Going Outside: observation and reproduction October 2020

by Caroline Kraabel

/
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    Purchasable with gift card

      name your price

     

1.
October 2020 Since lockdown began, towards the end of March, I’ve been thinking even more about the sounds of the streets, planning some work that a project grant from Arts Council England has now made possible. I’ve been walking and playing the saxophone in London for twenty years, but now I wanted to concentrate on listening and relaying what I heard as closely as possible. I planned four saxophonic walks, one in each quadrant of London, to begin to learn and reflect the sounds around me – sounds that have kept shifting their make-up and densities over the past seven months. To hear a sound is one thing, but to really understand it I have to try to play it. Having read that wind instruments, or even enthusiastic speech, might increase the spread of potentially dangerous airborne droplets, I made a mask or veil that covers my nose and mouth as well as the entire saxophone, but still allows me to play. I recorded the walks so I could listen back and work out how to do better. The first two walks (South and West) didn’t go too badly – in south London there was a lovely dog barking in F#, and a lot of variety in the sounds (ventilation shafts, traffic, construction work, birds), though only a scattering of human voices. In west London it was all motor vehicles, and very difficult to come even close to capturing with the saxophone, but the challenge was productive. A few days later I set out to play towards the east, planning to go from Blackfriars Station to the City near London Bridge. I began timidly, having realised that while the sax-mask doesn’t hinder my playing at all, it makes it harder for people to understand what’s going on (like face-masks do), and although no one had yet objected, their bemusement was often evident in a new way, different from the reactions to walks where the sax was visible. Maybe this is also to do with the long months of worry, uncertainty and fear taking the elasticity out of all of us, making us more prone to irritation and impatience. I had chosen the route for the tunnels there, which sound so beautiful. As I was approaching the end of the first of these – a cycle tunnel, parallel to the tunnel for cars that does not allow for pedestrians – just playing isolated mimicking sounds and enjoying the echoes of the traffic and the sax, a tall, very disgruntled man approached me at speed from a small empty access road sloping in from the left. He was holding an electric iron and swearing at me, radiating anger. He threw it at my head, and I managed to dodge, then he pushed me over, trying to pull the saxophone away from me, and succeeding in grabbing the mouthpiece and throwing it to the far side of the road. Fortunately, in part because I had the sax case on my back like a carapace, I was able to keep the sax safe and scramble away, running to where the iron had landed (he had had the same idea) and picking it up to keep him from getting it back and clobbering me. All along, my front was draped in this sort of white curtain/mask. Several cyclists were approaching; I went into the path and waved at them. The first just looked at me oddly, but the second one stopped; both had to have seen me being pushed to the ground. He asked if I was OK. – He attacked me! – Don’t you know him? My mind boggled to some extent at the assumptions behind this, but maybe the somehow excusable domestic dispute is easier to conceive than the veiled ambulant saxophonist ambushed by disturbed (in several senses – he obviously objected to my contribution to the soundscape) person. With the cyclist standing by, I went and recovered my mouthpiece, miraculously unchipped, and he walked with me a little way down the road, out of the tunnel in the mouth of which my assailant remained standing, looking after us. I was still holding the iron. A bit farther there was a church with a City of London rubbish bin in front of it that had a sort of pivoting container for a mouth. I’ve never seen such a bin before, but it was perfect for disposing of the iron safely. The cyclist carried on (thank you, whoever you are) and so did I, discovering that I’d hurt my left hand – not badly – and that my sax was playable but damaged in two places. I kept going for another half-hour or so, coaxing out an increasing range of possible sounds, initially very shaky but eventually feeling better, and good to still be playing (relieved). Having to take my sax to be mended delayed the fourth walk, but it played smoothly when we did it, and the walk was joyous.
2.
October 2020 Since lockdown began, towards the end of March, I’ve been thinking even more about the sounds of the streets, planning some work that a project grant from Arts Council England has now made possible. I’ve been walking and playing the saxophone in London for twenty years, but now I wanted to concentrate on listening and relaying what I heard as closely as possible. I planned four saxophonic walks, one in each quadrant of London, to begin to learn and reflect the sounds around me – sounds that have kept shifting their make-up and densities over the past seven months. To hear a sound is one thing, but to really understand it I have to try to play it. Having read that wind instruments, or even enthusiastic speech, might increase the spread of potentially dangerous airborne droplets, I made a mask or veil that covers my nose and mouth as well as the entire saxophone, but still allows me to play. I recorded the walks so I could listen back and work out how to do better. The first two walks (South and West) didn’t go too badly – in south London there was a lovely dog barking in F#, and a lot of variety in the sounds (ventilation shafts, traffic, construction work, birds), though only a scattering of human voices. In west London it was all motor vehicles, and very difficult to come even close to capturing with the saxophone, but the challenge was productive. A few days later I set out to play towards the east, planning to go from Blackfriars Station to the City near London Bridge. I began timidly, having realised that while the sax-mask doesn’t hinder my playing at all, it makes it harder for people to understand what’s going on (like face-masks do), and although no one had yet objected, their bemusement was often evident in a new way, different from the reactions to walks where the sax was visible. Maybe this is also to do with the long months of worry, uncertainty and fear taking the elasticity out of all of us, making us more prone to irritation and impatience. I had chosen the route for the tunnels there, which sound so beautiful. As I was approaching the end of the first of these – a cycle tunnel, parallel to the tunnel for cars that does not allow for pedestrians – just playing isolated mimicking sounds and enjoying the echoes of the traffic and the sax, a tall, very disgruntled man approached me at speed from a small empty access road sloping in from the left. He was holding an electric iron and swearing at me, radiating anger. He threw it at my head, and I managed to dodge, then he pushed me over, trying to pull the saxophone away from me, and succeeding in grabbing the mouthpiece and throwing it to the far side of the road. Fortunately, in part because I had the sax case on my back like a carapace, I was able to keep the sax safe and scramble away, running to where the iron had landed (he had had the same idea) and picking it up to keep him from getting it back and clobbering me. All along, my front was draped in this sort of white curtain/mask. Several cyclists were approaching; I went into the path and waved at them. The first just looked at me oddly, but the second one stopped; both had to have seen me being pushed to the ground. He asked if I was OK. – He attacked me! – Don’t you know him? My mind boggled to some extent at the assumptions behind this, but maybe the somehow excusable domestic dispute is easier to conceive than the veiled ambulant saxophonist ambushed by disturbed (in several senses – he obviously objected to my contribution to the soundscape) person. With the cyclist standing by, I went and recovered my mouthpiece, miraculously unchipped, and he walked with me a little way down the road, out of the tunnel in the mouth of which my assailant remained standing, looking after us. I was still holding the iron. A bit farther there was a church with a City of London rubbish bin in front of it that had a sort of pivoting container for a mouth. I’ve never seen such a bin before, but it was perfect for disposing of the iron safely. The cyclist carried on (thank you, whoever you are) and so did I, discovering that I’d hurt my left hand – not badly – and that my sax was playable but damaged in two places. I kept going for another half-hour or so, coaxing out an increasing range of possible sounds, initially very shaky but eventually feeling better, and good to still be playing (relieved). Having to take my sax to be mended delayed the fourth walk, but it played smoothly when we did it, and the walk was joyous.
3.
October 2020 Since lockdown began, towards the end of March, I’ve been thinking even more about the sounds of the streets, planning some work that a project grant from Arts Council England has now made possible. I’ve been walking and playing the saxophone in London for twenty years, but now I wanted to concentrate on listening and relaying what I heard as closely as possible. I planned four saxophonic walks, one in each quadrant of London, to begin to learn and reflect the sounds around me – sounds that have kept shifting their make-up and densities over the past seven months. To hear a sound is one thing, but to really understand it I have to try to play it. Having read that wind instruments, or even enthusiastic speech, might increase the spread of potentially dangerous airborne droplets, I made a mask or veil that covers my nose and mouth as well as the entire saxophone, but still allows me to play. I recorded the walks so I could listen back and work out how to do better. The first two walks (South and West) didn’t go too badly – in south London there was a lovely dog barking in F#, and a lot of variety in the sounds (ventilation shafts, traffic, construction work, birds), though only a scattering of human voices. In west London it was all motor vehicles, and very difficult to come even close to capturing with the saxophone, but the challenge was productive. A few days later I set out to play towards the east, planning to go from Blackfriars Station to the City near London Bridge. I began timidly, having realised that while the sax-mask doesn’t hinder my playing at all, it makes it harder for people to understand what’s going on (like face-masks do), and although no one had yet objected, their bemusement was often evident in a new way, different from the reactions to walks where the sax was visible. Maybe this is also to do with the long months of worry, uncertainty and fear taking the elasticity out of all of us, making us more prone to irritation and impatience. I had chosen the route for the tunnels there, which sound so beautiful. As I was approaching the end of the first of these – a cycle tunnel, parallel to the tunnel for cars that does not allow for pedestrians – just playing isolated mimicking sounds and enjoying the echoes of the traffic and the sax, a tall, very disgruntled man approached me at speed from a small empty access road sloping in from the left. He was holding an electric iron and swearing at me, radiating anger. He threw it at my head, and I managed to dodge, then he pushed me over, trying to pull the saxophone away from me, and succeeding in grabbing the mouthpiece and throwing it to the far side of the road. Fortunately, in part because I had the sax case on my back like a carapace, I was able to keep the sax safe and scramble away, running to where the iron had landed (he had had the same idea) and picking it up to keep him from getting it back and clobbering me. All along, my front was draped in this sort of white curtain/mask. Several cyclists were approaching; I went into the path and waved at them. The first just looked at me oddly, but the second one stopped; both had to have seen me being pushed to the ground. He asked if I was OK. – He attacked me! – Don’t you know him? My mind boggled to some extent at the assumptions behind this, but maybe the somehow excusable domestic dispute is easier to conceive than the veiled ambulant saxophonist ambushed by disturbed (in several senses – he obviously objected to my contribution to the soundscape) person. With the cyclist standing by, I went and recovered my mouthpiece, miraculously unchipped, and he walked with me a little way down the road, out of the tunnel in the mouth of which my assailant remained standing, looking after us. I was still holding the iron. A bit farther there was a church with a City of London rubbish bin in front of it that had a sort of pivoting container for a mouth. I’ve never seen such a bin before, but it was perfect for disposing of the iron safely. The cyclist carried on (thank you, whoever you are) and so did I, discovering that I’d hurt my left hand – not badly – and that my sax was playable but damaged in two places. I kept going for another half-hour or so, coaxing out an increasing range of possible sounds, initially very shaky but eventually feeling better, and good to still be playing (relieved). Having to take my sax to be mended delayed the fourth walk, but it played smoothly when we did it, and the walk was joyous.
4.
October 2020 Since lockdown began, towards the end of March, I’ve been thinking even more about the sounds of the streets, planning some work that a project grant from Arts Council England has now made possible. I’ve been walking and playing the saxophone in London for twenty years, but now I wanted to concentrate on listening and relaying what I heard as closely as possible. I planned four saxophonic walks, one in each quadrant of London, to begin to learn and reflect the sounds around me – sounds that have kept shifting their make-up and densities over the past seven months. To hear a sound is one thing, but to really understand it I have to try to play it. Having read that wind instruments, or even enthusiastic speech, might increase the spread of potentially dangerous airborne droplets, I made a mask or veil that covers my nose and mouth as well as the entire saxophone, but still allows me to play. I recorded the walks so I could listen back and work out how to do better. The first two walks (South and West) didn’t go too badly – in south London there was a lovely dog barking in F#, and a lot of variety in the sounds (ventilation shafts, traffic, construction work, birds), though only a scattering of human voices. In west London it was all motor vehicles, and very difficult to come even close to capturing with the saxophone, but the challenge was productive. A few days later I set out to play towards the east, planning to go from Blackfriars Station to the City near London Bridge. I began timidly, having realised that while the sax-mask doesn’t hinder my playing at all, it makes it harder for people to understand what’s going on (like face-masks do), and although no one had yet objected, their bemusement was often evident in a new way, different from the reactions to walks where the sax was visible. Maybe this is also to do with the long months of worry, uncertainty and fear taking the elasticity out of all of us, making us more prone to irritation and impatience. I had chosen the route for the tunnels there, which sound so beautiful. As I was approaching the end of the first of these – a cycle tunnel, parallel to the tunnel for cars that does not allow for pedestrians – just playing isolated mimicking sounds and enjoying the echoes of the traffic and the sax, a tall, very disgruntled man approached me at speed from a small empty access road sloping in from the left. He was holding an electric iron and swearing at me, radiating anger. He threw it at my head, and I managed to dodge, then he pushed me over, trying to pull the saxophone away from me, and succeeding in grabbing the mouthpiece and throwing it to the far side of the road. Fortunately, in part because I had the sax case on my back like a carapace, I was able to keep the sax safe and scramble away, running to where the iron had landed (he had had the same idea) and picking it up to keep him from getting it back and clobbering me. All along, my front was draped in this sort of white curtain/mask. Several cyclists were approaching; I went into the path and waved at them. The first just looked at me oddly, but the second one stopped; both had to have seen me being pushed to the ground. He asked if I was OK. – He attacked me! – Don’t you know him? My mind boggled to some extent at the assumptions behind this, but maybe the somehow excusable domestic dispute is easier to conceive than the veiled ambulant saxophonist ambushed by disturbed (in several senses – he obviously objected to my contribution to the soundscape) person. With the cyclist standing by, I went and recovered my mouthpiece, miraculously unchipped, and he walked with me a little way down the road, out of the tunnel in the mouth of which my assailant remained standing, looking after us. I was still holding the iron. A bit farther there was a church with a City of London rubbish bin in front of it that had a sort of pivoting container for a mouth. I’ve never seen such a bin before, but it was perfect for disposing of the iron safely. The cyclist carried on (thank you, whoever you are) and so did I, discovering that I’d hurt my left hand – not badly – and that my sax was playable but damaged in two places. I kept going for another half-hour or so, coaxing out an increasing range of possible sounds, initially very shaky but eventually feeling better, and good to still be playing (relieved). Having to take my sax to be mended delayed the fourth walk, but it played smoothly when we did it, and the walk was joyous.

credits

released November 1, 2020

license

all rights reserved

tags

about

Caroline Kraabel London, UK

Caroline Kraabel is an improviser in music, art, politics and life.

contact / help

Contact Caroline Kraabel

Streaming and
Download help

Report this album or account

If you like Caroline Kraabel, you may also like: