wind chill: -3°C
wind speed: 20km/h
wind direction: north westerly
The views from the tiny sandy beach at Telegrafbukta on the southern most tip of Tromsø are breathtaking. Again we had a clear day.
We met musician and composer Kristine Hansen in a frozen car park next to the beach where she had suggested we film her playing her instruments around our listening head. A Ma student at the Musikkonservatoriet Universitetet i Tromsø, Kristine’s interests lie in ethnic music and in particular the music and instruments of the local Sami culture. She told us today that it was percussion instruments that were really her passion, and finding ways of “playing them dirty” as opposed to the perfected way she was taught during her earlier studies.
While we set about casting our head and unraveling our recording equipment Kristine organised the percussion instruments she had brought with her, rattle made from reindeer ribs and sections of antler with local wood, a reindeer bell and a pair of singing bowls.
With her selection of instruments Kristine played improvised music and sounds into the binaural mics. Shorly after we started recording a family with a troop of tiny kinds in wintery onesies came down onto the beach and began splashing and playing in the clear waves. The result is a layering up of the ocean waves hitting the beach, children laughing in the background and Kristine’s instruments played right into the ears.
Snow. I have heard the myth that Eskimo’s have many different words for ‘snow’, and now here in the Arctic Circle I understand.
The snow I used to cast our very first heads back in Dartmoor National Park in Devon was soft, sticky, and malleable. The snow on the peak of the mountain yesterday had a hard crust that, with some effort, gave way to a soft layer underneath. In Tromsø town it is in no longer snow but dirty, hard lumps that becomes a slide of black ice on pavements and stairways. Surrounding the beach at Telegrafbukta the snow was crystallised, hard, crunchy, slippery and difficult to cast.
Momentarily lost in our breath-taking surroundings we were worried about the results and lack of detail in our cast heads. But we quickly realised that it is not our mission to create a perfect sculpture, captured in a perfect film, in a perfect place. The aim of Switching Heads - sound mapping the Arctic is to reveal what and who is really here in the Arctic Circle.
Some Sami words for Snow:
čahki “hard lump of snow... hard snowball”
geardni “thin crust of snow”
gaska-geardi “layer of crust”
gaska-skárta “hard layer of crust”
goahpálat “the kind of snow-storm in which the snow falls thickly and sticks to things”
guoldu “cloud of snow which blows up from the ground when there is a hard frost without very much wind”
luotkku “loose snow”
moarri “brittle crust of snow, thin frozen surface of snow
ruokŋa “thin hard crust of ice on snow”
seaŋaš “granular snow at the bottom of the layer of snow”
skárta “thin (more or less ice-like) layer of snow frozen on to the ground”
skáva “very thin layer of frozen snow”
skávvi “crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the top of the snow during the day”
soavli “very wet, slushy snow, snow-slush”
skoavdi “empty space between snow and the ground”
vahca “loose snow (especially new snow on the top of a layer of older snow or on a road with snow on it)”
Holly Owen & Kristina Pulejkova