Marcus Leadley

The Sounding Shore

Field recording and composition project featuring sounds collected between the Old Neptune public house and Whitstable harbour.

About this project

I used to think that wind was my enemy. You can minimise the problem with a big fluffy mic cover but that makes you look like a conspicuous eccentric.  Might as well get a metal detector and be done with it.  My little recorder with its small handheld mic is inconspicuous – but all too prone to recording the sound of wind battering the inadequate shield. It has always been my policy to make a virtue out of limitation so I’ve reframed the problem of wind as an opportunity:  the lead into a unique analogy where the wind is to a recording as the waves are to objects cast up on the shore. As a wave breaks physical object into ever smaller fragments of their former selves, so too are my recordings broken and reshaped by the wind. Much is useless and must be cut away – but between the gusts are quiet moments. Here you find snippets of conversation, a solitary wave in single completeness,  a fragment of music, footsteps going somewhere.  All are more precious in their rarity, abstraction and uniqueness.  And sometimes a few clear words blown away from a lost conversation reveal something about a more universal experience. 

Without the wind as an editor I must make more conventional editorial decisions.  Some moments just seen to compose themselves.  All you have to do is have the recorder running and go back and find them later.  The sound of a dog hurtling into the sea with a reckless crash, a bicycle passing in one direction as a pushchair fades in across wet tarmac as a plane above roars slowly off into the distance.  Other moments beg to be created: the rich and satisfying plop of stones hurled as far off shore as a human arm will allow, the rich crunch of pebbles moving below one’s slowly shifting weight. 

Even traffic noise sounds better from the beach. 

Maybe there is simply more time to consider even ordinary things.