Welcome to This Must Be The Place – Hope and Social’s first installation
This Must Be The Place explores the ways in which people’s memories, the events in our lives, the experiences we have are embedded in the very walls and streets of a place, rooted in its very soil. Where’s that one spot in your hometown that when you’re there, you’re the most [insert hometown here] that you can be? The place that most speaks to you, that draws you home when you’re not home, that centres you, the place where that thing happened? This Must Be The Place is about those places.
Throughout May and early June 2018 Hope & Social met and spoke with a number of people from Grassington, and visited the places they felt were significant in the fabric of their lives, in this place. From these conversations and field-trips the band have written and recorded six songs that can be listened to in the six unique locations where the pieces were recorded.
These are binaural recordings which, when experienced on headphones, give a 360° audio image, rather than the standard left and right of a stereo recording; on listening we are enveloped in 3 Dimensional sound.
There’s a real sense of the space the songs were written and played in, and of the moment in time that the recordings were captured. A unique, immersive listening experience.
Our hope is that This Must Be the Place becomes an ongoing project for us. The experience of making this was far more powerful than we imagined. And we’d love to hear from you about it. If you’ve any thoughts about This Must Be The Place, please do get in touch. We are friendly people.
This Must Be The Place
A sonic time-machine. A portal to musical moment, in the very place it happened.
This Must Be The Place runs at Grassington Festival from the 15th to the 30th of June 2018.
1) The Pig Pen, The Square
2) The Bridge at Linton Falls
3) St.Michael & All Angels Church, Linton: [VIEW PANORAMA]
4) The Devonshire Institute, AKA “Grassington Town Hall”
5) The Bench at Yarnbury (opposite aforementioned lovely Bunk Barn)
6) The Black Horse, Garrs Lane, Grassington
Walk the Route
Huge thanks to our partners on this project, Great Places:Lakes and Dales and Grassington Festival. Massive props also to our friends Invisible Flock for loaning us their recorder and binaural mics… and for letting Fletch set fire to their studio whilst operating their lazer cutter.
Hope and Social talk “This Must Be The Place”
Tell us a bit about your new project ‘This Must Be The Place’
Rich Huxley: This Must Be The Place is part sonic installation, part sound walk, which can be experienced exclusively at Grassington Festival this June. At six locations in and around Grassington you’ll find six listening posts. Pop the pair of tin cans contained within over your ears, and you’ll be transported in time to six musical happenings which occurred in the very spot that you’re standing/sitting. The recordings themselves are a 3 dimensional sonic record of six moments in time; moments that are unique, that they resonate from the very soil of these six special spaces in and around the village. Essentially, it’s time travel… through the mediums of string, and baked bean can.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Simon Fletcher: Over the past year or so, following on from a conversation with Victoria Pratt of the awesome Invisible Flock we’ve been talking around the idea of location specific musical experiences, and about making music that can only be experienced in a certain place. We’re interested doing something that’s the opposite of ‘Check out our new album, available on all digital stores now!’. The idea was to try and create music that you could only listen to in a pre-determined place. We spent three days in May exploring Grassington and it’s many beautiful and wonderful places (not ‘just’ the public houses *coughs*) and spoke to a wealth of Grassington dwellers about their connection with the town.
Gary Stewart: It’s a project based upon specific geographical points in Grassington that people can confidently call the ‘roots’ of their experiences living there. We’ve taken six specific ‘roots’ and written songs that resonate with the people of Grassington’s stories and memories from that specific place.
RH: Like most Hope and Social projects, This Must Be The Place was conceived in a pub; a discussion about how important your first experience of a piece of music is, the way that influences how you think about a song; tunes you hear on holiday, drinking in the sun, songs that weave their way into your life at the most significant times. The songs that soundtrack your life become linked to those things forever. Hope and Social have always been about making experiences as much as we are about making music, and there was a happy marriage between these ideas, and the goals of Great Places, and Grassington Festival who’ve commissioned the work.
You’ve got a good relationship with Grassington Festival haven’t you, having worked with them on several previous occasions? What keeps you coming back?
GS: Have you been there? It’s bloomin’ lovely! Why wouldn’t we?!
RH: We consider ourselves very lucky to have such a good working relationship. We’ve done the first instances of a number of our projects with Grassington Festival, a festival willing to put faith in us, and take on the risk of us making something new. If it’s good art, if we work hard and try to be a force for good in the village while we’re there… hopefully that means they’ll keep having us back.
GS: They take on what others might have dismissed as ridiculous projects. They commission some great work and give artists the opportunity to take risks which is incredibly brave. We love you Kate Beard!
You have been making ‘binaural location recordings’ – what is that exactly?
GS: Binaural recordings are made by placing microphones in someone’s ears so that they pick up exactly what that person would hear. The recordings feel like you are in that persons head. You can sense people walking past you and judge what’s in front and behind you. It uses a technique called ‘Science’ to achieve this.
RH: [laughs] By placing mics where your ears are you get a recording which gives a three dimensional sonic picture. It’s to do with how your ears funnel more high-frequency information (treble) awards the ear canal than from the rear, and that your head absorbs sound. It only works on headphones, and sounds hyper-real. Our six recordings are of six musical moments, pop on the tin-can headphones provided and you’ll be transported to those moments.
What challenges have you faced in the making of the piece?
RH: If you’re trying to make a piece of work about a place, you’ve got to be attuned to that. It’s really important to not just make a bunch of stuff, call it art and deliver it to the festival. So we’ve been as faithful to the feelings, meanings of places and memories of the people as we can. Then you’ve got to make the songs work in the space you’re recording, because that’s where you’ll be listening. The songs need to be arranged specifically for the road you’re traipsing down, or the bridge you’re crossing. It’s not like making a record.
GS: With Binaural recordings you can’t mix the levels of instruments after they’re recorded so to balance the instruments and voices, we had our sound engineer Craig wear the mics/headphones and direct us.
RH: Plus, he’s got a really expensive sounding head!
GS: [laughs] True! That’s a pretty intense process when you’ve got a 30 strong choir with you singing and clapping along. Any mistakes mean a new take and we only had about an hour to record each song.
What have you learnt?
SF: The tech for the installation has been fairly quirky. Turns out it’s not too hard to make tin cans and string play back hi-fidelity audio, but getting solar panels and batteries and charging and MP3 players to all talk to each other, that’s been a challenge. We’ve laser-cut the signs, . That’s a new one for us.
RH: We’ve “learned” for the umpteenth time that lots of little things taking just a bit longer than you expect adds up to Fletch not sleeping for a week, that Simon has a steady hand, but will pour enamel paint on himself at some point, and that Craig Rothery is a hero of many talents. That, and a real sense of Grassington-ness… if that’s even a word. People really care about Grassington.
GS: Aaaand that on a hot day by a river there are lots of midges.
What can people expect when you talk about a ‘unique musical experience’?
RH: The pieces range from 4 minutes, to six minutes long, so it’s not the 3 minute pop song thing. Without giving too much away, each place has a unique piece of music, and because of how the recordings were made, each one is very definitely a moment in time. When I listen, it’s like magic. It’s like time travel. You’ll look for things that aren’t there, you’ll hear the streets echo back at you, you’ll stare at the sky with wonder.
What goes into making each piece?
GS: It started off with a lot of walking. People showing us the places they loved and us trying our best to work out how we could distill the essence of that into 6 quite short pieces.
RH: The final writing and arranging could only happen as we were making the final recordings, so there’s a lot of last minute honing, of starting ten yards further up the hill.
GS: Planning six recordings in six places, three with twenty odd members of the public joining us
RH: Paint and wood and drilling and gluing and carrying and ferrying and wrapping twine around cable, fixing speakers in baked bean cans… getting permission to install 6 plinths… eating the aforementioned beans… what else?
SF: Building the installation, making different bits of incompatible tech talk with each other.
SF: Lazer Cutting… a lot of Ed worrying
Where and how can people listen to the final pieces during the Festival?
RH: Hopefully, people will stumble upon one, pick up a leaflet and take the walk, but if you want to go the right way round… (See locations above!)