Hidden Sounds – connecting with the natural world
I am a sound artist and musician who has lived in the North East since 2003. Hidden Sounds is a project that combines the tradition of storytelling and song with contemporary field recording, searching for narratives to revitalise our connection with the natural world. Specifically it focuses on hidden sounds beneath water surfaces, eavesdropping on a world where sound and vibration are the primary senses that connect us deeply to our ecosystems.
Commissioned in the Summer of 2020, aquatic field recordings were traced from around the North East of England, including the mudflats of Teesmouth, the coastlines of Durham heritage coast, local nature reserves and colliery pit-ponds. In many of these locations the remnants of an industrial past provide an unlikely backdrop to now blooming wildlife habitats. An additional trip to the Farne Islands in Northumberland allowed me to capture underwater seal vocalisations and trace their route down to Teesmouth, the only intertidal mudflat between Lindisfarne to the north and the Humber to the south.
A radio ballad for aquatic lifeforms
Jez Lowe is a singer-songwriter whose musical history lies in the traditions of the North East. I approached him to ask whether he would produce bespoke lyrics and songs informed by the field recordings I had made. Folk Music is necessarily rooted in local geographies and landscapes but in Hidden Sounds the environment plays more than a supporting role. The submerged rhythms of plants and underwater invertebrates, themselves largely unrecognised, become the foundation on which the music is built.
The project is a radio ballad for aquatic lifeforms, told from the perspective of the marine-dwellers themselves about the coastal communities that rely on them. My hope is that it will inspire people to consider the affect of sound beyond what we, as humans, can perceive.
In times when personal connections often take place online, the concept of digital intimacy gains value. The work exhibits an undercurrent of production techniques that have their basis in Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), including close-up recording, binaural production and repetitive noises. The sensation is characterised by a ‘tingling’ that can be induced by a number of external factors.
David de la Haye
Field Recordings by David de la Haye
Music and lyrics by Jez Lowe
‘Hidden Sound’ documentary produced by Objectiv Pictures for Palace of Science.
Directed by Euan Preston.
Audio mastering by Simon Scott, SPS Mastering.
Produced by David de la Haye
About the Recordist
David de la Haye is a contemporary musician, field recordist, sound artist and producer. He studied Jazz and Contemporary Music at Leeds College of Music, going on to postgraduate studies in Contemporary Composition at Newcastle University. His current work explores the role of creative arts in freshwater conservation and in September 2020 he was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education “Outstanding Technician of the Year” award. He performs with North East based bands including Monster Ceilidh Band and Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies.