(2010-2015) composition, performance, visual score, drawing
Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds is a body of work exploring the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song.
Hanna’s vocal composition, Guth an Eòin | Voice of the Bird sits at the heart of the project. Written for a female vocal ensemble, the piece reinterprets archive, weaving together fragments of songs and poems that are imitative of birdsong, into an extended soundscape, emerging from and responding to landscape.
Developed over a four year period, with outings at various venues including BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Tectonics Festival, and Rip It Up at Glasgow’s Tramway, the work culminated in a performance event on the Isle of Canna in August 2014. Commissioned as one of the closing events of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, the performance took place in the harbour, on a specially constructed wooden platform with an innovative sound system suspended in the water.
The visual score forms the basis of a digital online iteration, commissioned by The Space: Digital Arts Online (2015). The audience is invited to navigate through the depths and breadths of the composition, research and performance, in an interactive iteration that brings together audio recordings, film, drawings and essays
The music responds to the island’s topography, the co-existence of tradition and innovation, and the delicate equilibrium of Hebridean life. Over five movements it guides us through communities of waders, seabirds, wildfowl and corvids, evoking sea, shoreline, cliffs, moor and woodland habitats. The ensemble sing the sea and the winds. They sing the motion of birds – wading on the shoreline, swooping before the cliffs, and beating skeins. As the music ebbs and flows, they call to mind the eco-tones where species meet. Listening to this musical portrait of the inter-relationship between bird and human, we recognise a lineage that stretches back to early hunter-gatherer cultures for whom bird-calls and animal cries had magico-religious symbolism – like the splay-toed fowlers who scaled the cliffs of St Kilda.
Produced by Suzy Glass with Cape Farewell
Image credits: (1) Alex Boyd, (2) Daniel Warren