Field Notes and Frozen Footsteps

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Thanks to the fantastic support of the Gala Network, I am halfway through a two week field trip in Montreal, working with Eric Powell of Concordia University to harvest the sounds of, and about, the St. Lawrence River.

Temperatures have ranged from minus 17 to a balmy 4 degrees, and the river as it runs south of the island of Montreal remains mostly frozen. Dog walkers stroll upon the surface of the water. The waters edge is indistinguishable from the river bank as both are covered in drifts of snow that reveal no demarcation.

Eric and I are strolling the shore between Place Des Armes and the Rapids, little by little, aiming to capture the sounds of the river – the dampened footfall onto deep snow, the crunch of tread on frozen snow, sounds of far of traffic and industry, people walking with their dogs.

Alongside this, I have been recording conversations with resident Quebecois, talking about what the river means to them, capturing first person narratives, anecdotes and forecasts.

Eric and I are talking about Desire Lines (after De Certeau), Ecotones (after Neimanis and McCartney) and Research Creation. I’m getting a masterclass in technical considerations for soundscape design directly from Eric, and meanwhile we are both aware that we are capturing a changing climate that is poised at the edge of catastrophe. Our small wish is that this work adds, in a small way, towards efforts to make a positive difference.

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