• Charlie Moores

Zugunruhe




Now here’s a word to open a new blog with. ‘Zugunruhe’. But it is (with a bit of poetic licence) a perfect description for the nervous anticipation, the wanting to get things underway, that working with Jo on ‘Common Ground’ has been making me feel.


Zugunruhe is a compound word from the German for ‘migration’ and ‘restlessness’. It describes the increased anxiety that animals feel as their urge to migrate builds as day length changes. Which is why I mentioned poetic licence, because I’m not exactly feeling the urge to migrate, I’m not anxious in any way, and it’s barely getting light outside at all at the moment (so more force than licence, perhaps?) - but I am restless.


Jo and I have talked about working together for many years, but somehow life, the universe and everything has always got in the way. Now though the time seems right. We’re ready. Like the planetary conjunction that is happening in the night skies at the moment, we are aligned.


My own version of zugunruhe is outwardly recognisable as ‘being even more fidgety than usual’. For example, I’ve been checking microphones and tripods and batteries so we can start some serious sound recordings. Darting outside when it rains to capture the sounds of water plopping into puddles, dripping from a leaking gutter, drumming off a rain barrel. I remember once being told that early special effects recordists, stuck inside working in sound-proofed studios would substitute the sound of frying food for the sizzle of rain falling. I can hear that now, sheets of water sizzling off the stone steps by our front door.


Now I know that many people really don’t need to hear recordings of rain falling (especially if they live in the UK). But what’s fascinating me, adding to the zugunruhe (because this is really just a test phase before we get things underway for real), is the way the tone of bird song shifts as the weather changes. The Wood Pigeons in the trees at the bottom of the garden became a little more distant, slightly muted but somehow more evocative against the background hiss of rain. The Robin singing his winter song from the back garden gate? You can hear him hunched up against the weather. A little more disgruntled, a little less joyous. The Jackdaws in our chimney – perhaps scuffling about and shoving each other aside to reach the driest spot - sound more quarrelsome than ever.


I may be imagining all of that. But that’s part of zugunruhe as experienced by a blogger at the start of a new project. The sense of anticipation. Of taking that first step. Which – I suppose – is exactly what this short post is. So, let’s get this journey started (as Pink might have said if she had – you know – zugunruhe....)

Common Ground

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© 2021  Jo Hanlon-Moores & Charlie Moores