Friday, 25 May 2012

A very old flute indeed

Another from the BBC: Apparently archaeologists have discovered flutes made from bird and mammoth bone. The flutes, from a cave close to the River Danube in southern Germany, are about 45,000 years old.  The BBC article is here while the source article is from The Journal of Human Evolution.

The picture, of one of the flutes from two angles, suggests a swannee whistle but I'm pretty sure that what appears to be a stick protruding from the bottom of the instrument is just a label.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Why the British talk about the weather

My first real brush with the outdoors this year involved a weekend at what will be this year's Midsummer Camp venue.  The last weekend in April and, although not especially cold, it never really stopped raining.  Blind optimism, poor judgement and bad luck caused me to turn up with a strange tent and no car to retreat (or escape in).  And I quickly discovered that my tent had no fly-sheet.

The following weekend was to be the Body Land Movement dance event in Cambridgeshire (see recent post).  I was looking forward to this but confess I didn't fancy another wet camping experience, even though we had been allocated a yurt and the site boasts a kick-ass sauna. And there was another reason why I was apprehensive.

A highlight of the wet weekend in Suffolk was watching a mediaeval band, in costume, playing wonderful music. An experience made all the sweeter by the knowledge that I was about to be rescued from a second wet night in a horse shelter.  One of the players complained of cold hands so, in a fit of mediaeval chivalry, I proffered my hand-warmers.  These garments, a gift from my daughter, make playing outside possible at all times of year.  And now I'll be without them until I return to Suffolk in mid-June.

But just as it looked like the rain would hold off, in spite of near-zero temperatures, and the dance weekend would go ahead, news reached us from Cambridgeshire.  The river had burst its banks, flooding the woodland where we were to camp and hold the workshops. The dance floor and the main infrastructure was unaffected but parking, camping and walking about would be impossible.

Now, only two or three weeks later, we have blazing sunshine and temperatures in the mid twenties.  And who knows what it will be like in September when the re-scheduled event takes place? So, if there's nothing else to talk about in Britain, there's always the weather.

That's the kitchen on the right.  Drinks by the pool, anyone?

Friday, 18 May 2012


It's about time I posted.  It's been a busy week with three shows on the go, two in rehearsal and a 'show and tell' session about the R&D (research and development) for Pied Piper.  But I'm a firm believer in procrastination; it allows time for assimilation and for fresh ideas to appear.

So I've been doodling. I first came across Norwich based artist Sarah Beare when I saw an animation of hers at the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts. It had been made for an exhibition called 'Unearthed' which featured Japanese and European figurines from the early Stone Age. Sarah's animated figure was a response to that.

More recently she has been making small silver figures, a mere 31mm long, called Dolossies.  Last year Sarah made an animation to illustrate and explore their potential.  The animation was silent but, we agreed, crying out for sound.  So I took Sarah's starting point - hitting a bunch of keys - and had a go.  And, as it is such a short piece, I had two more attempts. My intention was to take a very different approach each time but somehow I kept mining the same vein.

If you're interested in the figures, and other larger figures being specially manufactured in China to Sarah's specifications, then she has a website. And Sarah's blog, which tells the story of the figures as it unfolds, is at

Each clip is only 35 seconds long.