Soundscapes with Laura Barton

Radio 4 has an excellent new series, Notes from a Musical Island, in which Laura Barton visits four parts of Britain to explore connections between place and music. It’s so good, indeed, that having listened to it this morning on the radio I opened up the BBC iPlayer on my phone to hear it all over again.

For the first episode, she visits musicians who live by the water in North-East England, from folkies to punks. There’s a physicality to the music here, she says, “that seems to reflect the muscularity of the landscape and the way of life”. Among those she meets is the piper and fiddler Kathryn Tickell, who has the River Rede running “worryingly close” to her house — and opens the back door so we can hear it. Tickell tells how she wrote a song about a local stream, Hareshaw Burn, making the tune change course and time signature in accordance with the flow of the water. Then the tune “got out of hand”. A year later, there were massive floods in which Hareshaw Burn burst its banks…

In The Guardian, Barton writes about where else the series has taken her.


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