Sonic Intrigues

Sonic Intrigues (2019).
Fixed media sound installation (6-channels).
SONA (Deborah Egan, Lucy Cheesman and Amy Beeston)

A soundscape in the Round Building cutlery factory created by SONA, inspired by and experimenting with sounds from the factory floor.

Sonic Intrigues is the latest project from Sheffield sound art collective SONA. It is a multi-channel sound installation composed using sounds from the metal-working of knives, forks and spoons at David Mellor’s workshop in Hathersage, in the Peak District National Park.

The David Mellor workshop employs a small specialist team of highly skilled craftspeople to create sophisticated, modern tableware, using traditional hand-crafting techniques. Designed by architect Sir Michael Hopkins in 1990, the factory itself – the Round Building – is small and purpose-built, with a circular shape that perfectly accommodates the different stages of cutlery-making in an anti-clockwise journey around the factory floor.

For this new work, SONA has composed a multi-channel soundscape incorporating natural, mechanical and digitally processed sound materials from different stages of the assembly cycle in the factory – the stamping, filing, grinding, burnishing, polishing, and so on.

For some, Sonic Intrigues may challenge preconceptions of where sound ends and music emerges.

Before beginning to compose, SONA spent time in the factory observing, discussing and recording different parts of the cutlery manufacturing process, echoing Bauhaus principles in studying the raw materials and the processes of making before undertaking new design. After getting to know the sounds of the factory floor, SONA’s composition then arose from sets of experiments with – and inspired by – these recorded sounds. The result is a collection of seven short pieces, each following a different sonic idea to transform raw sound into composed material.