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Portrait of a Lockdown
By Caroline Kraabel for the London Improvisers Orchestra

Since February/March, sonic landscapes around the world have been shifting rapidly all the time, in many different and inhabitual directions. And we have been listening, and living, more carefully...
I asked the LIO musicians to send me, if they wished, a short recording of themselves playing (mimicking) a sound they could hear near (or from) their homes during the second lockdown (which for Londoners became "tier 2 restrictions" on 2 December).
We have had contributions from within London, and also from elsewhere. One of the few tiny benefits of this pandemic that does not allow us to perform as usual is that it’s a joy to stay in touch with LIO musicians from all over the UK, Europe and the world, and include them in our work.
This piece appears online in lieu of the LIO live monthly performance that would have taken place on 6 December 2020.


released December 6, 2020
London Improvisers Orchestra 6 December 2020

Portrait of a Lockdown
By Caroline Kraabel for the London Improvisers Orchestra.

Musicians in order of appearance:

Maggie Nicols
Outside no. 32 Neal St, Covent Garden, London. Voice.

Caroline Kraabel
Cars near St James’s Park (London). Alto saxophone.

Lukax Santana
Hola! mi contribution to the LIO
Recorded at my back garden, mimicking the birds on the tree, some seagulls flying past and my neighbour´s dog. Cariños a todxs desde Viña del Mar (near Valparaiso, Chile).
Voice etc.

Charlotte Keeffe
A short burst of me mimicking conversational and industrial sounds just around the corner from our front door here in Camden (London). Trumpet.

Pei Ann Yeoh
The sound of the washing machine near where I sleep. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Violin

Neil Metcalfe
Birds, Stepney (London). Flute.

Bryan Styles
Tractor, Great Wakering, Essex. Drums/Percussion.

Susanna Ferrar
Birds, garden, violin. London.

Douglas Benford
Traffic on the A4 (west London). Melodica.

Martin Vishnick
Predominant sounds from the window – squawking birds and rustling leaves.
Guitar morphologies mimicking – wet finger slides (for birds) and rapid mute technique (for leaves).

John Edwards
Filling the bucket in the kitchen. South London. Double bass.

Sue Lynch
Thames foreshore, near Blackfriars Bridge. As I was recording under Blackfriars Bridge, a cygnet drifted right beside us up to the foreshore and then got out for a moment from its own pool of water, then silently glided back under the bridge towards Waterloo Bridge. A nice little scene. The bagpipes were from a wake that was taking place on the foreshore at the time. Tenor saxophone.

Dave Fowler
A dose of Letchworth rain, falling on variety of surfaces. Drums, percussion.

Chris Hill
The sound of wood pigeons bickering among the branches of a neighbouring lime tree. I enjoy the tumbling sound they make and often accompany them on a Kalimba.

Adrian Northover
Basement drips in Southwark, London. Mbira.

Charlotte Hug
Drones and kids at Gladbachstrasse, Zürich. Voice and viola.

Pascal Marzan
Calling frogs from under my bed. Ten-string microtonal guitar. London.

Emily Shapiro
Wind and rain, London. Clarinet and bass clarinet.

Phil Minton
I heard something outside the door. London; voice.

Susan Alcorn
I tried to imitate a dirt bike and a siren. We live behind a fire station, so we hear ambulances and sirens all day, and then these sounds every night. In fact I can hear them now (10:12pm), though it usually starts around eleven. Dirt bikes are kind of a thing for a lot of teenagers and young men in Baltimore. They ride down the streets and do wheelies and that sort of thing. The thing is, though, that dirt bikes are illegal in the city (which is what makes them so attractive), so sometimes the police chase them. It's a thing.
Pedal steel guitar. Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Rowland Sutherland
Sonic environment: sparse traffic, airplane, in Edmonton (N. London), on the flute.


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London Improvisers Orchestra London, UK

The London Improvisers Orchestra is dedicated to free and conducted improvisation.
It draws on a large and shifting pool of improvising musicians from London and beyond,
and plays in London monthly, generally on the first Sunday of the month.
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