Skip to product information
1 of 0

The Foghorn's Lament

The Disappearing Music of the Coast
  • Author
    • Jennifer Lucy Allan
Regular price £9.99
Regular price Sale price £9.99

Not available for shipping to the following countries:

  • ASM
  • CAN
  • GUM
  • MNP
  • UMI
  • PHL
  • PRI
  • USA
  • VIR
'A truly unusual and strangely revealing lens through which to view music and history and the dark life of the sea' Brian Eno

'As memorable, pleasurable and irrational as all the highest quests' John Higgs

'A perfect example of the power and beauty of industrial music' Cosey Fanni Tutti

What does the foghorn sound like?

It sounds huge. It rattles. It rattles you. It is a booming, lonely sound echoing into the vastness of the sea. When Jennifer Lucy Allan hears the foghorn's colossal bellow for the first time, it marks the beginning of an obsession and a journey deep into the history of a sound that has carved out the identity and the landscape of coastlines around the world, from Scotland to San Francisco.

Within its sound is a maritime history of shipwrecks and lighthouse keepers, the story and science of our industrial past, and urban myths relaying tales of foghorns in speaker stacks, blasting out for coastal raves.

An odyssey told through the people who battled the sea and the sound, who lived with it and loathed it, and one woman's intrepid voyage through the howling loneliness of nature.
  • Published: Apr 28 2022
  • Pages: 304
  • 198 x 128mm
  • ISBN: 9781474615044
View full details

Press Reviews


    A truly unusual and strangely revealing lens through which to view music and history and the dark life of the sea

    The Foghorn's Lament is as memorable, pleasurable and irrational as all the highest quests. It's a deep, landscape defying blast of love and enthusiasm for place, emotion and the very human mystery that connects them both

    A wonderful way to get up close and very personal with the foghorn - a perfect example of the power and beauty of industrial music

    Few people now can remember the sound of the old booming foghorns that have been mostly replaced by what Jennifer Lucy Allan calls mewing beeps, but this very affecting book can truly conjure those long-gone sounds of foggy seascapes, and the romance of the giant trumpets that are now just rusting relics of a time gone by. Her heartfelt descriptions of that lonely bellow, along with the history and the human stories, has had me listening to all the music in the air of the outside world, more than I ever have done before

    Original and absorbing. . . this kind of obsession is transporting, there is escape to be found in getting lost in a subject. The book is a lament for a disappearing way of life - numbers of former lighthouse keepers diminish each year - but also an appeal to listen deeply. It shows how there can be "a whole world to discover in just one sound"

    In writing that is both lyrical and precise Jennifer Lucy Allan maps the mysterious space where legend, technology, maritime history and pop culture meet. A book as layered and rich as that lonely sound

    You can taste the sea salt reading this

    Now that so many things can be - and are - recorded, I had forgotten that sound could also become extinct. The massive melancholic sound of the foghorn - the sound of safety and loss - is one of these and this colorful and detailed requiem tells the many interlocking stories of people who love it and try to preserve it. This has become one of my favorite books
  • The Sunday Post
    Alluring, haunting... [The Foghorn's Lament] examines the music, history and the dark life of the sea through the foghorn, a nostalgic link to our industrial past.
    It all coalesces to form a wonderfully original maritime journey that's both a contemplation on Britain's wildest coastal reaches and a reminder of how deeply sound and imagination shape our sense of place.
  • Caught By the River, Book of the Month
    A fabulous book about a unique sound, and a valuable addition to the literature that seeks to explain the function and meaning of sound in all our lives.