Lade Braes

Lade Braes

Music by Haworth Hodgkinson

High Moss HM 012 (71:17) • Released 27 February 2017

All music composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson in 2017

Cover from a photograph by Haworth Hodgkinson

Album © Haworth Hodgkinson 2017

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Lade Braes

The Lade Braes Walk, commonly referred to simply as the Lade Braes, is a path that leads from the centre of St Andrews alongside the Kinness Burn out into the western suburbs. It follows the course of a channel that once fed water to a mill, hence the name. Since producing the album Barn Dances in summer 2016 I have been thinking a lot about my student days in St Andrews, and this thinking led me to produce these two pieces in early 2017, as well as to start work on a short story set against that background. At the time of writing, the short story seems to be well on its way towards turning into a novel, and both pieces on this album, as well as both pieces on Barn Dances, correspond to scenes in the story.

Law Mill (2017)

The Law Mill is a grain mill near the western end of the Lade Braes Walk, where the path divides into several branches. The mill dates to the 18th century, though earlier mills are thought to have existed on the site at least as far back as 1570, and maybe since the 13th century. The mill pond is home to many ducks and other birds, and in 1983 I made an environmental recording by the pond, capturing not only the birds but also the voices of occasional passing pedestrians, a dog barking, planes flying over, and some distant traffic noise. The recording was also badly affected by wind noise, which has discouraged me from using it in the past, but in this piece I have used the wind noise to influence the rhythms and structure. I have not edited the original recording in the time domain, so all events on the 47-minute tape unfold in real time, though I have used digital processing to try to cut back on tape hiss and to enhance some of the sounds. In particular I have tried to make the bursts of wind noise sound rather like distant thunder, adding percussion sounds to some of them. Over the processed environmental recording I have laid a slowly shifting drone made from a fragment of a piece for guitar and percussion that I recorded in 1986 when I was about to leave St Andrews for the last time.

Hallow Hill (2017)

Another branch of the path leads to the Hallow Hill, now taken up by a modern housing development but also the site of an early medieval burial ground, of which a few open excavated graves can be seen, including one that only appears big enough for a baby. When excavations were made in the 1860s, and again in the 1970s, many objects of coloured glass, various kinds of stone, bronze and animal bone were found amongst the human remains.

There are no environmental sounds in this piece, but the drone treatment of a fragment from the 1986 piece for guitar and percussion is now allowed to expand through harmonic filtering into progressively higher harmonics, so that ghostly melodies and harmonies may appear to be lurking within or emerging from the texture.

Notes © Haworth Hodgkinson 2017.

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