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The Ear Has To Travel – Wanderlust #3: A Sonic Map of Dornoch

5 April 2018

A Sonic Map of Dornoch by Andy Backhouse



Is it okay for a passing visitor to leave a mark? I am of the philosophy that one should leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photos – however, this time I made a sonic map. There were around 14 hours’ worth of recordings taken over the week I was up there in July 2017 – Since Summer, over Autumn and Winter 2017, I have been preparing the audio files and composing them into something I can present. So, is this an audio montage? A type of music concrete? I believe it to be a Sonic Map – it is a snapshot of the Genii Locus of Dornoch at the height of summer 2017. Using the recording process of Layering I built up an audio representation of a place I hold close to my heart. This work may as well have been called “A Sonic Map of Nowhere” – but it is of Dornoch, my favourite place. The recordings all overlap so that there is an overall representation of the town. At any point in “A Sonic Map of Dornoch” there are five recordings playing back.


Dornoch is the one geographical constants I have had in my years. Throughout my life we have been moving around the country due to my Dad’s work. Dornoch is the small sea-side town where my maternal Grandmother lives and we try and get up there as often as possible. It is quite out of the way – Dornoch is a tiny sea-side town in the Highlands of Scotland – between Inverness and John O’Groats. The beach that features prominently in the recording is one of immense beauty and peace. Whilst the welcoming locals may not associate the idyll the same way I see it, I have come to associate Dornoch with a slower pace of life – there is not the bustle one associates with life anywhere else. Yes, there is the coming and going of tourists, but this is how I interpret the town – I am a tourist visiting family.


Can an artist who suffers from a disability create an artwork that frees him from his suffering for a moment? Can the practice be transferrable? As in, can the skillset be utilised for the creation of a piece of art transport both the recipient of the work and the creator of the work onto the same emotional plateau? Can this skillset be used outside of Art towards a better understanding of the Jungian concept of Personal Completion? I am a multi-disciplinary-unprofessional artist and I have a perception disorder. I choose to create sound art to document the empirical nature of the Cosmic Dance so that I have an absolute record of ‘what happened’ as opposed to what my brain tells me happened. When I say I am unprofessional, I am by trade a web designer. I keep my hand in Sound Art & music for the sheer pleasure of it; which means you have found the work of someone who creates for the fun of the act of creation, more than someone who creates to pay the bills. I am keen on the geo-location of creativity – can the Genii Locus of a place be transmitted through recorded/scored media and how does it affect the viewer/listener/recipient? Can you relocate a sense of wonderment through the recorded medium? Although the sounds herein are recorded in the far north of Scotland – I edited the release at Creao Studio, in Harrogate ( There is a duality in the artist and the artwork. But, I have had other successes in music. I run the label Focused Silence and I have had four top ten hits on the Beatport Charts in 2017 as a Dub Producer, part of Guerrilla Dub System ( I also present and produce a radio show on Soundart Radio in Devon, England. My radio show is called The Parish News (

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