Last Sunday I volunteered for Living Symphonies, a sound installation in Epping Forest which, is part of the National Park City Festival, London’s largest free celebration of the great outdoors from 20 to 28 July 2019. Living Symphonies is the work of artistic duo Jones/Bulley who have a lot of experience creating sound installations. The project was quite complex to explain to visitors so it was interesting to see people’s reactions about the project. Some were very curious about how the whole thing worked, while others simply wanted to enjoy experiencing the unexpected sounds a forest environment. The sounds are played by a system of three-dimensional speakers so when you walk into the installation area one is immersed and mesmerised by sounds and audio sensations.
This ever-changing musical composition responds to real time changes picked up by the installation’s weather station nearby. A software model of the forest, which has all the species living in the forest mapped, runs the musical composition. Each species has its own sound and local musicians play the sounds for each species of Epping Forest which may be flora, animals or insects. So the installation is such that music created changes depending on the time of day and also responds to the weather. This is a clever way of understanding what happens within the forest and in this unique ecosystem because the music is created is modelled after the behaviour of the species.