Monday, 29 September 2008

FRED - The First Weekend

The weekend of Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September saw the official opening of the Broughton Sound Tour and an enthusiastic response from it's first listeners. Thanks to the efforts of the FRED festival marketing team, the local tourist information centre and a two-day respite from the wet weather, the tour was visited by around 30 people who spent a combined total of approximately 50 hours exploring the historic market town whilst wearing large pairs of headphones.

FRED visitors, walkers, families and local residents alike set off up the steep climb to High Cross to hear children from St James' school, Millom recreate the sounds of the Hodbarrow Iron Ore mines, before arriving back at the square to the sound of a flapping salmon tail.

The tour will also run on the weekends of: 4th/5th October and 11th/12th October.

Preview Event 26/09/08

The Broughton Sound Tour opened for business last Friday evening at a special preview event for participants in the project and local residents. Setting up stall in the large) and inexplicably far from the actual bus stop) stone bus shelter, Samantha and Glenn handed out headphones and media players over wine and nibbles.

Amongst the first people to sample the tour were life-long Broughton residents Ray Babb (above) and Vera Fugler as well as ardent project promoter, parish council member and chief direction-giver, Graham George. The evening was a great chance to say thank you to everyone who has helped us with the project, particularly those who helped to create content for the tour.

Workshops at St James' School, Millom (Part 2)

On Wednesday 17th September, children from St James' School in Millom took part in the second of two workshops looking at the role played by the mining industry in their town's history. Following on from a visit to the Millom Folk Museum last term, the children, from year 4, were asked to recreate sounds and dialogue from the nearby Hodbarrow mine and Millom Iron Works, formerly the town's main employer until its closure in 1968. A series of worksheets with photos of the mine and works provided a starting point, asking the children to list the sounds that they might hear as well as imagining a dialogue between workers.

Working in groups of 3, the children began to recreate and record the sounds using a variety of amplified household objects and instruments connected to contact microphones.
By attaching it to a flat surface, the microphone transforms vibrations in materials into audio signals, thus making it possible to record the sound of any material or surface. Among the objects we worked with were: plastic egg timers, a jar of cous-cous, pebbles from a local beach, a small wooden frog, a bucket of water and a drum machine. After choosing an object each, the children experimented with making and altering sounds by using effects boxes to add echo, distortion and to alter the pitch. These were then recorded into a looping device which automatically repeats and layers the sounds. Controlling individual loops manually, each group mixed a finished track directly to a digital recorder, providing material for the Hodbarrow section of the audio tour.

Samantha and Glenn would like to thank Copeland Borough Council and all at St. James' school for their help in organising the workshops.

Monday, 22 September 2008

North West Evening Mail, Thurs. 18th September

An article looking at the Sound Tour and other FRED 08 projects, published in last Thursday's edition of the North West Evening Mail.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

FRED 2008

The website for this year's FRED festival is now up and running, so go to to:
to see a full list of all the events happening across Cumbria from the 26th of September.

Broughton Cattle Market

Earlier today, land rovers and trailers poured into Broughton as farmers flocked to the cattle market on Princes Street for the livestock auction.

Samantha and Glenn donned their wellies and went along to collect recordings for the sound tour, paying particular attention to the voice of today's auctioneer.

Our thanks to chairman Bill Johnson for his kind permission to record.

Click here to view a report on a recent auction at Broughton Market.

Workshops at Broughton Youth Club

On Friday 5th September, Glenn and Samantha went along to the Victory Hall in Broughton to work with members of the local youth club. The club is run by volunteers and provides activities for children between the ages of 10 and 16.

Working in small groups, the children were asked to recreate sounds for different sites around the town to be used in the sound tour. These ranged from the sound of an early X-Ray machine (pioneered by a local GP), to cows grazing and fish being scaled and sold in the market square. The sounds were recreated by using contact microphones (small devices that amplify surface vibrations) and a variety of objects. These were then run through effects units to alter the pitch, add echo and to create repeating loops.

Examples included using the flapping rubber of a damaged table tennis bat to mimic the sound of fish being unloaded, the sloshing of a kettle to act as the sea and pressing the microphones to the vocal chords to create an eerie drone. The sounds were then layered and mixed by the children using a mixer and digital recorder.