Night-Visiting Songs

Acoustic explorations

Virginia’s explorations into the acoustic and emotional resonance within the landscape of the River Thames has provided the inspiration for a new musical project. “I intended to seek creative expressions for this resonance and to create a body of work formed through a combination of poetry, music, narrative non-fiction and field-recordings and to compose a song cycle, Night-Visiting Songs, integrating some of these elements.”

The post-lockdown period has allowed Virginia to return to the Thames to continue her research, as detailed in a recent piece for the Manchester Metropolitan University. Virginia’s work has also been made easier by achieving the Graduate School’s Research Support Award.

“The award has enabled me recently to travel up to the Thames from my base in West Dorset and to make some night-time recordings” Virginia comments in the essay, “I started at Cleeve Lock – a place that holds particular emotional significance for me – and worked my way up river on subsequent nights, taking in the marina, the Brunel railway bridge, Days Lock and Wittenham Clumps. The recordings I made feature not only the more expected calls of geese and wildlife but also the sounds of the combine working late bringing in the harvest, people paddle-boarding after the hire cruisers have moored up for the night and the clock chimes ringing across the fields from the Saxon abbey at Dorchester. These recordings will provide a strong starting for my song-cycle.”

This new project leads on from Virginia’s ‘Grafton’ (see previous VAW feature), a spoken-word segment which also combined field recordings and subtle music fills.