Ypres was the epicenter of the Western Front in The Great War and was virtually destroyed by the conflict. It has since been rebuilt to its original plans, finished only relatively recently. The museum is housed in the rebuilt cloth hall that stands in the centre of the town and was once the hub of the towns industry.
Hundreds of thousands died in Ypres and the surrounding area. Allied cemeteries and graves are everywhere. It is overwhelming. Though in keeping with the perspective of the new museum a need to bring the essence of the experience to a personal level felt crucial. To somehow loosen it away from the images we have all become accustomed to.
A deep connection and inspiration for the work was found in the quiet, dignified German memorial garden of Vladslo and Kathe Kollwitz’ famous ‘Grieving parents’ statue that resides there.
The work is an evolving soundtrack to the vistors journey through the exhibition. Its aim was to become the sound of the air within the museum, never to be over bearing. This journey is punctuated by private comtemplative spaces where the score was allowed to become more poetic.
Given that buildings are known to be highly individual, the spaces within them resonating differently, it was felt that the building itself resonated to the key of F. The starting point for the music became a musical cluster of E flat, F and F sharp. Stuart Staples and Dan McKinna worked closely together to compose the work.
Recording the score, with its ever variable bar lengths and being void of vibrato was a tense day, presided over by long time collaborator, orchestra leader: Lucy Wilkins. The orchestral recordings were made at the Church in Crouch End, London and were then taken back to Le Chien Chanceux studio in France to prepare for the installation.
A beautiful bank holiday weekend in May 2012 was spent meticulously building the soundscape for every individual space, for each step through the museum.
This music was never created to be a stereo image as the various components were mixed together in the individual spaces of the exhibition. A second wave of studio work yielded this version.
The music in the museum itself loops seamlessly all day, everyday. It is music without a beginning , middle or end.