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  • Quee MacArthur


Updated: Mar 29, 2021

In Telluric Translations we have been using the features of our local landscapes to inspire new music.

I went down by the river in Newburgh and drew a sketch of the skyline while turning slowly round. I simplified this onto one page with three lines to be interpreted as a score. The lines can be read as either tempo, pitch or intensity. We based our first zoom improvisation on this and I went on to use this as the basis for my first recording for Telluric Translations in Pro Tools. My first attempt was to improvise something in free time on double bass, which although enjoyable I did not really feel I had translated what I had observed visually. I decided I would like some rhythm to play to and put down a shaker track to a click. I started with bouzouki and developed some slow progressions at 105bpm then overdubbed a second track of bouzouki and then a bass part. I ran into some difficulties with recording this track in that I observed I was being very self critical as I felt I was not playing in time very well. I edited some of the takes to make them more in time and resolved to come back to it and have another go. On returning to this track I found listening brought on a feeling of sadness which was not really my intention when recording it. I speculated that sometimes the emotions that develop because of our situation in lockdown come out in the music that we record. I recored a new bouzouki part in free time that was based on the first one and found it much more descriptive. The tempo was about 124bpm so I decided to speed up the whole track and record new bouzouki and bass. I followed this up with a percussion track and uploaded it for Joe, Charlie and Luke to do overdubs and recorded some tracks on their initial responses that they had sent to me.

We all used a similar process in our own local area, both Charlie and Joe chose to use a direct view from their windows as inspiration and Luke sent us this photo in an email of a group of trees on Flinders Island with a line tracing the outline.

Luke wrote "Tea tree is most common on the island in clumps around little streams. I used the tree line of this for melody as I thought the outlier poking up high might be nice. I’ve whacked down some guitar at a bit of vibe around it all - its all quite austere and beautiful as an island archipelago goes. The neighbouring island is literally called Cape Barren.”

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