The good news: when Wellington composer Nic MacGowan broadcast a 25-minue "futuristic concert" consisting of wailing sounds dubbed the Synth Birds of Dawn, at 6:30 am from the hills surrounding Island Bay, at least eleven people complained to noise control.
It's heartening that people are now prepared to demand the same respect for peace in the morning hours, as in the evening.
On the other hand, McGowan was clearly unrepentant, and of the view that complaints were driven by mere philistinism. He appeared on the front page of the Dominion Post, defiant on a hilltop beside his Dawn Synth machine. The sounds had apparently been inspired by the dawn chorus and, god forbid, church bells.
The synthesizers and speakers on three hilltops were intended to create "soft creature-like tones" across the valley. "We were basically playing Island Bay like an instrument" he said. "it was an incredible sound, you get all these slapback echoes".
Right on. But get this, dude. At 6:30 am, many people are bloody well sleeping. I wouldn't care if it were the choirs of seraphim themselves that were singing - my response would be the same as when the unidentified council contractor chose 6:55 am as a good time to clean up the verge outside my window with a weedeater the other day.
In our rather frantic modern existence, sleep is a rare, precious commodity. And for me, and I suspect quite a few others, it is sweetest of all in the early hours of the morning. As much as we try and squeeze ourselves into the 9-5 mould demanded by this society, our metabolisms know better. You early risers are welcome to leap out of bed before the crack of dawn - but please, give us the same respect as we do to you when you stagger off to bed bleary-eyed at 10pm.
The upshot of the compaints were that McGowan decided to shift the time of his second "concert" planned for the following morning - to 7:30 am. I'm just glad I live very far away from Island Bay.
In the end, though, I understand his creative urges. So I'd like to pass this message to the misunderstood composer:
Nic, I too was disappointed that many Island Bay residents failed to appreciate your futuristic and innovative concert the other morning. I appreciate what you were trying to do.
You see, I'm an aspiring experimental musician too. Right now I'm interested in the sounds created by the interaction of organic and industrial objects. One thing I'd like to do is take a stick, a piece of driftwood, maybe, and run it up and down the colorsteel roof of a house. The driftwood the bow; the roof the instrument. A meeting of the driftwood's weathered curves, shaped by wind and tide, with the rigidly corrugated, industrial surface of the steel. You know?
Nic, can I come over and do it at your place? I would "play" your house. I'll be over to do a 30 -minute concert, ok? Starting at 11:30 pm on Tuesday night?
Categories: Wellington, noise, sleep