BEDLAM (ˈbɛdləm)
-n 1. a noisy confused place or situation.
Listening on the Farm – thunder in the farmhouse

There have been massive storms rolling through two nights in a row. I am such a fan of storms when outside of the city. They look and sound amazing. The whomp, gzzzzz, rumble with the flash and the counting for distance (5 seconds is about a mile) is definitely a favorite listening experience. Being outside of the city and experiencing intense storms such as these reminds me of the power of the natural world and there are things that no matter how we try, we humans just can’t control. We can’t make storms and we can’t prevent them. We can do our best to seek shelter but there are times when the storm decides to come inside too, as the basement in the second house on the farm fell victim too last night. The moment when the full realization takes hold that nature is still pretty well in charge is the moment when the power goes out, you hope it’s just a flicker, it stays off, and you realize after a couple minutes that you now don’t know if it will be minutes, hours or days until the power comes back on. In the early hours of this morning, the power went off for a couple hours making it very clear where I stood in the larger order of things. Luckily I had the storm to listen to with a sense of reverence and enjoyment.

I wonder if there is a name for stormfans like there is for railfans–who I’ve recently learned are called “foamers” by train workers. It’s not storm chaser because I don’t go looking for them. But when they descend upon me I thoroughly enjoy watching and listening. Here on the farm, the experience of these storms has been quite amazing. First, the openness of the farmland surrounding the house creates an expanse that allows the light and the sound to travel and reverberate all throughout the landscape. Similar to the wind, the effect of the lightning and thunder has very little mitigating it as the weather cell blows through. Adding to this are the characteristics of the house and the room that I am staying in. The farmhouse is over one hundred years old and it feels like it. With many bedrooms, a couple bathrooms and several closets and common areas, the house is open and many of the surfaces are hard, adding to the reverberation of the thunder as it reflects around the cavernous room in which I am staying. The room is also on the southwest corner of the house, meaning that it has been facing the majority of the storm activity rolling through the landscape. The lights are amazing. The sounds are beautiful. The storms are powerful. They wash the landscape with a range of frequencies as they rattle and resonate throughout the built structures. Hearing the old structures of the farm respond to the storm has been a really fascinating experience. With mostly indoor artist activity, the weather and its affect on the material of the farm has become another defining characteristic of the soundscape during my time here.







All content ©2014 Alex Braidwood unless otherwise stated.


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