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Whitelee Windfarm

If this blog is to be indicative of a musical process relating to my own compositional inspirations and development, it seemed crucial to explore an environment which I felt passionately about and could draw upon for some initial creative concepts.  

I have just visited Whitelee Windfarm, the UK’s largest windfarm which is situated on Eaglesham moor, only a few miles from my home. It must be said that seeing these turbines as most of us do from our car and train windows, or on the distant horizon, does not do justice the immense size of the site but also the turbines themselves. As I left the car and walked down the first path toward a seemingly indistinct white tower and propeller, the sheer enormity of a structure I had seen so many times from afar became starkly present.

I must say I immediately felt a sense of music emanating from the area as I stood looking out over tens of turbines all seeming to be in sync with each other then completely at odds with each other’s rhythm.  

An initial thought when watching the turbines at their toil and production was of the environmentally charged film Koyaanisqatsi (1982) This Hopi Indian word 'Koyaanisqatsi' means ‘life out of balance’ and Godfrey Reggio created a film fusing imagery of natural landscapes and modern technology set to a soundtrack created by Philip Glass.

If Reggio intended to show how humanity and nature had drifted apart, I could only sense that the scene I was involved in when looking out from the viewpoint at the windfarm was one where humanity was succeeding in fusing necessary change with conservation and environmental concern.

The relevance of this film and its theme relates directly to the type of music I had conceived as a cognitive footnote when surveying the windfarm. As I thought Koyaanisqatsi, I thought Philip Glass and I hear repetition, note addition and dense layering of sounds. I heard Steve Reich, phasing and pulsing and Max Richter shifting dynamics in a delicately simple but emotional violin loop.

As I walked around the windfarm I was struck by the sounds created throughout the area. A distant pulse or vamping bass becomes the sound of a jet engine when approaching a turbine from one directing which is accompanied by a high pitch whine as you approach the blades


I decided on my next visit to record the turbine movement and make some sound recordings…

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©2017 by Jacob Hodge