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Composition Ideas

Whitelee Windfarm is positioned on what can certainly be called a moor. In his book, The Moor: Lives Landscape Literature, William Atkins describes the purple heather, tussocks of grasses, rough, uncultivated and pitted with patches of wet sludge of most moorland and Whitelee is most assuredly no different. Poet Ted Hughes describes the ‘empty horror of the moor’ with ‘grass tugged by the mad and empty wind.’ There is an imagery to be found within these portrayals which could lend itself to Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ song cycle, lonely trudging and broken heartedness composed through Robert Müllers epic poems. Although romanticism and pastoral compositions feel to me as relevant to the scene, the turbine structures create a riving tendency toward different compositional concepts.


Spurred on by my initial thoughts on a previous visit to Whitelee, I made some basic video and sound recordings of the windfarms at work. On the first visit around the site, I felt an immediate association with Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, but also drawn to the work of the films composer Philip Glass and other artists such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Max Richter. Drawing upon Steve Reich’s work Electric Counterpoint III and Six Marimbas as well as Philip Glass’s Cloudscape, I began to sketch some initial ideas and a rudimentary recording to assert some musical direction.  


This piece is created using a classical guitar and nine different guitar parts. To replicate movement and repetition the music follows a basic pulsing Dmaj7 chord which each guitar fades in and out with during the first section followed by a pulsing F#m in latter section. The call and answer of solo guitar lines throughout follow a descending pattern in reference to the turbine blade movement. The panning of the instruments in production is replicant of the spacing of turbines when in the scene of Whitelee site itself.  

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©2017 by Jacob Hodge