Recording gongs in the mines at Alderley Edge. Such a cool thing to do! 🙂 So lucky to have met the people to make it possible! 🙂
The mines are absolutely fantastic. They’re just a five minute walk from the Wizard Inn in an area that inspired Alan Garner when writing The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.
Carrying the gongs through the gorgeous woods to the mines’ entrance was nothing short of exhausting, but even in those few minutes, you started to feel connected to the area, inhaling the essence of the countryside as you went.
My sore shoulders and hips (two days later) are testament to how much of a struggle it was to carry a 38″ symphonic gong for five minutes through winding passages that had no intention of letting me stand up straight. I can only thank the others for helping carry all the other stuff! One of the other items we took along was my Sound Creation Earth gong (made by the fabulous Broder Oetken)… perfect for the mines. Looking back in time a little…. when I first received the earth gong (which I named Serafina, after the witch from Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights Trilogy’) its power struck me head on, and it reminded me of witches casting spells, of snakes rearing up, hissing wildly, of sensuous, slippery beauty of a rather tricky nature, and of shocks of precious minerals coarsing through deep rock as if put there by lightning…… so where better to be playing her than down in the mines 🙂
The mines are so atmospheric, added to by all the tales of expeditions from long ago. The ambience is incredible….. a stillness, simultaneously ancient and present…. a near silence, broken only by the occasional drops of water that fall and collect to form tiny streams through the tunnels (I hope to be able to hear the water on the recordings…). The darkness so complete. Once we reached the intended cavern, we shared a little mini-picnic (Cadbury’s heroes I believe Tina?), trying not to blind each other with the lights from our hard hats. Tina decorated the space with fairy lights and then before we knew it Biff and I were left to do our thing, which began with scoping the place out, deciding where to put the gongs and the mics. There were loads of really cool nooks and crannies, little hidey-holes to climb into and tunnels to explore… (I’m pleased to say that plans are in place to put on some gong baths in the mines and I can only imagine that people will love climbing into these super-special spots). So, as you might expect, before doing anything else I put on my super-funky gong socks (as made for me by Jaz, my sock-knitting partner of gloriousness) and they let in just enough of the cave dirt to give me what I needed while keeping my footsteps quiet and my toes cosy 🙂
Once we’d got ourselves sorted we got straight into it. We’d planned to do a couple of 45 minute takes, but the second I started playing, any such plans were lost in the depths, replaced with an acute sense of my own heart, inspiration prickling my skin, and a silent mind wide open for the experience to go deep beyond measure. Time was a memory and playing was all. Every strike felt like a new idea was born within its momentum, and every pause gave rise to a song of beauty forged in my heart and set free in my outstretched arms, in the tunnels of the mines, in the deep, deep underground. A moment came when the gongs began to quieten and I hadn’t the heart to change their direction, though I knew I’d not been playing long. There was a sense of wonder so strong and a big smile inside that let my plans dissolve, replaced with this creative moment, alive and so sweet as the gong’s tones slipped away into the expanse of everlasting silence. The 45 minute take turned out to be only 12 minutes long, but sometimes 12 minutes is just right 🙂 And the other wonderful thing was that it left time for lots more recording…. and the day continued that way…. lots of recordings, none of them reached 13 minutes…. and we couldn’t have been happier. Biff said that as he listened to the gongs, he wondered what curious creatures might be heading our way, attracted by the sounds. I think we may have been the curious creatures 🙂
Thanks so much to Bill and Tina (from the Caving Club and Pixieland respectively) and to Biff (WR Audio) for making it happen.
If you’re interested in my previous Gong Spa Experiences CD, you can buy one at one of my gong baths or you can digitally download it from Band Camp at this link…. https://gongspa.bandcamp.com/releases
As for the Alderley Edge recordings, they’ll hopefully be available soon 🙂
Ooh, I just got an email from Biff with the recordings ….. I think I’ll have a listen 🙂
Bye for now….. x