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Plate 6: 2833 2843 2931 (ballet) (1930)

from Penallta Colliery: Sound pictures [album] by John Harvey



‘Plate 6: 2749 2833 2842 2931 (Ballet) (1930)’ provides an interlude. Ballets were often incorporated in French opera to provide a break – a divertissement – from the singing. In the context of the suite, the ballet provides a momentary cessation of otherwise relentless sounds of industry.

The composition is based upon a scene that occurs early-on in the movie, set outside the colliery’s Lamp Room. There, colliers received their mining-lamps; each device having been duly maintained and safety-checked. Each possesses a unique number; those of four mining-lamps are spoken on the soundtrack.

The annunciation of the numbers provides the source material for the composition. The voices were slowed-down considerably, reversed, played in contrary motion against the forward version, and re-equalised to emphasise the harmonic content. The modified output was, then, edited and rearranged to create a sequence of different melodic fragments, some of which are repeated linearly while others, at the close of the composition, looped and superimposed.


from Penallta Colliery: Sound pictures [album], released July 31, 2022


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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