Soundscape – New Final Version

This is my final soundscape. I made some changes to the eighth draft to better reflect my ideas. I tightened up a few of the timings and made some adjustments to some of the bird sounds so they are more clear. Then I decided to try adding some effects to the bird noises as well – I added some random delay pattens and some reverb to them. This combined with the EQ I had already applied created some interesting effects over the traffic noise.

The traffic noise gradually gets more and more distorted and the bird song becomes more and more effected also and then when the traffic noise is taken away, a strange sound emerges which is almost bird song but not as we would recognise it. I think this makes a statement about how the traffic noise is affecting our perception of other sounds.

I am more pleased with this version as I think it reflects my research better, and combines several differing approaches, including the more ‘truthful’ representation of a space, combined with the manipulation of sounds, not dissimilar to Lopez’s work. Throughout this process I have enjoyed trialling different ideas and creating new drafts of the soundscape.

Soundscape (Seventh Draft)

This is my seventh draft of the soundscape and it it a direct response to the feedback that the beginning half was quite homogenous. While I was at home, I made some more recordings of Paradise Lane, and have blended them in with my original. There are now lots of bird sounds present at the beginning, and although the traffic noise is still the most prominent, it is less so, and to me, it sounds like the birds are trying to sing louder than the traffic, which I quite like.

Soundscape (Sixth Draft)

In this version of the soundscape, I’ve re-worked it to include less of the traffic noise, cutting about 1 minute and 45 seconds off the length. Personally, as I suggested in my post about this idea, I don’t think this is a good idea. It was not a very satisfying way of solving the problem and I don’t think the issue was so bad that it needed completely removing from the track. This will not be my final piece.

Soundscape (Fifth Draft)

Following my feedback, I have spent the last few weeks thinking about and testing out some ideas (see previous posts).

This is my latest draft:

The main thing that has been changed here is the manipulation of the traffic noise through filters, distortion and Logic’s Ringshifter. This allows the traffic sound to get more and more intense, while creating more interest to the sound, before cutting off completely for the second half of my soundscape.

This makes the point that the traffic noise in Paradise Lane is quite severe, particularly as now, the listener will struggle greatly to pick out the bird sounds in the piece.

Final Reflections (9th November)

I am surprised how much the work has interested me, and I think it really helped to throw myself in at the deep end with attending Chris Watson’s soundscape performance at the beginning of the year. Doing this meant I had a point of focus to beginning my listening research. I also found that going to the performance allowed me to experience soundscapes in a completely different way to any ways in which I had previously been exposed to them. I also found the principle of soundwalking very useful in my own research. I have done a lot of reflective and listening-based research and so I feel that the research piece has changed my perspective on listening, particularly to sounds around me that I would otherwise ignore. I have found that listening intently to my environment is a worthwhile endeavour and that listening to a sound for its own merits without considering its sonorous object is rewarding, relaxing and fascinating.

One of the biggest changes I have noticed in my work as I have gone through is my initial rejection of the idea of a hi-fi and lo-fi soundscape as outlined by many acoustic ecologists. As I have pointed out in my draft reflections, I found that actually making going out and making recordings and then listening back to them and discovering the noise level (lo-fi sounds) was so high, made me actually appreciate what acoustic ecologists are talking about, and I hope my soundscape demonstrates the noisiness of even relatively quiet suburban areas.

I have enjoyed spending time listening to the world around me and trying to capture it on my field recorder. I feel that not only have I learnt a lot about listening techniques and soundscape composition, but I have also learnt a lot about recording and am glad I started trying out field recording before I made the recordings necessary for my final soundscape.

Soundscape (Third Draft) (7th-8th November)

I have been working on a different draft of my soundscape:

The main difference is that I have added in my footsteps to create a more phonographic soundscape. There is more evidence of mic handling in this one than previously and it places me in the soundscape. I wasn’t sure about this idea, but I thought I would try it out as I have fostered an interest¬†in soundwalking. I think it detracts from the layering I have done in my other drafts and I also think it makes it harder to hear some of the more intricate sounds in my soundscape (which are hard enough to hear over the constant roar of traffic!).

I don’t really like this draft, but I thought that since I had made the recordings and have become quite interested in soundwalks, I would try it out. I don’t feel that it has been a waste of time because I have learnt something – I don’t want to include my own footsteps in the piece.

I think the final draft will be a slight rework/remix of my second draft. It will still be a soundwalk but my presence in it will not be as defined as in this draft – I like the way it slowly transitions (the traffic gradually gets quitter, the trains get louder, more individual cars are heard and less nature sounds are heard as the walk progresses from the top of Paradise Lane to the bottom of it).

Soundscape (Second Draft) (5th – 6th November)

Yesterday and this morning I have worked on producing a second draft of my soundscape:

The immediate difference is that it is significantly shorter. I felt that the length of the first draft was too long and basically, for much of it is ended up being sparse and not very interesting. I didn’t want to limit myself time-wise, but when I actually started listening to what I had put down in Logic, I realised that it was going to be much better to speed up the movement of the piece, and now there’s less time where not much is happening. Interestingly, I usually find the opposite¬†when I’m composing music, so I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson in that I’m not going to worry so much about the length of a piece and just let my ideas develop – I can always come back to a piece and cut it back later if it’s too long, but it’s more difficult to come back to a piece weeks or months later and try to composer more material for it.

I have also made some sounds more prominent and added more processing such as compression and the Adaptive Limiter to help prevent clipping. I have also considered how to address the ‘sound body’. I have added EQ boosts at the low end on the car and train sounds and although it’s not terribly clear on my headphones, I hope once I listen to it through monitors, I’ll really be able to feel the rumbling bass sound.

As I mentioned in my first draft, a lot of the sounds are difficult to hear on the original recordings due to the level of the traffic noise. I know I rejected the idea of hi-fi and lo-fi soundscapes in an earlier post, but I’m starting to think maybe there’s some truth in it. Having actually gone back to Fareham and listened to just how loud and over-bearing the traffic noise is, particularly then when I got my recordings and listened back to them, I think it’s actually quite shocking just how loud the traffic noise is and how much it is drowning out. I’d love to stop the traffic and make recordings in the same place just to hear what the natural environment really sounds like!

Soundscape (First Draft) (3rd – 4th November)

Yesterday and today I worked on my soundscape. This is my initial draft: I think it picks up towards the end, and I need to do more to make it interesting at the beginning. The concept, at the moment is essentially a soundwalk down Paradise Lane, starting at the top of the field (next to the M27/A27) and walking all the way down to where it meets Cams Hill/A27. I have not included my own footsteps, but I think tomorrow I will try a draft with them included. One of the things I have struggled with is the amount of traffic noise on my recordings, particularly of birds. I have used Logic X’s Channel EQ to get rid of the low frequency noise and boosted the frequencies at which the birds are singing to try and get rid of this. I think with a bit more precision, the sounds could be better, so I’m going to give that a go tomorrow.