Foghorn Requiem

Foghorn Requiem

foghorn requiem

Research centre
Art and Design Research Centre


Foghorn Requiem is a landscape-interactive musical composition performed by three brass bands, 60 ships at sea and Souter Lighthouse Foghorn

Commissioned by The National Trust in 2011, Foghorn Requiem is a landscape-interactive musical composition for the Souter Lighthouse Foghorn, highlighting the passing of the foghorn from the British coastal landscape. Foghorn Requiem is performed by the ship horns of a flotilla of sixty vessels on the North Sea, three onshore brass bands and the Souter Foghorn itself.

Foghorn Requiem pursues an inquiry into the complex interactions between sound, atmospheric physics and landscape, and it’s impact on the experience of the listener. It investigates the foghorn as a sound associated with time and distance that is uniquely shaped and encoded by the changing atmospheric conditions and innumerable echoes and reverberations of the particular geographic landscape through which it travels.

Extending methodologies developed in ‘Black Shoals’ and ‘Most Blue Skies I+II’, Foghorn Requiem involves complex atmospheric, acoustic and landscape interaction modelling to incorporate atmospheric conditions and the physics of distance, space and landscape directly into the musical composition. Custom software simulates all of these effects, allowing the composer to work with a new musical element; incorporating the reverberation of the landscape as a timbral element in the composition. The final composition features synchronised, controlled acoustic blending of sounds originating miles apart, with conventional local sounds. Foghorn Requiem was the flagship event for Festival of The North East. It was viewed by an estimated audience of more than 8.000 and received considerable nationwide and international press, radio, television and peer reviewed coverage.

On June 22nd 2013, more than 50 ships gathered on the North Sea to perform an ambitious musical score, marking the disappearance of the sound of the foghorn from the UK’s coastal landscape. Foghorn Requiem was performed by three brass bands, 60 ships at sea and the Souter Lighthouse Foghorn. Conducted and controlled from afar, ships sounded their horns to a score taking into account landscape and the physical distance of sound. The composition, performed live to audiences on the coastal cliffs, was played across a space of several miles around Souter lighthouse.

Funded by: Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Denmark, The National Trust, Festival of The North East and South Tyneside Council

In kind Support: Newcastle University, Customs House, Kockum Sonics (Sweden), Delta Acoustics (Denmark), UK Coast Guard, Trinity House, Sage Gateshead, DFDS Seaways, Port of Tyne, South Tyneside Council, North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA), Northern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA), Svitzer Marine, The RNLI, Northumbria Police, Ocean Youth Trust North, Marine Support and Training Service (MSTS), North East Maritime Trust, Royal Quays Marina, Sunderland Yacht Club, Bright Blue Studio, Wearside Pneumatics, Friars Goose Water Sports Club, Red Seals Rescue.

Please visit the project website to find out more.

The Foghorn Requiem has been awarded The Arts Council of England Award 2014 at this year's Journal Culture Awards, an annual event which celebrates the most significant contributions to the North East's cultural landscape in the past year.

Document downloads

Researchers involved

Lise Autogena - Professor of Cross-Disciplinary Art

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