PhD Research

My doctoral studies at The University of Birmingham have formally begun.

Jointly supervised by Drs. Annie Mahtani and Scott Wilson, my research will focus on multichannel acousmatic composition.

I’ll be composing works exclusively from natural source sounds, drawn from a personal recording library of species, soundscapes and abiotic phenomena.

A substantial component of my research will explore the relationship between sound recording and electroacoustic composition: in particular, how the inherent methodologies of wildlife sound recording inform creative work in the studio, and how intensive, studio-based sonic manipulation influences subsequent work in the field.

Other areas of interest include the broader practice of field recording (and its associated technologies, methodologies, pedagogy and community), approaches to wildlife sound cataloguing and curation, the historical development of wildlife sound recording, and cross-disciplinary conservation projects.

Finished compositions will projected through the University's internationally-renowned BEAST sound system, capable of mounting multichannel configurations of up to 100 loudspeakers and one of the largest of its type worldwide.

My doctoral research is supported by the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (formerly Midlands3Cities), funded by the AHRC.

I’ll be adding new, research-focused pages to this website soon.

Updates to come.

Lodge

The fourth Bumble entry, Lodge, has just been uploaded.

Have a listen to my search for bumblebees in central Bristol, amongst the flower beds of the Elizabethan knot garden at The Red Lodge Museum. In this entry, honeybees, red- and buff-tailed workers and a cranefly lead to a three-minute encounter with a tree bumblebee on a single rose flower.

Bumble is an ongoing, long-term project documenting my search for UK bumblebee sounds, with scientific and ID assistance from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

You can check view a map of project entries to date here.

Hard at Work

Work is ongoing on the next Bumble entry. Keep an eye on the website for updates over the next couple of weeks.

I've embarked on a series of equipment upgrades and refinements, expanding my existing range of Rycote windshields and adding a Tascam DR-100 MKIII portable recorder to my collection for overnight deployments.

A number of pistol grips have been modified to allow rapid removal from a small hiking backpack during unexpected moments.

Spring and summer seasons have been hugely successful. Recorded species include hoverflies, stonechats, skylarks, blackcaps, coal tits, willow warblers, buff-tailed/early/tree/common carder bumblebees, hairy-footed flower bees, tadpoles, yellow dung flies, carrion crows, yellowhammers and many more.

As always, selected sounds will make their way onto the recordings page towards the end of the year.

Rococo Uploaded

Rococo is the second entry in my recently-launched Bumble project, which documents my ongoing search for UK bumblebee sounds.

Place your ears amongst creeping comfrey flowers in Painswick Rococo Garden — a stunning, 18th Century landscaped garden in a hidden corner of the west Cotswolds — to experience the fascinating processes of nectar robbing and buzz pollination.

Featured species include a buff-tailed queen, early queen and a very industrious, female hairy-footed flower bee.

With thanks to Dom Hamilton and all staff at Painswick Rococo Garden for their help and advice.

Bumble Project Launched

Bumble is an ongoing search for UK bumblebee sounds.

The long-term project consists of a series of location-based recordings with interwoven, narrative voice-overs. I'm hoping to record at least half of the UK’s 25, extant bumblebee species, including the recently reintroduced Bombus subterraneus.

As with all of my work, it's best enjoyed in quiet moments, away from noise and ideally with a good-quality loudspeaker system or pair of headphones.

Recordings to date have been added to a dedicated Google Map. For the first time, you can navigate through a project geographically by clicking/tapping each pin and following the link to the relevant project entry. In the future, I hope to modify this map to incorporate layers of technical and conservation-focused metadata, which should provide additional context.

I'm incredibly grateful to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for all their help and support.

The first project entry, Beginnings, is available now.

Ashland Publicity

I've received some incredible feedback from listeners worldwide for my latest recording project, Ashland.

Thanks to Matt Mikkelsen and Palmer Morse at  Spruce Tone Films all the way over in California for sharing the work on their Being Hear Facebook page. I've also had a recent mention from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust on Twitter, regarding a suburban bumblebee recording that was played just over a week ago on BBC Radio 4.

I'm putting the finishing touches on several custom recording rigs for my next project and getting set for some superb dawn choruses in the Cotswolds and farther afield.

More soon.

Plastic Competition Entry

Pleased to announce that my short environmental film Plastic has been selected for entry in this year's NaturVision Short Film Award, The (In)Finite Nature of Plastic.

The award honours the film that best critically examines the use of this problematic material, its prevalence in the ground and water, and its threat to living creatures.

Ashland Launches

My latest recording project, Ashland, is now online.

Its a long-term, sonic exploration of Northern Ireland’s Drumnaph Nature Reserve and its surrounding landscapes.

Please listen, share and enjoy (with headphones and quiet surroundings).

Ashland

Work has started on my latest recording project, Ashland. Featuring a fresh sonic and narrative perspective on one of our best-known native UK trees, it should be available in early spring 2018.

I've had to postpone work on a related short-term project around Dartmoor due to anthropogenic disturbance in the recording area; if the situation improves, I plan to revisit in the future.

I'm also developing a number of specialised recording methods for bumblebees and making plans for nocturnal red fox recordings.

Owls, Bats & Editing

It's been a superb autumn for recording, but it hasn't all been plain sailing.

During a hike through woodland, I nearly lost thousands of pounds' worth of audio gear after slipping on a rotten branch and falling forwards (I was lucky I didn't break my arm).

When fog thickened without warning on another trip, I got lost, had to find my way through thick scrub and slippery rocks in the pitch-dark, then had to jump over an electric fence without knowing exactly where I would land!

Despite these challenges, I've been rewarded with some incredible experiences. 

Highlights include: common and soprano pipistrelle bats feeding close to a small deciduous copse in a Cotswold meadow; a pair of tawny owls swooping through beech trees at dusk, framed by water droplets falling onto a carpet of decaying leaves; and strong, northerly winds filtering through a mature, crispy, late-autumn woodland canopy.

Careful editing for all of these recordings is ongoing, and many will form part of an exciting new project in late 2018.

Updates to come.

Editing / New Project

I've taken some time away from the field to edit and curate the significant body of recordings made during the spring and summer period.

Selected sounds will be uploaded as part of a 2017 sound series in the coming months, so keep an eye on the blog for updates.

Around this, I'm preparing equipment and researching isolated locations along the Severn Estuary for autumn and winter recordings; target species this year include teal, black-tailed godwit, barnacle geese and a range of other wildfowl and wading birds.

Green Space has been played just under 700 times, and has been entered into a couple of short film competitions. Thanks to all for listening and watching.

Work has also started on a new, short-duration project, focusing on an ancient location in Dartmoor.