Burnham Overy Staithe Music

Burnham Overy Staithe Music
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Burnham Overy Staithe music video

Moving East from Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe, Burnham Overy Staithe is a small, harbour, dotted with boats. I'd assumed that i wouldn't get many interesting sounds to field record at this location, maybe some birds or water sounds, maybe the odd clanking of sheets on masts from the boats resting lazily on their moorings, so what i ended up recording was both accidental and surprising.

The majority of usable sounds i captured were for the first time in this project from people talking. A group of elderly women happened to walk past me while i was recording and i captured various snippets of conversation between them. They were planning on taking a boat (the one you can see in the image at the top of this post), i assume down the estuary to Burnham Overy Beach. They discussed where they were meant to meet the boat, one of the group had left their money and the others offered to pay for her. During the same time period a number of different open water swimmers walked near and past me as they made their way either in or out of the water, one couple of swimmers were discussing their swimming route through the meandering channels, another commented on their friends new swimming shoes "ooh! new shoes!" in a phrasing reminiscent of the refrain from Clarke's shoe advert from the early 2000s.

When it came to write the piece of music for this location, i went through the recorded audio and created samples of the various noises, these were mainly the elderly women and swimmers conversations, and also some mechanical noises from the boat ramp being lowered and raised. Rather than try and make something musical out of the samples i decided to try and approach where i wrote some music to act as the foundation to the various samples being played at different points. Mucking around with an electric piano virtual instrument i came up with a sort of laidback riff, doubled it up with a bass part, (i did record some real bass guitar, but couldn't get the right. sound so ended up using a 70s style bass virtual instrument in Logic). I then came up with a simple drum part, that unusually for me actually sounded like a proper drum part (as a non-drummer i always find it hard to create decent drum parts).

Once i had this foundation i started 'playing' the various samples e.g. adding sporadic gull "caawws". I also manipulated some of the recordings of people talking. One of these ended up being the sample used at the start of the song, where i used a granular sampler to slowly 'scroll' through a longer sample. I also manipulated the sample of the women who didn't have any money with a filter, this is the golem-like sample that ends the piece of music.

With the main elements in place, the sort of laidback 70s-ish groove made me feel like i needed to add some guitar soloes. I ended up recording 3 soloes that come in and out during the song. The song doesn't really go anywhere, i see it more as a flat object for the field recordings and guitar soloes to dance around.

Below is the video of the original field recording for Burnham Overy Staithe, can you identify the raw recordings that made it into the song?

Original field recording that inspired the music