Acoustic spirits of place

Being a singer and musician, I’ve always had a consciousness of acoustics, and it slowly dawned on me that this is not universal. Apparently not everyone automatically does this or grasps it as an idea, so I thought I should share… Every space has its own sound quality. As a Druid, in ritual or just connecting with a place, the sound of a place is easily tapped into and, I feel, really enables you to engage with its spirit. Using the sound resonance of a space really adds to ritual work and performance.

If you listen to a space, you can start to get a sense of how the sounds work. Are there echoes? Is sound bouncing about? Or travelling to you from afar? What makes sound here? If there’s anything vertical, be that a slope, a tree, a standing stone, you can bounce sound off it a bit. The big stones at Stonehenge are amazing for this. Messing about with your voice and listening to what comes back will tell you what’s going on.

In buildings, the height of walls, length of room, shape of ceiling will inform how the sound behaves. Often, some spots turn out to be better than others. If you can stand in the right place, throw your sound the right way, you get to tap into that resonance. The space takes your sound and embellishes it. Sometimes certain notes or pitches work better than others, and if you can hear that, you can play with it, pitching your voice accordingly. It works as well for speech as for song, and puts you into the most magical kind of interaction with your space.

If you can tap into the echoes, into the pitches that suit the space and find the right place to stand to get the best audio effect (that might simply be upwind of everyone else so the wind takes your words to them, and not away) you are in harmony with the space. The space is working for you, you do not need amplifying, your words fly out as if by magic.

I’ve been doing this for lot of years, and I know when I’ve understood the space and worked with it, because not only do I hear the soft echoes supporting my voice, but I notice how much quieter people are. Get this right and an audience that might otherwise have been restless will stand still, silent, spellbound.

Druid magic… bard magic… there’s some science in this, although you have to work intuitively and with your senses to use it. This is the simplest way of adding a magical quality to your words or music, and it works anywhere. Even the deadest room will have places that work better acoustically than others. So, if you see me ambling about a place, staring and the ceiling and humming quietly to myself, this is why. I’m listening to the spirit of the place.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Acoustic spirits of place

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    I am totally with you on this. Acoustics and overtones and what not, are as alive, and as “see-able” to me as the ‘feeling’ and material composition/configuration. It all creates the space. I can’t say I think about it much anymore, as it is a perception I have always had, and was surprised in my younger years to find out that it wasn’t the same for everyone. ‘Silence’, as it were, is really ultimately RICH, and gives so many clues and it’s own special conversings.

  • Erik

    As a singer myself I completely understand sounding out a space – but I had never thought to relate it to the spirit(s) of the place! I am going to have to sit with this for a while… thank you!

  • treothe

    Yes this is finding the place of agreement out of which the seeds of peace may take root – beautifully explored!

  • Angharad Lois

    I love this. Yes, absolutely, yes 🙂

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