Sea Songs Soundwalks

Available now in Scarborough and Whitby

Sea Songs is a sound art project inspired by North Yorkshire’s marine heritage and wildlife and takes the form of two audio walks – one in Scarborough and one in Whitby. The project is created by sound artist Rob Mackay and students from Scarborough Sixth Form.

Download the app for a GPS triggered sound walk around Scarborough and Whitby – your phone will guide you to locations around the coast where you can listen to newly created audio works relating to the marine environment.

How to participate

Please go to  https://explore.echoes.xyz to download the Echoes app, and then search on the app for ‘Sea Songs Soundwalk Scarborough’ or ‘Sea Songs Soundwalk Whitby’.
Available from 22 October 2021.

Behind the scenes

Young people from Scarborough Sixth Form were guided by sound artist and acoustic ecologist Rob Mackay to collaboratively create a series of sound artworks. The young people went on a beach walk and a boat trip to create field sound recordings of marine mammals and their underwater environment, including the sounds of seals and a pod of dolphins.

They learned about artistic and scientific approaches to acoustic ecology and practical techniques to create a soundscape composition and gained knowledge about the importance of marine conservation and the role art can play in understanding climate change.

Watch their story through the video below, filmed and edited by Jamie Muir.

The final sound piece

Sound artist Rob Mackay put together an exquisite sound piece that weaves together a collage of recordings he and the students made during the project. It attempts to convey a sense of the more-than-human world in which we live and to open our ears to the strange and often unheard soundscape which is literally a few meters off the shoreline. 

“The piece opens with the ghostly wailing of grey seals, perhaps evoking the memories of mariners’ tales of mermaids and selkie. We then move to a rock pool on the beach at South Bay where we can hear the release of oxygen bubbles as some seaweed photosynthesises, revealing the often hidden sound of this process.

We’re then introduced to human voices, but from the listening perspective of the rockpool . The piece then transitions to the howling din of a jetski recorded underwater which then moves to the constant hum of a boat engine, reminding us of our entangled and often invasive relationship with our environment.

Through this morass of sound comes the unmistakable clicking sound of bottlenose dolphins as they communicate and echolocate underwater.

This sound develops into a sound edit made by workshop participant Alfie Johnson who weaves in a breathlike sound from the sea, reminding us of our genetic heritage with these ocean mammals. ” 

Rob Mackay

The sound piece ends with the crackling texture of snapping shrimp as they stun their prey with the powerful sound waves produced by their oversized pincers.

Sea Songs is part of Wild Eye – an inspiring new nature and art project that brings together leading artists with great opportunities for people in the Scarborough and Whitby area and visitors to observe and engage with the outstanding wildlife found along the North Yorkshire coast. 

Wild Eye has been developed by Invisible Dust and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in collaboration with Coast and Vale Community Action (CaVCA), and English HeritageSea Songs was run in collaboration with and funded by English Heritage’s ‘Shout Out Loud’ youth programme.

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