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Singing Station Clock immortalises voices in unique Birmingham soundscape

An exclusive club of 1092 Brummies immortalised their voices in history this week. An aural clock which will take centre stage at the new Curzon Street HS2 station will chime with the voices of ExtraCare residents as it celebrates the city with a unique new soundscape.

The clock, designed by Turner prize winner Susan Philipsz is made up of ‘ordinary’ voices which will chime every hour. Each chime is represented by a musical note, starting at 1 o’clock with C sharp. The sounds of Station Clock features Birmingham’s diverse population, using different vocal combinations for each hour over a seven-day week.

Recording took place at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Hagley Road Village retirees attending on one of the last days of recording. Those involved recorded their voice, which delivered a tone, based on the chromatic scale of which there are 12 tones, each tone representing a number from a clock. The sounds and silences in-between will be part of the artwork, creating a unique experience that unfolds over twenty-four hours, seven days a week.

Local young artist Tom who was offered one of the coveted 1092 slots, volunteered his place for a retiree to share their voice instead. He stated: “For me older people would benefit from sharing their voices more. It’s a chance to leave their legacy in Birmingham.”

Speaking on BBC West Midlands radio with DJ Rakeem Omar, the project’s composer/producer Andy Ingamells said: “The journey has been incredible, trying to collect different voices through workshops. More and more people got involved and it snowballed, we’ve had babies, heavy metal singers, a Hindi singer, it has been great to have such a mix of people assisting. Some people are trained, some have never been trained before, it has been great to listen to how unique Birmingham is, and the different voices in the city.”

Natalie Sidaway, Lifestyle Manager at Hagley Road Village commented: “We feel privileged to have been asked to be a part of this, the residents wonder if they will even be around when the station is estimated to open in several years from now so this way a part of their legacy can live on in the city.”

Friday 17th February was the final date of recording for the landmark public artwork project. The hope is that those who have taken part will be able to visit the sonic sculpture and identify their voice when the station is complete. Birmingham residents and anyone travelling in or out can enjoy the unique piece of art in the city for many decades to come.

Hagley Road Village records for Aural Clock Project