Score Tae The Toor
Score Tae The Toor is a book and CD publication inspired by the Concrete Antenna sound installation at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop created by Simon Kirby, Tommy Perman and Rob St John.
The trio gave a set of musicians access to their sound archive, tower instruments and compositions, and asked them to re-imagine the sited material created for the installation. Seven writers were asked to write pieces inspired by the tower and the installation, with pieces covering architecture, memory, archives, urban ecology and public art, written as essays, poetry and morse code.
Named after a phrase used by fishermen in the Firth of Forth using tall buildings on the Edinburgh skyline to orientate their sailing, Score Tae The Toor is a limited edition publication printed using a variety of techniques including risography, lithography, letterpress and computer controlled pen and knife plotters.
Edited by Rob and designed by Tommy, Score Tae The Toor was published by Random Spectacular in May 2016.
Musicians: Joe Howe, Jonnie Common, King Creosote, Mark Lyken, OnTheFly, WOLF.
Writers: Fay Young, Hanna Tuulikki, Jake Bee, Nicola Meighan, Richard J Williams, Stacey Hunter, Tom Western.
SCORE TAE THE TOOR – ROB ST JOHN
Antenna, speaker, periscope, trig point. Wind tunnel, sound funnel, bell tower, echo chamber. Something different every time. A tower smoothed and set for topping out. A resonant space for sounding out.
Concrete is aggregate, formed by the sifting and setting of deep time deposits. Granular particles worn, crushed and reassembled. The Concrete Antenna traces spaces reflected and refracted through granulated sound. Sonically tied to the local landscape and its various lifeworlds through field and archive recordings, but abstracted and (re)composed in ways that leave only slight hints and subtle resonances. Space for the listener to move through, where new associations and meanings might emerge. The familiar unfamiliar. Site-specific but often non-specific.
At the time of writing, Concrete Antenna has been running continuously at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop for over a year. Over this time, its sound archive has been sculpted by changes in the tide at Newhaven, the prevailing weather, and visitor movements around the tower. A recorded landscape welling up from speakers ascending the tower and muddling with birdsong, car engines, sculptors’ chisel strikes and factory sirens. The sound of the city seeping in through an open, skyward ‘ear to the air’ (along with the wind and rain). An auditory topography of chance.
Score Tae the Toor is a phrase we first heard used by a Firth of Forth dreg fisherman in a 1960s recording in the Tobar an Dualchais sound archive of Scottish oral history. It describes how tall buildings on the Edinburgh skyline – church spires, gas towers, tower blocks – were used to triangulate their location over fishing grounds.
For this collection, we asked a set of writers and musicians to create new work using the tower as a navigation post: new scores through old sounds. The musicians were given access to the installation sound archives, the digital ‘instruments’ we created using the architectural dimensions and sonic characteristics of the tower, and our own compositions.
We asked the writers to visit the tower, but not necessarily to write about it. Instead, they were given an open brief to explore the personal associations, interpretations and memories that the installation prompted. And tying everything together, Tommy’s visual art shows his attentive, creative eye for reassembling forms from the urban landscape: shifting scales with subtle possibility.
In this way, this new collection of words and sounds is in keeping with the approach we’ve taken from the start: to set the starting points, but to allow the influence of people and place to trace new lines on the map.