Windhouse

Windhouse

Music by Haworth Hodgkinson

High Moss HM 001 (64:32) • Released 22 November 2015

Music composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson between 2008 and 2014

Cover from a photograph of the Windhouse, Yell, taken in 2006 by Knotbrook Taylor

Album © Haworth Hodgkinson 2015

Downloads: AlbumCD booklet (PDF)CD inlay (PDF)

Links: Haworth Hodgkinson Heather Wilson Knotbrook Taylor

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Windhouse (2008/2014)

[00:00] Chapter 1
[02:20] Chapter 2
[10:01] Chapter 3
[16:24] Chapter 4
[22:19] Chapter 5
[27:40] Chapter 6
[34:02] Chapter 7
[39:16] Chapter 8
[44:07] Chapter 9
[46:37] Chapter 10
[50:38] Chapter 11
[56:20] Chapter 12

Windhouse is a continuous span of music lasting a little over an hour. It is divided into twelve sections, which I call Chapters, but they play without a break, and so I have presented the piece as one single track – although CDs can cope with seamless playback between tracks, many other formats cannot easily chain tracks without short interruptions, which for this piece would be very distracting. The times above indicate the approximate start of each section.

The origins of the music date to September 2006 when, whilst attending the Shetland Book Festival, I visited the Windhouse, a ruined house on a hill on the island of Yell. I was struck by the very strange atmosphere of the place, and I went away with some ideas for a response in music. I didn't know it at the time, but the Windhouse has various grim stories attached to it, and it is reputed to be the most haunted building in Shetland, or even according to some sources the most haunted in the British Isles. The stories generally involve something dreadful happening to the occupants on Christmas Eve, after which the house lies empty for several years until cultural memory fades, then new occupants take up residency until they meet their fate, once again on Christmas Eve.

In 2008 I produced a first version of my response, lasting about 12 minutes. When the artist Heather Wilson heard it we talked about the idea of using the music to accompany an exhibition of Windhouse paintings. This gave me the idea of producing an extended version of my Windhouse music that could be played on a loop in a gallery, but that would also trace a satisfying dramatic arc when listened to from beginning to end. I devised an hour-long version of the Windhouse music in 12 Chapters and I made this new recording of the sequence in January 2014.

The music is made entirely using digital synthesis – my intention was that it should be essentially abstract, but as I worked on it certain associations began to develop. Each Chapter begins with a kind of whirring, whining, howling sound, which leads into a woozy wheezy organ-like chord that swells and fades, striving upwards or sinking downwards, only at the very end of the final Chapter reaching something like resolution. The fact that each Chapter has the same basic form became associated for me with the repeating nature of the Windhouse stories, like some kind of recurring dream or nightmare in which familiar territory is never quite the same.

An hour of whining and wheezing makes for quite a tough listen, but if you're up for the challenge, here it is. Settle down, preferably on a dark winter night, with a drink if you feel so inclined, and see where it takes you.

Notes © Haworth Hodgkinson 2015.

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