The lock shift songs (2014)



The lock shift songs is a 43 channel audio installation and song for a trio of sonic beds and a room, made by Matthews after an 86 mile solo walk to Milton Keynes following the Grand Union canal from her studio in Hackney, East London.


Commissioned by IF:Milton Keynes 2014 and the Canal and Rivers Trust, it was open in Unit 99, next to TK Max in the shopping centre:mk, Milton Keynes from 18.7 to 27.7.14. Free.



”  It was after my seven day walk following the Grand Union Canal that I realised the shape of the path I had taken. Seven days through seventy seven locks, day one passing through seven ending at bridge number seventy seven in Milton Keynes seven days later. The path from Hackney had headed west over two days, then swung north and climbed up through Denham Deep and on up to Cow Roast, where on day 4 the Tring flats open out to the skies for views before descending down to the finish.

Counting the number of locks for each day, the distance between them and the height each one rose or fell,  l saw the shape of the land and found patterns. Then making a simple system to align these figures to the 12 tone musical scale, so a melody for each day of the walk was made. ”

Using the names of the locks as words, the seven verse song ” 77 starts with 7, walked in 7, 77 ” appeared,  which rehearsed and sung by the scratch ‘The lock shift choir’, was threaded through the walk’s structure of canal recordings, worked and processed into a composition that shifted and slid between three networked Sonic Beds and ceiling mapped system for audience utter immersion.

An underwater silent film made in collaboration with Kristian Buus was also projected inside.



Software collaboration with Dr Adam Parkinson.

Song transcription, choir direction and collaboration,  Craig McCleish.

Made and produced with the support of centre:mk, The Stables, commissioned by Bill Gee and Tim Easthop, The Canal and River’s Trust.

With special thanks to project manager Jonny Hill, Christine MacSween and photographer and film maker Kristian Buus.



WATCH the making of The Lock Shift songs here.