My Inspiration: Martin Francis Trollope – Herring and Gulls | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On Monday October 25th South Shields based songwriter, Martin Francis Trollope, releases his new single, ‘Herring and Gulls’.

The song was written as an entry into the Berwick New Music International Composition Competition (, with the theme given as ‘North’. The final of the competition takes place at Berwick Watchtower on October 24th, with five other finalists nominated from the entries. Herring and Gulls will be premiered at the event, and then released digitally a day later, to all major streaming sites.

Here, Martin tells us what inspired the track…

Herring and Gulls began its existence as a drone created from the frequencies 90hz and 135hz, chosen because they are the coordinates of the North Pole (90.0000° N, 135.0000° W). This, fairly arbitrarily, led to a key and gave me two options for a tempo.

The slower option felt more ‘North’ somehow. More laidback. Slow moving like the North Sea on a calm day. I did put an arpeggiator running at 135bpm throughout the piece too though, just to make sure both coordinates were there.

I’d taken some field recordings of some of my favourite coastal and riverside locations in the town that I’ve always lived in (South Shields), so I dropped them on top of the drone and the arpeggiator loop to see what happened. The rolling waves and bird sounds led me to the piano motif and the synth pad which began to dictate the structure of the piece. Vocals, drums and guitars quickly followed.

Lyrically and melodically, Herring and Gulls was entirely improvised in a couple of vocal takes, eyes closed and listening closely to the soundscape I had created. It appears to be a song about accepting a certain hardship to benefit the wider community.

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