Summerlands 1: Jurassic Seas

Sonic Traces: From Jurassic Seas to the Avalon Marshes

This is a land borrowed from the sea. Long before humans fished or farmed this land it was sea. During the Jurassic period it was inhabited by predatory air-breathing marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs. Fossils of these creatures have been found in blue lias stone around Glastonbury and Street.

The piece starts with the sea. A sea which always threatens to return and overrun these low-lying lands. The piece then assembles a mosaic of sonic traces which mingle the actual and the imaginary but are all sounds which would have been encountered on the Somerset Levels at various times throughout its history.

These include:
the calls of pelicans – bones from many pelicans have been discovered during excavations, indicating that there was a significant population of pelicans in the area;

a snatch of the ‘Seed of Love’, the first folksong collected by Cecil Sharp for his 1905 collection ‘Folk Songs From Somerset’;

the sound of steam trains which would have been a constant sound on the levels until the Glastonbury to Wells line was closed in 1966;

the sounds of planes and helicopters, a constant and unpleasant reality on the levels today;

snatches of imaginary music from the Iron Age villages;

natural sounds of wind, rain and birds.

The piece ends with a return to the sea.

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