Peddars Way Project

The Peddars Way is a First Century Roman Road that was pushed through the Iceni territory, probably as an military means of domination, shortly after Boudicca's failed rebellion of around 60 AD. It runs across Suffolk and Norfolk, forking off at Stanton Char near Ixworth, from what was probably the main Roman road to Venta Icenorum, to what might have been a Roman port and ferry near Holme next to the Sea, now lost to the North Sea. It is notable that it touches on very few villages, instead running arrow-straight through the Norfolk countryside, which is something you notice on the walk around lunch time each day.

  I have long been inspired by landscape artists such as Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy, and have thought about ways of engaging with the landscape in some way other than just a somewhat subjective 'impression' of something; a " this is how this makes me feel" sort-of-thing. 
  Wouldn't it be interesting to actually use something concrete, such as the numbers of the coordinates, as a starting point? Crunch the numbers of a particular church's unique sonic profile? So this is a project which seeks to link communities with contemporary music which has direct correlation to their locality and history. 
  The history of the road also forms the basis of the sung text, which is taken from the Annals of Tacitus (Book XIV, chapter XXXV), containing the only contemporary account of Boudicca's (Tacitus's spelling) rebellion. I have set Boudicca's speech to her tribesman, just before she led them in battle against the Romans. This is combined with some lyric borrowings from Plainchant, namely the Dies Irae and an Ave Regina. After all, she was the queen, but about to lead her tribal host into what was almost complete annihilation at the hands of the Roman Legions.
  This is the first of a new series of projects, where I am looking at exploring ways of rooting musical structure in the landscape in more concrete fashion than just personal impressions, and combining structures derived from the landscape, recorded sound,  instrumental chamber groups and controlled improvisation. 



The piece began from  five days spent walking and camping along the Peddars Way, traversing East Anglia; carrying my tarp, soprano sax and a digital recorder. I  recorded a short pre-composed section within each of the thirteen churches adjacent to the Way; with each based on the coordinates of that church. This is enfolded into a piece for a string trio, voice and keyboard. I have also returned to some of the churches and determined the resonant frequency of their space, to inform the structure and parts for the performance. Here's the resonant profile at Newton St Marys:



And here are one of the short excerpts recorded on the walk, using the coordinates of the church at Brettenham, Norfolk. This will inspire part of the overall piece. (by the way, the soundcloud picture is not Brettenham church)