Coho Crossing

Coho Crossing

Coho Crossing is a 57:00 sonic narrative of a journey across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Canada and the United States, aboard the ferry M/V Coho. Using multiple field recordings, the work weaves sounds heard during a crossing into a multilayered composition.


Framework framework:afield #711
Juried broadcast, international
Framework Radio
Põlgaste, Estonia
26 April - 2 May 2020
Curated by international sound, performance, and radio artist Patrick McGinley (aka murmer).

Framework Radio focuses on field recording of sonic sources and their use in compositions. Featuring juried work by international sound artists, Framework Radio's goal is to present not only the extremely diverse sound environments of our world, but also the extremely diverse work that is being produced by the artists who choose to use these environments as their sonic sources. The research and creative question behind Framework Radio programming asks, "Is field recording a style or genre, or rather an uncontrollable and undefinable tool as any, that may be interpreted, manipulated, and appropriated by anyone with a microphone and idea?" Works produced in response to this question are the answer, the definition, not vice versa. Based in Põlgaste, Põlva County, in southeast Estonia, Framework Radio began broadcasting in June 2002 on Resonance 104.4 FM in London. Episodes are now broadcast on radio stations around the world.


I created and submitted Coho Crossing as an episode of Framework Radio, an international showcase of field recording, phonography, and sound hunting, curated by international sound, performance, and radio artist Patrick McGinley (aka murmer). Coho Crossing and several other works of mine have been featured on Framework Radio.
#711 Coho Crossing, 26 April - 2 May 2020
#658 Rainstorm Reveries, 21-27 October 2018
#623 In Progress, 17 December 2017 - 13 January 2018
#583 Transect: London, 29 January 2016 - 4 February 2017
#542 Water, Waves, Dreams, 31 January - 6 February 2016
#433 Between Sleep and Dreams, 9-15 September 2013
#405 Ambient Pulsations, 6 February - 6 March 2013
#389 Tell Me A Story about Meditation, 23-30 September 2012
#386 Meditation, 2-8 September 2012
#381 Contact, 12-14 July 2012


Object: Audio
Format: mp3
Bit Rate: 356kbs
Duration: 57:00
Created: 2020
Creator: John F. Barber
Image: "Endurance Crater," taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, 2008

Artist Statement

M/V Coho is a passenger and vehicle ferry owned and operated by Black Ball Line. The Coho, named for the coho salmon commonly found in the Pacific Northwest waters, provides ferry service between Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and Port Angeles, Washington, United States. Carrying 110 vehicles and up to 1,000 passengers, Coho makes from two to four daily crossings of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Each crossing takes about 90 minutes to cover the 37 kilometers, or 20 nautical miles.

At an average speed of 28 kilometers or 17 miles per hour, each Coho crossing is leisurely, and filled with interesting sounds. This field recording composition, Coho Crossing, weaves sounds heard while making a crossing into a sonic narrative.

First, we leave home, bound for the ferry terminal where we will take the first morning crossing. The Coho has not yet arrived so we wait, the early morning silence interrupted as float planes arrive and depart their terminal across the inner harbor. Other passengers arrive, some on foot, some in vehicles. Soft conversations are heard among those waiting. The Coho arrives in the background, almost silently. A border agent checks passports. Incoming vehicles depart the Coho. Outgoing vehicles take their places. Passengers board and mill about the decks. The engines shudder to life, felt more than heard. Cables strain as the Coho maneuvers away from the dock, turns about in the harbor, and heads out to sea.

At sea there are many sounds to explore. The wash heard from the stern deck. Sounds from the engine room heard through air vents. The recorded safety message featuring singer Bing Crosby. Passenger conversations, ambient sounds, a cappella singing in the ships' metal staircases.

Arriving at its destination, the Coho shudders and reverberates as its engines reverse for maneuvering to the dock. The large doors open, and vehicles exit.