About The Project

Coigach and Assynt is a land and a people in constant motion.  The voices and experience of its people, sung out through their Music and Tales, paint a great canvas of human experience against a backdrop of rocks as old as the earth itself and a landscape which tells its own dramatic tales of the cycle of life. 


The collective behind ‘Talamh Beò - Emergence’ has collaborated in various artistic relationships over many years. Each member is a world-class exponent of their craft who has an active, lively engagement with the others’ creativity. All based in the West Highlands, they have a unique artistic perspective which embraces a global view informed by an empathy with community and place. They share a passion for creating dynamic, responsive performance works with people at their heart.



‘Talamh Beò’ continued the process of dialogue started in the oral history phase of the ‘Music and Tales’ project, celebrating the rightness of human and land in harmony, creating an understanding of this partnership - rather than either in isolation - being the true living landscape. The piece uses  emergent factors from this process to create a work that truly responds to its environment, celebrates challenge and imagines potential futures.



The Vision

Using a multi-act structure, familiar in musical form and strategic development, ‘Talamh Beò’ explores the two seemingly contradictory paths through human and natural environments. The first is informed by traditional knowledge, wisdom and language; the natural evolution of flora and fauna, and of geological and marine worlds. The second by scientific rationalism which - alien to indigenous wisdom and disregarding its own – created situations of exploitation, cruelty and dispossession which have a left an impact to the present day.



Further conversation in the community; interaction with young and older local musicians, in stand-alone or integral work; found-sound interrogation of the landscape.



Responses to the place in music and language, especially Gaelic, reflecting long-rooted families, new arrivals, invested visitors and workers – and how they feel about the place.  The connection between home and diaspora, using two solo performers throughout; and major historical chapters that have helped form Coigach and Assynt’s story. Above all, letting people’s voices in this big landscape be heard.



Drawing on macro and micro: prehistoric inselbergs above and cavernous vaults below; the dialogue of land and ocean on continental edge;  the evolutionary cycle of flora and fauna; and the impact of natural and human factors on natural resources and ecology.



The climax emerging through the performance uses the existing elements to create a positive vision for the future, setting a challenge to all who are part of Coigach and Assynt to share in a holistic view and caretaking of the place and its people. Inspired especially by Neil Gunn, the vision is founded on the concept of wisdom and knowledge in union enabling the creation of transcendant possibility. 



Complementary audience engagement is offered through interactive Ambient Mixer models (click for example) - an online presence that can be accessed via a desktop mixer or mobile app, consisting of several pre-recorded sound samples that can be mixed via an onscreen console, allowing the user to create their own version of the music and also to upload their own sounds.

The Music


Mary Ann has produced a score in written form (using Sibelius 7.5), using a mix of staff notation and chord charts. Nick also has documented all pre-recorded performance material using vmixl (multi-media performance software).  



STRATEGY STORY is a new an innovative strategic development consultancy based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with a worldwide client base. Run by Prof. Donald MacLean and former BBC producer Kate Hooper, and assisted by a network of partners, Strategy Story brings together the worlds of Strategy and Storytelling to help businesses and communities develop and grow.
For more information on Strategy Story: https://strategystory.co.uk/



Performances will be in full surround sound.



Principal guests, the voices of home and diaspora: James Graham, Lochinver/Glasgow (tenor.    Simon Értz, Scoraig/N. Carolina (viola)*




Session musicians James MacIntosh,Patsy Reid, James Graham and Brian MacAlpine all appeared in the final recording.

Tech Spec

Soundfield SPS200 Ambisonic Microphone Array.Sennheiser MKE 44P Stereo Condenser Microphone Tascam DR70d 4 Track Recorder.Tascam DR100 Mk II Stereo Recorder.H2a-XLR Hydrophone x 4

The Process

Collection of original field recordings and compositional methods to be detailed on the "notebook" part of the website

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The Team

The performative/compositional forces include: .

Mary Ann Kennedy

Lead Composer

Nick Turner

Sound Designer

Finlay Wells


Donald MacLean

Words and Deeds

Coigach & Assynt:A Living Landscape

Project Aims?

Communities and nature, working together

Project Description?

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) is one of the largest landscape-scale restoration projects in Europe, covering 635 square kilometres, included within a 40-year vision. The project area is blessed with some of the most dramatic and instantly recognisable landscapes in the British Isles, and within these some of the rarest and most endangered habitats


The Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme (CALLP) is a five-year National Lottery Heritage Funded project comprising 14 Partner organisations, of which the Scottish Wildlife Trust is the lead partner. CALLP is a mechanism for delivering outputs of the CALL 40-year vision..


The Partnership comprises community land-owners, community interest groups, charitable land-owners, private land-owners and charitable membership organisations. The eclectic group of organisations involved represent and reflect the unique heritage and structure of land ownership and management present in this part of the Highlands.


Collectively, these Partners are committed to delivering a Scheme comprising 28 individual projects between September 2016-2021.


The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme programme identifies nine outcomes which the scheme’s collective projects must achieve:

Heritage is better managed; in better condition and;identified / recorded.

People have developed skills;learnt about heritage and;volunteered time.

Communities have reduced environmental impacts;are more engaged with heritage and;the area will be a better place to work, live and visit.

Contact Us

Our Address

Watercolour Music, Ardgour, Fort William Highland. PH33 7AH

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01855 841320
0791 8618374