Peace of Home Shawn Pinchbeck

At the beginning of the global pandemic in May 2020, I was living in the North Western Peace Region of Alberta, Canada in the city of Grande Prairie.

Looking for something socially distant and outdoors to do, I started driving into the countryside and recording the soundscapes I found there with a Sennheiser Ambeo VR Microphone and Zoom F4 recorder. At first, I didn’t have a project in mind. I was just enjoying exploring the different places I found and the recordings I was making. Then, an idea for a soundscape piece documenting places in the four directions away from the city took hold.

The area itself is very diverse with the northern most Canadian prairie making up a large part of the area, but also forests, foothills, lakes, rivers, and vast valleys with significant natural areas. Depending which direction you travel from the city, you find different types of economic and human activity such as: farming, honey production, forestry, oil and gas and recreation.

The piece follows the chronological order of my explorations into the four directions from Grande Prairie. Most excursions were day long experiences with sometimes hundreds of kilometres covered, thanks to the long daylight hours in north western Alberta.

The recordings you hear start with my backyard in Grande Prairie with the noise of pickup trucks and people in the neighbourhood as a storm approaches kicking up the wind. In the first segment, we travel to the East down Highway 43 towards the vast Smokey River valley and the nearby badlands of the Kleskun Hills. In the second segment, we go South down Highway 40 to the nearby Wapiti River Valley and O’brien Provincial Park, where many Grande Prairians go for walks and picnics in the park. We continue to the Grovedale area with its endless kilometres of farmland and finally end up in the Rocky Mountain foothills at the picturesque Musreau Lake. In the next segment we travel West to the Beaver Lodge area, just a few kilometers shy of the border with British Columbia; enjoying the hospitality and environs of filmmaker David McGregor and his bees, ducks and chickens. In the final segment, we go north to the Dunvegan suspension bridge that spans the mighty Peace River valley and the historical site there, finishing a bit south west in the nearby Saddle hills at a lake at the top of a hill by the name of Hilltop Lake!

I wish to thank the Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society and their Artist Bursary program for funding this piece. I also wish to thank the Northwestern Polytechnic for providing the recording equipment.

Source: 2022

  • Year of composition: 2021
  • Genre: Soundscape
  • Format: Fixed media
  • Hardware used: Sennheiser AmbeoVR Mic, Zoom F4 Recorder
  • Software used: Reaper
  • Duration of the submitted work: 57:00
  • Premiere: April 4, 2021,

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