Our Song of the Day ties into my previous interview with Hanna Tuulikki, where that focused on the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song spinning-in-stereo draws on the full cycle of working with wool and its associated musical traditions. This was too beautiful to leave to another day.
This is a new composition for two voices, presented as a visual score, and vinyl LP. The piece adopts a traditional Gaelic spinning song, Oran Snìomhaidh, as the basis of a circular score.
Singing with Hanna is Mischa Macpherson, a singer and musician from Lewis who won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award (The Mischa Macpherson Trio) this year.
Liner Notes by Frances Davis
The work of turning wool to yarn and yarn to cloth sets in motion the rotations of the spinning wheel, the spooling of spun yarn, and the waulking of the tweed. Each labour has its own rhythm found and settled on through tradition and the task at hand, as hand and eye intertwine with song and the melodic rise and fall of voices sets the pace and marks time passing, time to come.
Originally composed in response to the short film Eriskay: A Poem of Remote Lives (1935), a portrait of Hebridean crofting life filmed by the emigree German ethnographer Werner Kissling, Hanna Tuulikki’s spinning-in-stereo draws on the full cycle of working with wool and its associated musical traditions. She takes up Kissling’s interweaving of the rhythms of land and work, which he recorded during a summer on the Isle of Eriskay.
spinning-in-stereo is a composition for two voices, unfolding forwards and backwards through 14 circular arrangements of a motif adapted from the traditional Gaelic spinning-song, ‘Oran Snìomhaidh’. Performed by the artist and Mischa MacPherson, a singer and musician from Lewis, their interweaving voices are a reminder that much of the wool cycle was the responsibility of women, working and singing together.
As the needle falls and the record spins, the singers notes, elongated as taught thread, gather pace, winding up to a steady pulse that captures the rhythmic to-and-fro of waulking, cloth pounded against wood. The music shifts pace and pitch in response to the film’s fluid narrative, as it flows from panoramic landscapes to the rhythmic communal activity of manual labour. Turning the record over, the cycles reverse and the tightly wound voices unravel, returning to stillness.
spinning-in-stereo is more than a spinning song, for, like Kisslings’ film, it plies together the rhythms of indoor work with the outdoor cadences of land and life, where time turns on and cannot be turned backwards.
 Waulking, which has its own particular musical form, òrain luiadh, was measured by song, not time. It was never said, “it will take another half-hour” but rather “it will take another song”.
Order via Bandcamp here: https://hannatuulikki.bandcamp.com/album/spinning-in-stereo
The piece will be exhibited at the Travelling Gallery as part of GENERATION. This mobile gallery on a bus, will go on tour to cities, towns and rural locations around Scotland from July-November 2014. Tour dates and locations here.