Having listened to the new drafts I have made, there are two that stand out to me:
I like the gradual change in the fifth draft to making the traffic noise more intense, and I realised that I could try a different way of putting the soundscape together so that it would seem to gradually change, ending on the more intense, artificially manipulated sound. If I structure the soundscape so that rather than walking from the footpath (‘the track’) to the A27, I could structure it the other way round. This will be my next trial.
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.
My third idea is to shorten the first half significantly, allowing it to go on just long enough that it is interesting but not so long that the listener starts to wonder where it is going. This would allow me to keep my original idea in tact. This is my least favourite option, not just because it would involve cutting short my track even further (I shortened it twice – one draft was not published and was over 20 minutes long, the second was 13 minutes long and I finally cut it down to the length it is currently at) but to me, it lacks creativity. While sometimes less is more, I am interpreting the feedback to mean that more should be added to make the weaker sections better, rather than just taking away what isn’t currently working. Nonetheless, I am going to try this idea anyway just to compare it with the others.
“Your underestimation of how loud traffic noise would be has actually led to an interesting aspect of the resultant piece: the dynamic perceptual relationship between it and other sounds. Whether you intended it or not, the generative nature of the ‘rhythm’ of the traffic is also quite satisfying.”
One of the things that Jeevan picked up on was the traffic noise actually creating its own rhythm. I think that this is an interesting place to start. Over the last few weeks, I have been considering what to do to make this more prominent and I came up with an idea of somehow artificially manipulating the traffic over the first half of my soundscape to make these generative rhythms more prominent, before returning to the second half of the soundscape which I would keep as it was.
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).
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!
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.
On Wednesday evening, I walked up to The Mount in Guildford and made some recordings as the sun went down. My windjammer had arrived so despite the fact that it had been raining and was windy, I wanted to get some recordings. I only stayed for an hour or so because I got quite cold, but I found it quite a relaxing experience (until I came back down into the town again!). I have been busy with my other coursework so I haven’t had a chance to listen to them until yesterday and today. Here are some excerpts:
Rain on The Mount
This was taken by putting a microphone under a tree to record the rain as it dropped down on the leaves.
Guildford From Above
This is the most interesting field recording I made at The Mount. I pointed the mic towards Guildford and turned the gain up. Although there is quite a lot of noise, you can hear the town below and even a couple of airplanes overhear (the stereo mic has picked it up really well). There is a building site which is where the metallic sound are from and you can also pick out sounds from the train station as well as individual cars and faint voices.
On Sunday I went home to collect some recordings of Paradise Lane.
I started at the far end of Paradise Lane, which is a footpath that goes alongside a field. I then walked all the way back down towards the houses. I realised when I finished my recordings that I started and ended with the A27, which I thought was quite important and could be used as a possible theme in the piece. As you can probably tell from the photos, it was overcast and had been raining earlier in the morning so the ground was sodden (I decided to walk back up to the top of the path once I had gathered all my field recordings so that I could record my footsteps going back down.
Here are some photos of the area (click for bigger image):
The A27 is behind the trees
Capturing the wind rustling the leaves
Looking down the track
The bridge over the train line
Waiting for a train…
Looking up the track
The horses’ field
Recording my footsteps
The bottom of Paradise Lane
The view from the bottom of Paradise Lane (the A27)
Now to start composing my soundscape…