Conceptually the idea for these recordings was to trace the River Till from its watershed on the Border Ridge downstream to the Till gorge and its confluence with the River Tweed – taking in the step-pool stream flowing through Hen Hole, steep gravel-bed rivers, the Hethpool Linn waterfall and the large alluvial floodplain of the Milfield Plain. However, the spatial concept became a temporal (climate change) one by the time I reached the confluence of the rivers Glen and Till, which is when I realised how low the water flow actually was. Here, the river level meant the gravel bars in the channel acted like small dams, the river silently trickling over them downstream towards its final steep descent through the Till gorge to the Tweed. The microphones for the two recordings that make up the track ‘Confluence (Land of Silent Waters)’ were fixed to a tripod placed in the river, but the dominant sounds are wind and the distant agricultural machinery working on the Milfield Plain. 2018 witnessed the joint hottest UK summer on record, with climate scientists concerned about the impact of a warming Arctic on the position of the jet stream, which would normally bring wetter and cooler weather to the UK. My final recording was made when leaving the Till gorge, the weather broke and heavy showers hit this northern corner of England.
“…the gradient, the composition of the banks and riverbed, how much energy and friction there is, whether it’s cold – all these parameters affect the sound and make it impossible for any one river to have an intrinsic characteristic sound” (Annea Lockwood, 2013).