Derry Denatured


Using unconventional recording techniques and studio trickery certain qualities within the Derry soundscape have been highlighted, exaggerated or distorted into something unusual and unexpected – obscuring what was once recognisable and enabling radio listeners to hear the city in a new light.

Taking the everyday sounds of the city as a starting point, a series of field recordings selected for their ambiguous qualities were played back to Derry residents; the sounds became increasingly distorted as the sequence progressed. The ambiguity was heightened through a variety of unusual recording processes including extreme close-ups, electromagnetic induction, ultrasound, binaural stereo, hydrophones and contact mics. Additionally, digital processing techniques were used to further ‘denature’ these once familiar sounds. Participants were asked to identify, describe and imitate each sound. The resulting 'sound descriptions' were in turn used as briefs to create artificial or exaggerated sounds matching the qualities described by subjects. In the final work, the natural and unnatural sounds of Derry are intermingled in a long form radiophonic sound composition that meanders through the city accompanied by insights and analysis of the sound environment by the people who inhabit it.



Featuring the voices: of Sarah Barr, Fiona Burke, Eamonn Brown, Amanda Doherty, Charlene Smith and Marta.

Commissioned for the ‘Derry City of Culture 2013’ radio residency broadcasts by Resonance FM and the Jerwood Foundation in association with VOID gallery.

First broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM, October 2013.

© MMXIV Mark Vernon: All rights reserved