Brancaster Staithe