NOTES FROM A TREMULOUS HAND
A SONIC NOVEL BY JAMIE SMITH
KATHRYN JOSEPH ~ ASHLEY SMITH ~ TIM INGRAM ~ FEDOR BUNGE ~ JAMIE SMITH ~
SHUNA SCOTT SENDALL ~ MR McFALL'S CHAMBER
LEE ALLATSON ~
THE OCCULTING ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS OF St.MARY'S & St.VITUS
COMPOSED AND RECORDED BY JAMIE SMITH
‘But how ephemeral the sounds of the world: how tremulously like a dream they slip among our memories.’
In a remote coastal village in the Scottish Highlands lies The Institute, a listening station designed to capture every sound that has ever been made. Largely ignored by the rest of the world, the sleepy lives of the local inhabitants are thrown into turmoil by a series of strange events and the arrival of the sinister Colonel Nancarrow…
“Notes from a tremulous hand” is a sonic novel by Jamie Smith, an episodic yarn spun from words and music. Through the ears of a grotesque array of characters, a chamber punk romance of Wagnerian proportions unfolds, with mysterious shipwrecks, macabre musical rites, ‘pataphysical doings and sound and music at the dark heart of the narrative.
‘What strange echoes from beyond the doors of our perception might still survive the aeons to reach the dying brain in those final moments? And could any man hope to hear the voice of God and not be driven mad by it?’ - Joseph Snorquel
Sonic Novel is a term I coined when nothing else quite seemed to fit.
'Notes from a Tremulous Hand' is, in essence, a story about sound told through sound. In order to do so, I had to explore my own relationship with sound, and find ways of allowing the characters in the story to do the same. I had to create a secret soundworld unique to each narrator, through which they might explore the nature of sound and memory, being both nuanced and detailed and also bombastic, playful and ridiculous. As Mahler would have it, it 'must be like the world. It must contain everything'. And it must, of course, include fart noises. So the term Sonic Novel seemed to fit.
Over it’s three and a half hours duration it ranges wildly in mood and tone, borrowing as it goes from musique actuelle, radiophonics, contemporary music, alt rock, pop art, sonic theatre, sound design, sound walks, radio drama, podcasts, audio books, hörspiel (‘earplay’), ambisonics, immersive audio and binaural recording, musique concrète, cinema for the ears and many other forms of audio storytelling.
‘Notes from a Tremulous Hand’ is an open invitation.
Step into a secret sound world.
This is what she hears as she sits in the Cave of Voices:
A sailor lost in the Ocean of Quiet sounds;
The woods gently murmuring, buzzing;
Three Foghorns bass and long, call along the Hushed Shore;
A Weird musical ritual under Dog Shit Alley;
An echo from the birth of the world.
And far below, the mute, watery earth:
Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water -
A deep resonance
Basho, 1686, translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa