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Global Sound Movement recreate the sounds of the stalactites in St Michael’s Cave

Sound Magazine 250219( Photo John Bugeja )

The Global Sound Movement, a project headed by professors at the University of Central Lancashire, is hosting an exhibition of recordings include sounds of stalactites from St Michael’s Cave.

The exhibition called ‘Hidden Melodies’ is open this week at the Magazine Studio Theatre in Flat Bastion Road.

Ever wanted to hear what the sounds the stalactites at St Michael’s Cave would make if they were instead situated at the Moorish Castle?

Well, the mystery is over. A group called the Global Sound Movement has done just that.

The team recorded the sound of the stalactites being slapped and the reverberation it makes.

Then the team including students from the University of Central Lancashire recorded various locations across the Rock including the Moorish Castle and a digitally recreated the sounds the stalactites would make in that location.

At the Magazine Studio Theatre visitors had the opportunity can create their own music using a sound board crafted by GSM.

University of Central Lancashire Music Production Course Leader Phil Holmes and Head of International Partnerships and Development Paresh Parmar are in Gibraltar hosting the exhibition that they explained how sounds differ depending on the location.

The echoes of St Michael’s Cave will be heard differently when in a long narrow tunnel in the Rock.

“When the dimensions of the room are different it means that the echo of any sound of either closer or further away,” Mr Holmes said.

“In some of the chambers in the World War II tunnels they are quite narrow and really long so the reverb goes on for ages.”

The team also recorded the reverberations at the Europa Point tunnel when there was no traffic running through.

“We pop a balloon because the balloon pop is a very fast sound and we capture all of that reverb,” Mr Holmes explained.

“Through a process called Impulse Response Generation we can create the impulse response of that space and then we can load it onto a computer to recreate that reverb of that space.”

This data would then be used to recreate how the stalactites would sound if situated in different locations.

“Our time in Gibraltar was spent popping balloons, hitting stalactites and going to Morocco,” Mr Holmes laughed.

The team wanted to unite Gibraltar and Morocco that according to mythology was separated by Hercules.

Stationed at the Pillars of Hercules last year the team decided to reunite Gibraltar and Morocco through music.

GSM was separated into two teams with one taking European musicians to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar whilst the other crossed the Mediterranean Straits to Morocco where they met a group of local musicians.

At precisely midday, both groups of musicians performed in synchronisation in a one-off recording session.

The purpose of this was to record an individual performance, that when played back would reunite these two geographical locations.

“Gibraltar is a sonically rich area,” Mr Holmes said.

“As it’s so small and surrounded by water there is always a sound present. Hopefully what we have done through this project is draw people’s attention to all these weird and wonderful sounds that we just take for granted.”

The team are also creating a virtual reality system using these sounds.

Mr Parmar explained that by using virtual reality people can play the Chinese drums in St Michael’s Cave or the stalactites elsewhere in the world.

Those who can’t attend the exhibition can also play the stalactites on GSMs website:

“On our guestbook you can create a message type in an entry, submit it and it will play,” Mr Parmar said.

“Every letter of the alphabet has a stalactite sound to it.”

GSM has worked across the world in Uganda, China, Bali and many more countries.

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