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Away With The Birds

Note: Away with the Birds contains audio throughout, you may want to listen through headphones.

The site is optimised for use on a tablet or computer. If you do choose to access it on a mobile phone, we suggest you select landscape format.

the Space Creative Scotland Suzy Glass Isle of Canna Community Development Trust Cape Farewell PRSF

This is an interactive version of Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds, a project that explores the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song and the sensitive ecologies of the islands and highlands of Scotland. At its heart is a fifty minute composition in five movements, written for an ensemble of ten female vocalists. It is an extended soundscape in which Tuulikki weaves together fragments from nine Gaelic songs and five poems.

Once you enter the project you can explore two hours of film, half an hour of music, over two hours of commentary, field recordings of over twenty birds, fifteen new drawings and audio recordings of nine Gaelic songs and five poems. You can share all of this content.

Away with the Birds contains audio throughout. We recommend listening through decent quality speakers or headphones.

The site is optimised for use on a tablet or computer. We do not recommend viewing it on a mobile phone. If you do choose to access it on a mobile, we suggest you select landscape format. 


Use the zoom button positioned at the bottom right of the score to zoom in and out.


There are ten Song hotspots embedded within the score and five Habitat hotspots accompanying the titles of each movement. Tap or click on them to find out more about Tuulikki’s composition.

Habitat Hotspot Controller

Choose Commentary to hear the artist talk about the environments and bird behaviours that the movement refers to.

Choose Music to hear compiled extracts from a new studio recording of the composition, introduced by a prelude of birdsong..

Choose Film to watch each movement performed live on the Isle of Canna in the summer of 2014.

The play, forward and rewind buttons allow you to pause, fast forward and rewind any of the audio in 10 second intervals.

Song Hotspot Controller

Choose Commentary to hear the artist talk about the source material, including its relationship to the birds evoked and their cultural significance and symbolism.

Choose Song to listen to an original recording of the song performed by a Gaelic tradition bearer.

Choose Film to watch a short extract from the film of the performances on Canna in the summer of 2014, revealing how each song is used within the composition.

Field Recording

Choose any of the bird buttons at the bottom of all hotspot windows to listen.


The Score button in the top right hand corner of the interface contains a grid reference, helping you to orientate yourself as you scroll around. Tap or click on the button to see how Tuulikki has used the fragments of Gaelic songs in her composition.

Fragments Controller

When you tap or click on the Score button you will see this controller. It allows you to select each of the Gaelic songs Tuulikki has woven into her composition. Tap or click on a song title and you will highlight all the places where fragments from that piece of source material are used.


Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin | Away with the Birds is a project that explores the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song.

Commissioned as one of the closing events of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, it was first performed in the dramatic setting of Canna’s historic harbour. The music responds to the island’s topography, the co-existence of tradition and innovation, and the delicate equilibrium of Hebridean life.

The music weaves together fragments of songs and poems that are imitative of birdsong. Over five movements it guides us through communities of waders, seabirds, wildfowl and corvids, evoking sea, shoreline, cliffs, moor and woodland habitats. The ensemble sing the sea and the winds. They sing the motion of birds – wading on the shoreline, swooping before the cliffs, and beating skeins.

As the music ebbs and flows, they call to mind the eco-tones where species meet. Listening to this musical portrait of the inter-relationship between bird and human, we recognise a lineage that stretches back to early hunter-gatherer cultures for whom bird-calls and animal cries had magico-religious symbolism – like the splay-toed fowlers who scaled the cliffs of St Kilda.

In this new version of Air falbh leis na h-eòin you become the navigator, steering your own way through Tuulikki's score. Within its expansive sweep, sound, music, and movement are translated into gesture and precise notation. Words and vocables – sounds without meaning – represent the shapes of individual birds, flocks, skeins, waves and islands, as well as more abstracted forms, suggestive of motion or topography.

You can explore the entire composition in your own time, taking your own course. You can experience the texture of ecology, survey landscape and seascape, immerse yourself in the film, and read detailed notes on the source songs, poems, and birds. This is a prismatic experience that tunes us into a sonic continuum that reaches into the “more-than-human” world.

You can find out more about the project here.
You can find us on Facebook here.

We will be releasing an album version of Away with the Birds towards the end of 2015, alongside a limited edition print series of the drawings. If you would like to stay in touch with news about the project, please sign up to receive our newsletter.

If you want to get in touch with us you can email projects@suzyglass.co.uk.

Hanna Tuulikki’s practice crosses over a range of visual and sound-based forms. She works primarily with the voice to compose ethereal spaces in sound, unearthing the lore of places. Within her performance she makes use of sculptural objects and stagings, often within an outdoor setting.



Composer & Artist

Hanna Tuulikki


Suzy Glass


Studio Rydo


Nat Buckley

Vocal Ensemble

Anna Sheard, Hanna Tuulikki, Judith Williams, Kim Carnie, Kirsty Law, Lucy Duncombe, Megan Henderson, Mischa Macpherson, Nerea Bello, Nichola Scrutton

Performance Director

Nic Green

Field Recordist

Geoff Sample


Daniel Warren

Costume Designer

Deirdre Nelson

Audio Mix / Sound Engineer

Iain Thomson


Alex Boyd

Studio Recording


Assistant Producer

Emmie McKay

Studio Assistant

Amy Porteous

Song & Poem Translator

David Wheatley

Score Transcription and Commentaries Editor

Alec Finlay

Archive Recordings

Mise nighean Aiodh ‘ic Eoghain and An Cuala Sibh Mun Mhaighdean Cheutach from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folk Life Centre, Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Cainnt nan Eun from Tobar an Dualchais & the National Trust for Scotland. All other archive recordings from the School of Scottish Studies.

Bird Descriptions

From the RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe.

With thanks to the Isle of Canna, Nick Millar, Lucy Conway, John Fanshaw, Michael Newton, Myles Caimbeul, Joy Dunlop, Mairi Morrison, Mary Smith and Ruth Little for their time and expertise.


The Space

The Space is a unique commissioning and development programme supporting greater digital access to the arts. Established by the BBC and Arts Council England, The Space Community Interest Company is the key strategic delivery body for The Space programme, created to serve the interests of artists and audiences.

Away with the Birds is commissioned by The Space with support from Creative Scotland.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits there.


This is a digital interactive reinterpretation of an original performance commissioned as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

Isle of Canna Community Development Trust

The Isle of Canna is part of the Small Isles off the west coast of Scotland. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust's vision is for an Island suitable for demographic growth, supported by good employment opportunities, good services and facilities and affordable housing. It is a major initiative set up by the islanders to provide the mechanism for future economic growth in tandem with the conservation and preservation of the islands environment.

The live version of Away with the Birds was developed with support from the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust. It was performed in the historic harbour of the island in August 2014 as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell’s Sea Change (Tionndadh na Mara in Gaelic) is a four-year programme of research and making across Scotland’s western and northern isles. The Sea Change project aims to encourage knowledge exchange, celebrating grassroots and national initiatives which combine local knowledge and resources with advanced technologies and pioneering research into social and ecological resilience.

Cape Farewell has supported the development of the Away with the Birds project over the past four years.

PRS for Music Foundation

PRSF are the UK's leading funder of new music across all genres.

Their mission is to stimulate and support the creation and performance of new music throughout the UK and to ensure that this music is enjoyed by a wide audience.

PRSF supported the composition of Away with the Birds through their Women Make Music scheme.