Home   News   Article

Audience to play their part in new sounds for Alness campus music leader

By Margaret Chrystall

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Peter Noble (left) with Liam Ross at Belladrum where they performed the piece.
Peter Noble (left) with Liam Ross at Belladrum where they performed the piece.

Music created over four years by a Highland musician will get its official debut live performance on Thursday – with a little help from the audience!

Peter Noble who has created four albums of music capturing the sounds and environment of the Cromarty Firth landscape, has spent the last few weeks experimenting with live performances of it including the audiences at different locations across the Highlands, to test it all out before the main performance at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness on Thursday, September 7.

READ ALSO: Easter Ross guitarist wants to put hometown on map

Peter – the Creative Arts Curriculum leader at UHI North Highland’s Alness campus – began the project creating the music for an album during lockdown.

He looks back to the beginning as his work on the project reaches its final phase, possibly its final phase.

Q The event on Thursday brings the audience together with the performers – but the audience will be playing their part too, won't they?

A Peter: This performance is like the conclusion of things I have been doing over the past few years. I remember talking after the first work I had done, the recordings of me walking, and I remember you asked 'How would you perform it?' and said 'You could go to the locations!'. I was interested in creating a performance where it felt that you were transported to the locations. Since then I have been thinking about it and I was lucky enough to get some Creative Scotland funding so that I could do some workshops in the last few months, trying to use the audience to create the atmosphere.

Q How did it work with all the different audiences?

A It was different audiences, different age groups in different places in various ways! Some of it worked brilliantly, some of it hasn't. For this final performance I am hoping to have some folk online as well as the live audience and that will add a whole different dimension. Now people watch a performance online, but to me that feels as if you are not very engaged and it feels as if you are watching a performance online. What I am attempting here is that the folk online have to be involved too – or at least I am hoping they will be. Cutting a long story short, at Belladrum and the workshops I've been doing I tried to increase the level of audience participation. At Belladrum, Liam Ross and my daughter played with me. And though I was delighted with how it went, I couldn't do most of what we are going to be doing on the 7th. But I think we did do participation and there were a few moments when it felt as if we were engaged in something together.

Q Did the workshops of the performances change as things went along?

A We did one with a group at the Seaboard Villages in Balintore that sing together, we went to Park Primary in Invergordon with Primary 4,5,6 and 7s, we went to Drummond School and we also did it with some people at the Cameron Trust. Doing it with different age groups meant different expectations when you worked with those different groups. We had wanted to see if this performance would work in those different situations and it seemed to.

Peter Noble back at the start of his creating music and recordings to capture the sound of the Cromarty Firth.
Peter Noble back at the start of his creating music and recordings to capture the sound of the Cromarty Firth.

Q It seemed you may have come across a future project along the way?

A There were a couple of moments we have developed when there isn't any backing and all that is happening is essentially the audience with Liam Ross and myself essentially making the performance of it and going forward I almost want to do a version of it when there are no backing tracks at all and everything is created in the room. There are lovely moments in order to do a lighting effect and the sound of the environment is there and the music is playing and it's gentle. And each time, there have been a couple of times when it has felt as if the atmosphere has shifted from a normal performance to something ... I don't know what it is, but it felt different.

Q Is this performance going to be different from other things you have done?

A I genuinely think this isn't like other things. It will be a different evening and I will be delighted to share it with folk. It is hard to describe, it is just a gig where I am singing songs and the songs are about locations of the Cromarty Firth. But on top of that there is a significant amount of audience participation – gentle audience participation. No-one is going to be put on the spot! But by doing the audience participation what I've found is, even in a primary school, the audience are attentive in a way because you have given them something to do, it feels like we are all in it together rather than just being a performer, which I've really enjoyed and valued it being a group experience. And that is what I am hoping to happen.

Q The music will come from which of your albums' tracks?

A It's the three albums –Walking North, Following The Water's Flow and In The Lee Of The Wind.

Q What do you think of the albums now that the music is going to be performed live?

A For me this has been a really interesting process, but I think sometimes it is hard to be confident about a body of work and not rely on them or try them on an audience so you know they work. This is stuff that not until recently I've performed live. What has developed I think is a performance that has an atmosphere and a pace that works well within it [celebrating] the natural environment.

Q What's next for you Peter – is there another part to your outside project around the Cromarty Firth coming?

A I have already started and I'm trying to do more complicated environments with different noises. A campsite with my sons, different voices and different languages and someone walking past in wellies to the bin. It will have songs on it but I am going to let the sample come back and want it to be gentle enough to be listening to the environment and the songs. They coexist. I did one at Belladrum that I think I will use but obviously that is easy, a train station and will do a supermarket and keep going and obviously on the same lines. But the thing I'm interested in doing next is working on a live performance I'm doing these environmental situations but the audience is with me creating the environment but having nothing else but what is in the room. It is in development.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More