Palimpsest: stella obscura


Programme notes

PALIMPSEST: stella obscura is a found sound piece in which the voice of the machine is more persistent than the voice of the woman.

This is a 'tape piece' in a very literal sense. What happens when someone erases a recording - by recording 'nothing' over the top of it? In the real world there can be no nothing - even the tape recorder makes sounds, which it then struggles to record until something else occurs. Do people, like tape recorders, listen more carefully when there is nothing to listen to? We shall never hear the public performance which was once on the tape, but in the private space of an office, the voice of the singer gradually asserts itself amongst the smaller voices of machinery and furniture. And an arrangement is made, which we shall also never hear completed.
There is also a poem...


Grateful thanks to Stella Birchall, for both the original (erased) recording and the one that became this piece.


  • California State University, Fullerton, USA, Third Annual Women and Gender in Music Festival, Electro-acoustic Listening Room, Hearing Voices, 14 March 2004
  • University of Aberdeen, Scotland, experimental music showcase Phonography Concert (headphone installation), 27 January 2005
  • Butterfield Gallery, Jedburgh Community and Arts Centre, Jedburgh, Scotland, in Sound Cafe, 26 November 2005
  • Binaural Audio Art Symposium, Music Centre, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England, 15 July 2007
  • Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, in the Zeppelin festival of sound art, El Sonido en la Cueva, 13 March 2008
  • Central School of Speech and Drama, London, England, Theatre Noise Conference (listening room), 22-24 April 2009