With a long held desire to find a way to express the landscape of Glencoe in the back of my mind, I gazed across a view of a gentle rolling hillside with, by chance, telegraph wires traversing the foreground dissecting the land.
Here, even though there were three lines of wire rather than five, I could imagine the contours of the land as variations of pitch against the telegraph wires acting as a musical stave.
Using the traditional musical stave was unusual for me. Despite working in music for many years I had never previously employed it, but for this exploration it was the perfect tool.
My trial run plotted notes against a photographic panorama of Kop Hill in the Chilterns. I was impressed enough with the results to head to Glencoe.
Known as the ‘Valley of Weeping’, I was well aware of the famous history of Glencoe. I knew of its unique atmosphere having been several times before, but I wanted to find a way of exploring this extraordinary place without prejudice.
If I had tried freely to artistically express Glencoe, my knowledge and emotional attachment would have flavoured the composition but “Transcribing Landscapes” allowed the land to naturally speak for itself.
These mountains have watched and witnessed all at Glencoe, sharing both sorrow and joy. This land reflects the people and the people reflect the land.
Despite the fact that the shape of the land dictated all the melodies of all of these suites, I still had could influence tempo, arrangement, duration and instrumentation.
I loved the time I spent in Glencoe, camping on the shores of Loch Levin, gathering the raw material for the composition through photos and field recording and most of all from talking to the local people who shared tales and knowledge of the area.
Glencoe is a truly remarkable place and I hope this music has captured something of its incredible atmosphere.
If you would like to contact me regarding this work, hear the test recording of Kop Hill in the Chilterns or plans for future “Transcribing Landscapes” you can do so via
Taking melody from the foreground, the background and the extreme foreground of the image. The main theme is of the journey across the picture from left to right with variations including travelling back from right to left and looping the score on melodic points of interest. It also features a field recording from the foot of the mountains.
Also featured is Main Stave Free a more organic version of the same piece.
A single journey from left to right at a slow tempo.
The main theme is taken from a left to right journey across the image with variations returning back the other way and looping sections of landscape. I took the liberty of adding some percussive elements to this piece. Plus field recordings from the Glen.
The repetitive rhythmic signature is taken from a section of notes from the small stave. Both staves are in the treble clef. I decided to use this method so I could pick out the detail of the distant mountains and also the foreground.