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Andy Backhouse – “Dornoch 07/2016”

Out on: Focused Silence


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I try and reach up to Dornoch once a year – My Granny lives there and in 2016 she reached a milestone birthday. Many happy returns Granny!

The whole family descended on the Highland sea-side village of Dornoch for the festivities. Whilst my family were sorting the celebrations out, I got myself out of harms way and spend a day with my field recording equipment.

Dornoch (/ˈdɔːrnɒx/; Scottish Gaelic: Dòrnach pronounced [ˈt̪ɔːrˠn̪ˠəx]; Scots: Dornach) is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, near to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east. The town is within the Highland local government council area, and within the county of Sutherland. The town also has a grass air strip suitable for small aircraft and helicopters. The name ‘Dornoch’ is derived from the Gaelic for ‘pebbly place’, suggesting that the area contained pebbles the size of a fist (dorn) which could therefore be used as weapons. Dornoch has the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop’s Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest magazine. It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch’s Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722. Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links. The golf course is next to the award winning blue flag beach.

Dornoch has remained one of the only geographical constants throughout my life.

Tracklist –

  1. Back Yard – I set a couple of Telinga Clip-On microphones up to the wooden fence that circles off the back yard to my Granny’s house. There were a few gulls and a slight breeze – the song birds chirped as my relations got to the business of organising a party.
  2. Waves Pt. I – Again, recorded with a pair of Telinga clip on microphones attached to a wire coat-hanger down on Dornoch Beach, the other side of the golf course near where the waves break over the rocks.
  3. Hotel Ambience – I retired to my B&B and set up the microphones during Dornoch’s ‘rush hour’.
  4. Marram Grass – I attached my Telingas to the stem of the Marram Grass that grows abundantly on the dunes of Dornoch Beach. Water to sandy beach. Sandy beach to Dunes. Dunes to Golf Course. Golf Course to Village.
  5. Back Yard Pt. II – Same set up as Track 1 (Back Yard) but at a different time of day.
  6. Waves II – The commotion at Grannies was proving a bit too intense so I set off down the beach again.
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dornoch-2016-1 • Experimental Record Label Yorkshire

Release: 0018


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