This week’s blog is a continuation of my ambient London project. I have come up with 2 other pieces since ‘A Drive to Hyde Pier’ but I found this week’s particularly interesting. The track starts by taking refuge from the rain of the previous track (not yet mentioned) into the calming atmosphere of my favourite pub.
I have always really enjoyed being at ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’ on Fleet Street, London. For a start it is a Sam Smith pub which is an independent brewer that makes nice beer, and some of it is very cheap… Those that know me know I like nice beer. This is said to be the oldest pub in the whole of London and there has been an inn here since a monastery’s guesthouse occupied the site in the 13th century; the current incarnation of the pub has been around since 1666 after the previous building was destroyed by the Great Fire of London. Historical figures such as Charles Dickens and Ben Jonson frequented the pub and the interior look and ambience of the building ooze a knowing atmosphere.
The various bars and rooms of the pub each have their own variation on these atmospheric acoustics and the brewery have a no-music policy, allowing the building’s natural ambience to come to life. The acoustics of each room seem to dictate how the occupants perceive the experience of being there and, to a degree, influence behaviour. For example, the front bar is small, wood-panelled and usually the first port of call for tourists popping in for a drink; this means that the walls reflect sound nicely but the soft furnishings give it a calming, mellow character and the uncertain, fresh punters feed off this leading to hushed voices; this is one of my favourite rooms. In contrast, the cellar bar is stone-walled and cavernous and seems to invite lively joviality. This is also the furthest room from the front door and the hardest to find, therefore maybe it attracts the more adventurous and confident punter.
So, this audio narrative ended up being dominated by the spaces within the pub and I really hope I managed to capture the feel of each of the spaces I chose to include, starting from the front bar and working my way down to the raucous cellar bar, whilst visiting the inside of a couple of pint glasses. You may need particularly good headphones to distinguish between the nuisances of each atmosphere but still listen out for them whilst taking in the history of the place. You will also notice that the calming ‘sea’ recorded/created for ‘A Drive to Hyde Pier’ can be heard as a backdrop most of the way through…but in a giant pint glass, which seems to set the whole soundscape inside of it…If you know what convolution reverb is this may mean something to you…if not, feel free to ask. These waves are a constant theme throughout most of this collection as water, the sea and the river have always been central to London. The components of this sound (cars, trees in a breeze) are central to the city these days although historians throughout time are said to have noted the constant sea-like hum of this ancient city (derived from human activity).
Best heard on decent headphones!