Harborough Nights

Market Harborough in beautiful sunny weather has a continental feel and there is a terrific restaurant where we can sit outside and enjoy gin cocktails and good food.


We have made two trips there recently, so this blog entry has some pictures of those journeys. It takes a day to go from Yelvertoft to the top of Foxton Locks, then a morning (or more if you are unlucky with the lock queues) to go down Foxton locks and along the Harborough Arm to Union Wharf. The trip from Yelvertoft to Market Harborough can be done in 30 minutes by car! Canal travel is slow, especially when the canals follow the landscape as the Grand Union does. It takes us a couple of hours just to leave the village of Yelvertoft.

The trip involves going down Foxton Locks. This amazing 10-lock flight has been covered before in this blog, so here are just a few videos from these particular trips:

On the second trip, the Foxton Festival was in full flow. We have now got our trader’s licence for ‘Froth on the Daydream’, so one day we will probably join in with these trading boats that sell a range of wares to the passers-by. In the meantime, Louise continues to sell her leather roses across the world.

Going through Foxton Locks turns Froth into an instant tourist attraction!

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These “gongoozlers” did everything except climb aboard! They peered through the windows, taking photos of the interior (quite what they expected to see is anyone’s guess) and peppered both Louise and I with endless questions. These ranged from: “is this boat really your home?” to “when is your wife going to get on board?” People sometimes find it hard to accept that Louise operates the paddles. They see sexism in the division of labour, as Andy does the ‘easy’ business of steering the boat into the locks.

The Harborough Arm is a very beautiful and winding stretch. There are a few houses along the way, including this peculiar one which is apparently something to do with the Scottish Clan Kerr. The motto translates as: “late, but in earnest”.


There are also two swing bridges to navigate. This one involves actually stopping the road traffic.

The prize for all this is to arrive at the moorings at Harborough Basin or Union Wharf. It costs £10 per night, but it is well worth it for the electricity hook-up, free water, facilities, and the general ambience, which is fabulous…

…even at night!



The Winds are complete

After five days in the studio, and quite a lot of advance preparation on the boat, the winds for Movement 1 have been completed. Each wind comprises a collection of sound files which add up to its character. The sounds include natural/environmental recordings, instrumental and synthetic timbres. All of them are treated in some way, at the very least embedding directionality as described in previous posts, but in some cases spectrally treated and processed.

The bass clarinettist behaves like a kind of weather vane in the performance. He will face a given wind and play from a menu (yet to be composed) of material in response to the sounds that emanate from that direction. When he tires of a particular wind, he will turn to face another direction.

Meanwhile, the computer will trigger anything between one and the maximum number of sound files available in a given wind folder. The triggering will occur randomly within a 30 second window. Since some of the sound files last more than a minute, it is likely that the ‘tail’ of one wind will still be playing when a new one is faced. This should add richness to the musical experience.

The material in the wind folders is unified according to the timbral map given in a previous post, i.e. by shape, timbres, pitch centre (where appropriate), gesture, envelope, etc. Even so, there is a lot of diversity. It will be a blowy and slightly chaotic piece, just like the experience of standing on Kelston Round Hill!

The Movement will begin with the North West wind, which consists entirely of unpitched sounds from the computer and from the bass clarinet, who makes various air noises and clicks. After that, the shape of the composition is determined on the fly by the performers  (Roger Heaton and myself, in this case).