Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds is a body of work exploring the mimesis and representation of birds in the Scottish Gaelic song tradition. The composition, visual score and suite of habitat drawings are presented here, highlighting BALTIC’s connection to birdlife, which annually provides a temporary home to a number of the estimated 800 pairs of breeding kittiwakes in Newcastle Gateshead Quayside.

Tuulikki’s vocal composition, Guth an Eòin | Voice of the Bird sits at the heart of the project. Written for a female ensemble, the piece reinterprets archive recordings, texts, and living traditions, weaving together fragments of Gaelic song that imitate birdsong and bird calls, into a textural tapestry of sound, emerging from and responding to landscape.

Over five movements, the composition guides us through communities of waders, seabirds, wildfowl and corvids, evoking sea, shoreline, cliffs, moor and woodland habitats. The group sing the sea and the winds. They sing the motion of birds – wading on the shoreline and swooping before the cliffs.

Developed over a four year period, the work culminated in a performance event on the Isle of Canna, in the Scottish Hebrides, in August 2014. The performance took place in the harbour, on a specially constructed wooden platform with an innovative sound system suspended in the water. The music responds to the island’s topography, the co-existence of tradition and innovation, and the delicate equilibrium of island life in Scotland.

For further information about the project please visit score.awaywiththebirds.co.uk.

The artist acknowledges support from Creative Scotland, The Space, Isle of Canna Community Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Cape Farewell, and PRS for Music Foundation.

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