islas resonantes

Paisajes sonoros de las Islas Canarias
Soundscapes of Canary Islands


  “Una Hora”


The longitudes
The longitudes

The radio phonic work ”una hora” deals with the change of time consciousness and the cultural effects in the society, hereby caused.

The meridian – midday line – connects all places on the map, which have noon at the same time. Till the end of the 19th century the Zero Line of Longitude of the earth ran near the Orchilla lighthouse, which lies on the Canary island El Hierro and which forms the most southern point of Europe.

Orchilla lighthouse
Orchilla lighthouse

Worldwide all ships used this point for orientation and to specify their co-ordinates. For sailors, El Hierro therefore was not an unknown island, but an important interface, which at that time connected Europe with the imaginary world.

El Hierro Prime Meridian
El Hierro Prime Meridian

In 1884 the Orchilla time was changed into the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in England. The Zero Line of Longitude ran and runs through “the primary transit” instrument (main telescope) at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (near London).
From here there are 180 meridians in eastern and western direction, which run parallel to the Zero Line of Longitude and 90 latitudes in the south and the north, which run parallel to the equator.

The calibration and measuring point were thus shifted from the southern point of Europe, El Hierro, to England. The hegemony of England, which at that time governed the world market by ship and expanded its Commonwealth untiringly, was thus emphasised.

Main play:
“una hora” draws a three-way dramatic tension arc:

1. Following the book ”The Island of the day before” by Umberto Ecco stories are told of Roberto de la Grive and Padre Caspar Wanderdrossel. The shipwrecked and abandoned Roberto wants to solve the secret of the noises aboard, and behind the summerhouse of the birds he discovers a chamber full of clocks. His part is not shown with texts, but is characterised with sounds. Ecco describes Padre Caspar Wanderdrossel as a well-educated practical man who wants to solve the longitude problem. In ”una hora” he is the explorer, who wants to understand the change of time and its effects.

2. Based on the original proceedings a reporter describes the occurrences during the „Prime Meridian Conference“ held in Washington DC in 1884. Here the decision was made to move the Zero Meridian from El Hierro to Greenwich. Important are the comments made by the French delegates Mr. A. Lefaivre and Mr. P. Janssen, who opposed this decision.

Link: 1884 Meridian Conference, Washington DC

3. On El Hierro, Luis Espinosa Krawany interviews the historian Baudilio Domingo Navarra Quintero about the change of the prime meridian.

Some of the sounds, heard in the background, are recorded on El Hierro, like the high flute tones of the common kestrel, the gecko and the volcanic pipes near the village Echedo.

Volcanic pipes (bufadero)

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You also hear three drum players. These specific drums are the original instruments used at festivals on El Hierro. The drum players play in front of the 8 kilometre long wall, the „Risco de Tibataje“. The rhythms are derived from the ancient Bajada melody, which can be heard on El Hierro every four years.

El Hierro drums
El Hierro drums

Link: Bajada melody



The three dramatic tension arcs are intertwined with one another. The sounds of the lighthouse and the “Tibataje rhythms” connect the parts.

Score sketch “una hora”

verlauf partitur una hora


“Una hora” mediates time in the flow of events of past and present.

“Una hora” is mainly conceived in Spanish.

“Una hora” is a format 5.1 composed concert. For the radio broadcast a stereophonic version will be provided.

“Una hora” is a radio phonic composition, which represents the historical perspectives as well as their interpretation in music and documentary (interviews).

“Una hora” is a question and answer game in which the three drums respond to their own echoes.

“Una hora” has 18 text parts and at the end falls into 18 pieces. El Hierro lost 18 longitudes.



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