Spoken Spaces, Sonic Traces (ALBA)

ALBA at Spoken Spaces, Sonic Traces

In 2014 I worked on a new composition/sound piece called ALBA for a collaborative art project called Spoken Spaces, Sonic Traces. ALBA has sinced continued to evolve as a piece & project – debuting as a live musical performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 (alongside other original compositions by Kostas Rekleitis, Alfredo Caponnetto, Harry Whalley and other composers); forming an art/poem/music/film collaboration with visual artist Alastair Cook and poet John Glenday; and also featuring as a special release as a fully orchestrated piece (ALBA: Symphonic Textures), in a collaboration with composer Steve Brookfield.

The original film recorded featured musicians Colleen Marie Nicoll (soprano), Katie Johnston (cello) & Sarah Becker (piano) with sound engineer Josh Sabin. The live 2014 Fringe performance featured Rachel Stewart (soprano), Justyna Jablonska-Edmonds (cello) & Sarah Becker (piano).

The live performance and film both included an electronic soundscape that was sculpted from human readings of John’s fantastically imaginative poem ‘ALBA’, which was the inspirational seed for my contribution to the Spoken Spaces, Sonic Traces project. The soundscape was created by inviting people from all over the world to recite text from this poetry. These recordings were then moulded into a wash of voice, forming a live sonic component for the Fringe performance and art film.


Some say she looks like an old witch,
a dark caillich with a cat’s tail of islands for hair.
Brine sluices the words from her cracked lips.
I say no. I say she’s as fresh as these flakes
of schist and quartzite I gathered yesterday.

Some say she’s barren: “Look how they scoured
her bairns from her womb with a dab of wool,” they say,
“and them scarce hallways down the road to birth.
The four airts buried them.
Their cries will circle the earth like little storms.”
I say no. I say she’s poor but whole and strong,
and I’ve heard her children sing out in the half dark street,
barely a whisper before night.

Some say she’s bad news, a temptress, a whistler on ships,
that the man who sleeps with her will wake one morning
at dusk on a hillside under the brisk rain, his pockets weighted with sand.
I say no. I say, look at me: I’ve slept with her all the nights of my life
and still each morning when i wake I find her tongue in my mouth.