Softday have just completed the initial research phase for a project entitled Amhran na Beacha (Song of the Bees). We are working on a sonic understanding of the life of honey bees and current threats such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Data, field recordings and information collected during our research will be used to shape a composition. The life of so many plants and animals on planet Earth are dependent on the existence of bees. Humankind have urbanised and commodified both our own lives as well as the bees. We are exploring these issues through music, sound art and multimedia.
In our research, we visited a number of bee keepers in Ireland and carefully listened to their thoughts about the bees, the environment and the world.
On Jack Ryan’s Honey Farm in Pallasgreen in Co. Limerick, every tree, shrub and plant has been selected for biodiversity, ecology and the well-being of bees. We had the opportunity to walk the grounds guided by Jack and to record the sounds of several of his bee hives.
On Galtee Honey Farm in Co. Tipperary, Micheal Mac Giolla Coda (one of Ireland’s most knowledgeable bee keepers) opened up several hives to show us, and let us listen to and record, the bees at work.
Jenny Haughton is an independent adviser and evaluator in contemporary art, collector and teacher in arts management, as well as a bee keeper. Jenny has been our collaborator from the beginning of this project. We recorded some of Jenny’s bees on a grey and drizzly morning in Sandyford, Co. Dublin.
Glenstal Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in County Limerick. It is situated on a large woodland site. It is also a residential boarding school. On the grounds of Glenstal abbey there is farming, a terraced garden and bee keeping. The monks of Glenstal Abbey are collaborating with us in this project.
The more we have listened to the soundscapes on these sites and made numerous field recordings, we hear more and finer differences. The bees appear to have local timbre, which varies with both weather and the general well-being of the bees. We now have a substantial corpus of field recordings that we’re analyzing and we are building a special octophonic microphone rig to fit into a bee hive, to be part of a live sound art performance.
We are currently working towards the world premier performance of this work in Glenstal Abbey, the 27th of April 2013, 15:00.
For more info and to follow the project, http://www.softday.ie/bees/