Tag: field-recording

Put The Needle On The Record #9 : Nashville : 26092019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

From my sound diary 26092019: Turned up early and got coffee in a diner. The luggage bag recording was of me going to the day room, walking up the hill. I’ve been experimenting with video here and I want people to be able to see the surfaces they are listening to, I think this is best… in some ways it has to be there as a visual thing. The patterns on the road, the objects etc.. and their relationship to the sound and story.. they all relate.

Luggage bag recording: Nashville street 26092019

Arriving and being in a historical place of such ‘traditional’ musical heritage, I made field recordings of the pavement – or ‘sidewalk’ as it is known. Yet in some ways this is the most dynamic form of reportage I could do – to get up close to the material, the story, the real life, as it is now. What is the sound of the street, when you play it like a record? And which musicians have walked these streets I am trawling along now? What state were they in? Where were there careers heading, pulling back from? Nashville is one of the main centres of musical activity and industry in the USA, but also has the most colleges and universities after NYC/Boston, and it is known for its healthcare. What characters have walked these streets in the past? Students, academics, vagrants… How has Nashville and its network of streets been shaped – if at all – by its own musical history and musical ‘legend’ (and legends)? If anything ‘Nashville’, and the idea of a music city lives above the streets as a romantic idea, not on them. What lies on the streets is more the truth of the matter: pavement forms created by municipal protocols and economic constraints; impacted with social and societal encounters leaving traces such as dried bubble gum, spilt drinks of various consistencies, litter, scratches, dents… devastation and entropy lie waiting on the outskirts of what is clear to see..

Outside the venue, the streets look fairly normal. But I wonder what dramas have taken place here? At what times?
Facing the direction of the gear being loaded in.
The legend of Nashville is ‘above’ rather than ‘on’ the streets…

May 14th

Somewhere near a field in Oxfordshire

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to weather they came to my ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue.

Marcel Proust The Captive (1925)

Leaning out of an upstairs window I can hear the sound of hedgerow birds, chickens running in one of the nearby gardens; a football bouncing on a paving slab and then being kicked into the shrubbery; a lone car heading West on the A4130 sounding the asphalt; a Red Kite circling overhead. I lean out further, listening into the distance, into the future, waiting for the tide of mechanised sound to return, for the drone of tyres on asphalt, not the phasing passage of a single car, but the sweeping tide of traffic sound flooding across fields, down lanes, through dense woodland. Perhaps it is still here, cars pass in groups, the air vibrates, the X2 pauses at the bus stop. Covid 19 has transformed our sounding environment, but how much is that transformation felt in any one place, in a place on the periphery of the situation? Can I hear it from my window? Is it evident in my everyday? And when will the tide of sound turn? and when it does turn how will we feel about it? As the air begins to vibrate with the phasing of distant jets will we want to step back or will we embrace the return to the normative sounding of the world? The soundscape is ambivalent. It represents the reduction of pollutants in the atmosphere but also signals the absence of loved ones. The temporary absence of friends but also the permanent absence of those who have lost their lives. This is a soundscape of hope and a soundscape of loss. It is a soundscape of a brighter future, one where listening to the world is part of the decision-making process we undertake when we chose to travel or not to travel; but it is also a soundscape of a brighter past, a past where now lost loved ones were still with us, where we could hear the sounds of their voices vibrating in the air and not just in memory.

I made this recording on Thursday 14th May:

14052020

Distal Bodies 51.5dBSPL (LAeq)

Woodcote Village Green

Location: Village Green, Woodcote, Oxfordshire, UK

Date: 13th May 2020

Time: 08:58 – 09:13

Weather: Sunny patches, light cloud with a gentle breeze

Temperature: 8oC

Average Sound Level: 51.5dBSPL (LAeq)

The roads that circumvent the village green seem a little busier today. A solitary light aircraft, its engine sound falling through the sky, fading into the distance, prompts me to recall the sounds that are absent. The commotion of young children clambering and shouting exuberantly in the playpark and school playground, tapping of hard-soled shoes, balls and skipping ropes begrudgingly halted by the bell, teenage chit-chat cutting diagonally through the outfield, the calls and whistles of dog walkers, toddlers crying in push-chairs, parent’s conversations interjected with sharp calls maintaining order. All these sounds playing in my mind are separated by the attention I give them. Yet, they are simultaneously underpinned and buttressed by the growls of combustion engines idling, parking, circling around the car park’s one way system, horns and frustrated bellowing from car windows congesting the air along the Reading Road. In the skies above the green, civil aircraft roar in waves, undetected amongst the distractions of daily life, Chinooks from RAF Benson cut the air into segments, occasional light aircraft from the aerodrome, dive, circle and silently eject parachutists from their fuselage.

The clarity of the blackbird’s song and the lulling psithurism above, returns me to movement and the vibrations of mechanical waves. Much is absent from the soundscape of a typical Wednesday morning and then the quiet asks: ‘what is it that I miss?’

Woodcote Village Green

May 2nd

Somewhere near a field in Oxfordshire

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to weather they came to my ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue.

Marcel Proust The Captive (1925)

Leaning out of an upstairs window I can hear the sound of hedgerow birds, chickens running in one of the nearby gardens; a football bouncing on a paving slab and then being kicked into the shrubbery; a lone car heading West on the A4130 sounding the asphalt; a Red Kite circling overhead. I lean out further, listening into the distance, into the future, waiting for the tide of mechanised sound to return, for the drone of tyres on asphalt, not the phasing passage of a single car, but the sweeping tide of traffic sound flooding across fields, down lanes, through dense woodland. Perhaps it is still here, cars pass in groups, the air vibrates, the X2 pauses at the bus stop. Covid 19 has transformed our sounding environment, but how much is that transformation felt in any one place, in a place on the periphery of the situation? Can I hear it from my window? Is it evident in my everyday? And when will the tide of sound turn? and when it does turn how will we feel about it? As the air begins to vibrate with the phasing of distant jets will we want to step back or will we embrace the return to the normative sounding of the world? The soundscape is ambivalent. It represents the reduction of pollutants in the atmosphere but also signals the absence of loved ones. The temporary absence of friends but also the permanent absence of those who have lost their lives. This is a soundscape of hope and a soundscape of loss. It is a soundscape of a brighter future, one where listening to the world is part of the decision-making process we undertake when we chose to travel or not to travel; but it is also a soundscape of a brighter past, a past where now lost loved ones were still with us, where we could hear the sounds of their voices vibrating in the air and not just in memory.

I made this recording on Saturday 2nd May:

02052020

April 30th

Somewhere near a field in Oxfordshire

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to weather they came to my ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue.

Marcel Proust The Captive (1925)

Leaning out of an upstairs window I can hear the sound of hedgerow birds, chickens running in one of the nearby gardens; a football bouncing on a paving slab and then being kicked into the shrubbery; a lone car heading West on the A4130 sounding the asphalt; a Red Kite circling overhead. I lean out further, listening into the distance, into the future, waiting for the tide of mechanised sound to return, for the drone of tyres on asphalt, not the phasing passage of a single car, but the sweeping tide of traffic sound flooding across fields, down lanes, through dense woodland. Perhaps it is still here, cars pass in groups, the air vibrates, the X2 pauses at the bus stop. Covid 19 has transformed our sounding environment, but how much is that transformation felt in any one place, in a place on the periphery of the situation? Can I hear it from my window? Is it evident in my everyday? And when will the tide of sound turn? and when it does turn how will we feel about it? As the air begins to vibrate with the phasing of distant jets will we want to step back or will we embrace the return to the normative sounding of the world? The soundscape is ambivalent. It represents the reduction of pollutants in the atmosphere but also signals the absence of loved ones. The temporary absence of friends but also the permanent absence of those who have lost their lives. This is a soundscape of hope and a soundscape of loss. It is a soundscape of a brighter future, one where listening to the world is part of the decision-making process we undertake when we chose to travel or not to travel; but it is also a soundscape of a brighter past, a past where now lost loved ones were still with us, where we could hear the sounds of their voices vibrating in the air and not just in memory.

I made this recording on Thursday 30th April:

30042020

24th April

Somewhere near a field in Oxfordshire

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to weather they came to my ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue.

Marcel Proust The Captive (1925)

Leaning out of an upstairs window I can hear the sound of hedgerow birds, chickens running in one of the nearby gardens; a football bouncing on a paving slab and then being kicked into the shrubbery; a lone car heading West on the A4130 sounding the asphalt; a Red Kite circling overhead. I lean out further, listening into the distance, into the future, waiting for the tide of mechanised sound to return, for the drone of tyres on asphalt, not the phasing passage of a single car, but the sweeping tide of traffic sound flooding across fields, down lanes, through dense woodland. Perhaps it is still here, cars pass in groups, the air vibrates, the X2 pauses at the bus stop. Covid 19 has transformed our sounding environment, but how much is that transformation felt in any one place, in a place on the periphery of the situation? Can I hear it from my window? Is it evident in my everyday? And when will the tide of sound turn? and when it does turn how will we feel about it? As the air begins to vibrate with the phasing of distant jets will we want to step back or will we embrace the return to the normative sounding of the world? The soundscape is ambivalent. It represents the reduction of pollutants in the atmosphere but also signals the absence of loved ones. The temporary absence of friends but also the permanent absence of those who have lost their lives. This is a soundscape of hope and a soundscape of loss. It is a soundscape of a brighter future, one where listening to the world is part of the decision-making process we undertake when we chose to travel or not to travel; but it is also a soundscape of a brighter past, a past where now lost loved ones were still with us, where we could hear the sounds of their voices vibrating in the air and not just in memory.

I made this recording on Friday 24th April:

24042020

Beth Shearsby

Outside working on laptop
Evening TV On
Dawn Chorus
Car Conversations
Bus

Extract Beth’s work (below) featured in Recording Life In Sound (SARU 2019).

Beth Shearsby is an experimental artist based in Oxfordshire. Her current work heavily explores a combination of caustic + ambient noise. Using synthesisers, tape loops, D.I.Y circuits + other materials during improvised live performance. She is also an active member of creative educational charity Young Women’s Music Project, which supports women in music through workshops, talks, festivals + more.

Bethshearsby.com

Instagram:@bethshearsby

Richard Bentley

Sweep
Sweep (stereo Contacts)


Sweep
3.15pm 25th April 2019
 
This transcription of sweeping was made at the beginning of the project and captures something of the interplay of sound and ‘thought-sound’ typical of my sweeping practice.
 
Underlying the internal monologue (in italics) and the more transitory sounds transcribed (in parentheses), is the sound of the bristles on laminate floor, the occasional knock of the broom against the skirting boards and the squeaking of its plastic handle. The low humming, whirring, clunking and squealing of the washing machine in the kitchen, is heard at first from the hallway then louder as I enter the dining room and kitchen. Its sound appears and disappears from the soundscape as it progresses through its washing cycle.
 
Sound of the sweeping
Brushes
Not much dust
It’s where I hoovered
 
What’s that on the floor?
Umm, lots of cat hair.
(Broom knocks into microphone stand leaning against the wall under the stairs)
Oops. Don’t want to knock that over.
 
This floor hasn’t been swept for a while.
 
(cough)
 
Just noticing how bent my back is.
Lots of cat hair. It’s very difficult to sweep.
 
Brush the door off.
 
Cat hair gets stuck to the bottom of the broom and drifts around in the air currents.
 
Just remembering the tea leaves I spilt from the caddy on my way out, as I sweep them up.
Is that a finger nail? Hmm.
 
I put the washing machine on, it’s always whirring.
 
(Broom knocks into the underside of the unit)
Umm, difficult to get underneath…some of the units.
 
Umm, there’s a hair pin. Should I pick it up? Should do really.
 
Oh…a spider? Nah.
 
(washing machine starts up again)
Washing machine again.
I’ll close the door to stop the draft coming through.
 
(loud clanking sound of door shutting and reverberating around the kitchen-come-dining room.)
 
Oh, gotta move this heavy chair.
 
(The broom handle bounces on the wall as it is leant against it. Loud, scrape of heavy chair being dragged along the oak-effect vinyl flooring)
Wow, loads of cat hair under there. Some stuck to the bottom of the chair leg.
 
Kids will be home from school soon.
Try and get this done before they get home, it’s just easier.
 
Gonna have to stop and take all of this cat hair off.
(brushing halts and is closely followed by sound of rustling, picking-off matted cat-hair from the bristles)
 
This floor’s done well. Karndean I think it’s called.
Expensive, but it’s done a good job.
 
Oh. Someone has left some shiny old paper under the unit.
It’s probably one of the kids.
I don’t think Sarah uses those.
 
Oh, a dandelion.
From Sarah’s lino cut.
 
What will I find under here?
Oop, I don’t know, but I can’t move it.
Oh, I think it’s the table cloth, cover.
 
Wow, there’s a lot of rubbish, a lot of dirt and dust today.
 
Oh, my back hurts.
 
Probably why the bottom of my socks are a mess.
I think Zen monks have special slippers they wear.
 
I wonder if they stop the dirt sticking to the bottom?
That’d be helpful.
 
Thinking about the project. (wondering how accurately I can capture my thoughts by speaking them)
 
There’s all sorts of hair, and dirt, underneath the radiator.
(sound of drilling noticeable in the distance)
 
I wonder if the speed at which I do this and the very methodical approach is something I’ve learnt from being at home, my mum doing that. Very methodical.
 
(stop to clear-off hair stuck to the brush)
Someone is doing some sawing or drilling outside.
 
Oh, forgot to pick up the cat food and water. Oh what a mess! Eat pretty messily these cats.
The thing with wearing these binaural microphones is that the cable gets in the way. I should have really tucked it in to my t-shirt… put it underneath.
I wonder if the recording level’s OK?
(washing machine starts up again)
There’s a lot of washing in there.
 
(Sound of drilling in the distance, noticeable when the washing machine stops)
That drilling again. I wonder what’s going on?
Swishing again. Quite a nice sound. Gentle. It has a softness about it.
 
(Broom knocks against the skirting under the kitchen units)
Is there a rubber part on the end of this broom? Sounds like it.
Haven’t done this for a long time.
It’s uh, really, really dirty. I suppose it was the Easter holidays.
I’ll have to clean that skirting or whatever they call it, under the units.
It’s always messy… where we prepare the food.
 
Better not tread in the pile I’ve just swept up.
Bran Flakes. Gor’, there’s all sorts in here.
 
What time is it. Half-past three. Kids’ll be home in ten minutes.
Must remember Phoebe’s appointment for parents evening.
 
Right, now can I put this in the compost bin? Yeah, I think it’s…. it’s all…
Cat hair and dust and food – it’s all organic.
(Sweeping pile of dirt into the dustpan. Rustle of a piece of plastic wrapper pulled from the dirt)
I’ll take that plastic bit out.
(Sound of emptying the dustpan into the compost bin)
The compost bin lid’s broken.
Phew, I’m done. Bit of a pain in my back after doing that.
Wash my hands I think.
(Sound of running water, depressing the hand-soap pump, squelching of lathering soap, rinsing hands under tap. It stops, exposing the whirr of the washing machine again)
 
Right! Put the chairs back. Think we’re done.
 

Extract from Sweep (below) featured in Recording Life In Sound (SARU 2019).

Richard Bentley is a musician and sound artist whose work explores the relationship between listening; quiet and stillness; field recording; listening exercises; prose composition and other contemplative arts practices. He is a practice-based researcher with the Sonic Art Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. His current work includes a CoCreation community engagement secondment with European Alternatives in Paris and a four-month long project ‘Small Silence’ which explores the value of quiet spaces to local people in Reading, UK. Richard releases music on the Buried Treasure record label and has developed bespoke audio products for clients such as The Woodland Trust, Crisis, Intelligent Health, The Roald Dahl Museum, Nature Nurture and a host of community arts organisations. Richard is also an Associate Artist with the Jelly arts organisation based in Reading and Associate Lecturer in audio production at both Oxford Brookes and the University of West London.

February 27th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 27th has arrived, the unspectacular is here for the penultimate time. There’s sweeping, piano practice, the television – standard.

(February 27th 2019 piano practice, sweeping, the usual)

February 24th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 24th is here and nothing’s happening except the dishwasher, emptying the food waste, switching lights on and off.

(February 24th 2019 switching lights on and off)