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‘Soundpaths: Heptonstall’ is an immersive, interactive musical work that uses audio augmented reality (AAR) to blend the performed music with the soundscape of the performance location; the village of Heptonstall in West Yorkshire. The music itself is created in large part from field recordings captured at the performance location, and it can be argued that such recordings act as depositories of information about the places they were gathered from. Most obviously, they recall the moment of their capture, but they also evoke the earlier eras that helped to shape the current physical and societal landscape. The composition is a ‘placed sound’ work; performed through a GPS-enabled Smartphone and headphones. GPS technology allows for the mapping of a composition over a landscape so that the music is experienced within the context of a very specific geographical location. It is possible to achieve precise alignment of sound with space that enables the structuring of a musical work around specific landmarks.


‘Soundpaths: Heptonstall’ is an arrangement of a traditional Yorkshire folk song, Lyke Wake Dirge, that tells of the hazards the soul faces on its way from the material world to purgatory. The song was chosen in reference to the belief that more than 100,000 bodies are buried in this small village, largely due to the fact that burials in the Upper Calder Valley could only take place in Halifax or Heptonstall until the 17th Century. By offering audiences an immersive, site-specific experience, they can be encouraged to develop a deeper engagement with the history of a performance location. Using ‘Soundpaths: Heptonstall’ as a case study, this paper will discuss the use of placed sound and AAR as tools for the interrogation of a specific site, its history and its soundscape.

The first research output to be produced from ‘Soundpaths: Heptonstall’ was the paper, ‘Soundpaths: Heptonstall: Using Placed Sound and Augmented Reality to Engage Audiences with the History of a Performance Location’, which won the AMPS - Intellect Books ‘Mediated Cities Award’ for high quality scholarship at the Intangible Heritages conference at the University of Kent in June 2022.

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The field recordings used in Soundpaths: Heptonstall include sounds that were captured in the village itself and on the surrounding moors. 

All of these field recordings were incorporated into the final work - some in their raw form, some after various degrees of processing. 



Soundpaths: Heptonstall: Using Placed Sound and Augmented Reality to Engage Audiences with the History of a Performance Location - Conference paper presented at Intangible Heritages Conference 2022, University of Kent, Canterbury, UKDOWNLOAD

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