Yesterday evening I listened yesterday to a recent episode of 'Late Junction' in which Anne Hilde Neset was taken by Jana Winderen to a snowy forest just outside Oslo to discuss field recording. I have embedded a clip of this below, although I'm not sure how long it will be available. I would actually recommend listening to the whole programme while you can (among other things it includes a wonderful Morton Feldman tribute on what would have been his ninety-second birthday, David Fennessy's 'Piano Trio - Music for the pauses in a conversation between John Cage and Morton Feldman'). Winderen talks about the way the sounds of the forest change completely day by day - sound like light has to be captured instantly or it is gone forever. She has been waiting many years to catch a particular lake when it is just about freezing. At that moment the ice is like a drum skin and if you tap it you can hear the sound flying over the surface. But on the rare occasions when the lake has been in this state, she has happened to be without her equipment. "Then I just have to listen to it with my ears and remember that, recorded in my memory".
After listening to this programme I took up a book, the latest collection of Thomas A Clark's poems, Farm by the Shore. As I read it, I kept thinking of the deep listening and close attention to landscape that Jana Winderen describes. Poems refer to the drone of the wind, the water song in leaves, the lapping of little waves, unquiet on quiet. A small brown bird hidden in glancing light seems to vanish when it stops singing. There is often a focus on such moments, when what is observed offers an insight into the processes of thought. 'Quicker than tadpoles / in pools the shadows / of tadpoles in pools / or the notion of shadows / of tadpoles in pools.' There are places, these poems suggest, to which you can retreat to tune the mind or simply find repose in the shadows of trees. Jana Winderen's recording includes the sound of tadpoles at rest, hibernating in their cold winter pools, waiting for spring. Waiting is essential for her too, as she "concentrates into the environment" and begins to notice small things or experience chance phenomena like snow falling from a tree. It is easy to picture Thomas A Clark walking the winter woods and listening to them with similar quiet patience: 'snowflakes on eyelashes / frail songs by torrents.'