Long before working on the award winning Of Shark And Man, David Lawrie's first audio commission for a visual medium was Tortoise In A Nutshell's award winning theatre production, The Last Miner. The puppet show, with only a man and his canary as its cast, needed a truly immersive pre-recorded sound design and score, in order to heighten the array of emotions felt by the protagonist. The company's composer, J Harbourne, worked with David to re-arrange and record the score, as well as to create a continuous sound design for the entire performance.
The premise for the sound design of The Last Miner was clear from the beginning. The entire performance was to take place inside an abandoned mine, where one miner had chosen to live, long after everyone else had left. All of the items on set would serve as triggers for the miner's memories of life before the mine closure. The main ambience of the mine needed be present throughout the entire performance, so that when the memories had faded, the isolation and loneliness would be brought straight back to the audience.
With a combination of location recordings, studio based foley, and creative sound design, a whole world was constructed. The final elements were then triggered at various points throughout the live show by J Harbourne.
MUSICAL ARRANGEMENT / MUSIC PRODUCTION
J Harbourne had worked with David on various projects, prior to The Last Miner. This knowledge of each other's workflows meant that the musical elements brought by Harbourne to the table were quickly produced into recorded works. Harbourne had created comprehensive demos of the arrangements he envisioned for the project, and there were only a few suggested changes in the final production. The recordings were captured in various locations, with all of the instruments being performed by Harbourne and Lawrie.
The mixes for the music and sound design were completed in largely the same way as a film's score and sound design would be mixed, however, the final elements were left separated for triggering in a live software audio workstation. This meant that there was a certain level in flexibility at each new performance venue, with regards to the timings of each trigger point.
Tortoise In A Nutshell were widely applauded for their residency at the Edinburgh Fringe, with their performance of The Last Miner. The production was nominated for the Arches Brick Award, and it subsequently toured the UK and Europe.