SOUND: composition, installations, performance, releases

credit: Katie O Looney

credit: Susannah Kelly

Three Foghorns

Site-Specific Composition

Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Ireland. 25 May 2016.


This composition was created by layering cruise ship foghorns, diffusing them from different locations about the performance space. Including, notably, from inside a locked sea chest. It premiered on the final night of my residency at the Sirius Arts Centre.

The site-specific nature of this piece means that it is not available to hear. However, here is a location recording and the accompanying documentation from my journal.

Journal entry

A coast guard ship is in dock with the engine running. All through the apartment is a throbbing. Every item vibrates in synchrony with a broad energy band concentrated below 100 Hz, with a fundamental frequency of about 23 Hz. But what is distinctive is the "throbbing" of the drone, as it gets quieter and louder in cycles. This regular amplitude modulation has a period of about 3.8 seconds. It's as though a gigantic Leslie speaker has pulled into the harbour.

Higher frequencies are provided by waves that lap past the wooden pier to the shoreline. Gulls call back and forth over the bay. Their conversations are etched on the spectrogram in the shape of the gulls themselves, flying above the background drone.

Biotic and abiotic forms generate interacting acoustic pressure waves that reach my ears. From this location I plot frequency energy over time. This colourful graph recapitulates the original spatial relationships between the sound sources. In this way phenomenology is mimetic. We'd be right to call it poetry.


Thanks to the Sirius Arts Centre and Miranda Driscoll for facilitating this piece through the residency programme.