Soundscape (Final Draft 8th-9th November)

This is my final soundscape. I’ve uploaded it to my main CMC page here (Edit 7th Jan – as this is now simply a draft, I have re-uploaded this version of the soundscape and it can be heard here):

It is mostly similar to the soundscape I created in draft 2. I got rid of some sounds I didn’t like, including a couple of points where the wind noise was very loud and a few points where my handling of the mic was a little too obvious. A few ‘human’ sounds (people walking etc) have also been added.

I am quite pleased with how it’s turned out, despite the fact that it is quite different from my own vision. Actually going to Paradise Lane and starting to record there made me aware of just how noisy the traffic is, but this was further proved to me when I listened back to my recordings and found the traffic sound had penetrated everywhere I tried to record. This has led to a reasonably significant direction change, with the traffic noise playing a much more prominent role that I had originally planned for it. I think it’s difficult to hear a lot of what is going on and you really have to concentrate when listening to the soundscape to find the hi-fi sounds in it.

I have kept in mind the ‘listening body’ and have made sure a range of frequencies are accentuated at various points (like the bass while trains and cars go past). Mainly, I just made small changes to the mix in the edit room as I had done all previous mixes on headphones.

As I pointed out before, the ironic title ‘Paradise Lane’ is supposed to be thought-provoking: this place, is given the name ‘Paradise’, but is it really sonically paradise?

This piece is constructed as a sound walk down Paradise Lane. These are some things to listen out for:
00.00 – The A27, very close, some birds can be heard further away

00.24 – A train goes past in the distance

00.57 – Birds can be heard in the tree on the track

01.08 – Someone walks past

01.48 – A train goes past, this time closer, there are lots of trees and birds and a squirrel can be heard in them

03.04 – On the bridge as a train goes under it

04.12 – Heading towards the green, can hear birds

04.32 – A lady’s walking stick hitts the ground as she walks past

04.51 – A car passes the green

06.11 – The A27 can be heard in the distance, but also closer, at the bottom of Paradise Lane

06.28 – A train goes past, further away now

06.50 – Someone walks past

08.08 – Sirens in the distance

08.26 – A car drives up Paradise Lane

Ideas (28th October)

I’m still keeping my original idea of making a soundscape of Paradise Lane. I think the idea of hi-fi and lo-fi sounds (where hi-fi or nature sounds are considered good and lo-fi or man-made/mechanical sounds are bad) is interesting, but I don’t accept that  human-made ‘noise’ is ruining the natural soundscape. I think it is part of the changing soundscape and I would like mine to reflect the interaction between hi-fi and lo-fi in my piece rather than the destruction of hi-fi sounds by lo-fi ones.

I like the idea of calling the piece “Paradise Lane” because it will have several meanings, depending on your philosophy on soundscapes and whether you know the Fareham area or not, (for example, the title might sound ironic to an acoustic ecologist, because the natural sounds of the fields are being ‘ruined’ by the motorway, train line etc.).

Ideas (23rd October)

My current idea is to go to my parents’ home to record the soundscape. I like the idea of making a soundscape which explores the relationship between the natural sounds of the world and the man-made ones (not unlike the lake at the University of Surrey). I think Guildford is a good place to do this as there are are lots of more urban sounds contrasting with natural sounds (like at the hill overlooking the Cathedral), but I’d like to make something more personal to me. I’m going to continue developing my field recording skills here before going home to collect the recordings I will need to make my soundscape.

I live in a town called Fareham, which is not far from Portsmouth. There is a lane (Paradise Lane) that goes along the bottom of the cul-de-sac where I live. To the left it goes over the railway, turns into a grass track along the side of some fields which are backed by the motorway. To the right, it passes through a street and then turns into a gravel lane with houses on it and if you keep walking, you go over the A27, past Fareham Creek and then up into the town.

I like the idea that my house is the halfway point and to do a soundscape which has turning left hard panned left and turning right hard panned right, and seeing how they interact with each other.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 16.25.44

Map showing Paradise Lane (click for larger version)

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 13.47.07

Paradise Lane to the right of my house

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 13.45.53

Paradise Lane to the left of my house.

Framework Podcasts (21st October)

I have downloaded the following podcasts for listening to on my iPod:

http://www.frameworkradio.net/2014/10/483-2014-10-12/

http://www.frameworkradio.net/2014/10/482-2014-10-05/

http://www.frameworkradio.net/2014/09/481-2014-09-28/

http://www.frameworkradio.net/2014/09/480-2014-09-21/

I am going to immerse myself in soundscapes for the next few days to try and really get to know what sort of thing I want to create.

Soundscape Lecture Notes (20th October)

Creating Music Computers

Lecture 3 – Soundscapes

Research

  • Think long and hard about the outcome
  • For creative, rich, process-based work, you need to do some listening, reading and analysis. You try ideas out and then snowball it from there. You must have evidence that you have done this process.
  • It’s not the sort of thing you can do overnight
  • Present the material in a way that Matt can mark it
  • The other element is the work itself which is a soundscape piece of work
  • Engage with getting hold of field recordings and incorporate them into a work that responds to and works with these field recordings
  • The task should help you learn to listen in a new way: listen to your environment, think how you would record that and then think about how you would translate it into something creative

Tony Myatt/Chris Watson Talk and Concert

  • When you encounter the soundscape you move through it we are “bodies in motion”
  • Sound walking can be done to further this idea of walking through the sounds
  • It also cancels the traditional concert format
  • Combination of instruments
  • Bodily sounds – the listening body is fundamental to CMT students. Electrified sound reproduction has the potential to address the body and as listeners, we listen with our bodies, so as a writer you should be writing for the body.
  • Having a narrative
  • You’re relying on your own resources and having some abstract material but you need to have some sort of form. It has to be meaningful and accessible and having some sort of order but being something that’s poetic and having some sort of ‘meaning
  • How can soundscapes fuel the imagination?

Framework – http://frameworkradio.net

  • Podcast radio show
  • Collections of field recordings and soundscape compositions
  • Listen to them and reflect on them
  • Spend a few days listening to them and you’ll atune to the style

Field Recording

  • Act of listening and recording at the same time
  • Going on a journey or “sound safari” going out looking for material
  • In The Field: The Art of Field Recording is a good book to get
  • It’s a growing artistic practice
  • It’s similar to photography – it’s become a popular domestic hobby
  • It’s not enough to go out with your iPhone once and make a recording of Guildford train station
  • You need to develop your field recording practice – you’re going to need to do a good few hours of it – you’ll learn a lot over time and the more you can do, the better
  • Attentive listening, skilful recording and representation
  • You don’t need expensive gear
  • Can approach it in a lo-fi way but you have to think about the aesthetics
  • http://aporee.org/maps
    • Maps
    • Field recordings all over the world
  • The purist approach requires accurate representation – the idea that a field recording can tell a story
  • The basis for this work is field recording

The soundscape continuum:

Purist (field recording)                                                           Abstract (more musical)

Abstract approach:

  • Francisco Lopez:
    • Takes field recording a abstracts them
    • He makes ‘sculptural forms’
    • He doesn’t label his work or provide any details
      • Because he doesn’t want you to think about the ‘meaning’, where he’s recorded it, what it was etc.
      • He thinks by simply listening to it you’ll be able to know something about its sonic source
    • You make the field recording + represent the place and that’s ok for documentary purposes but the more it’s in evidence, the less musical the work becomes (there’s a fine line between the narrative that could be too literal and the poetic which can be quite musical)
    • His work is ‘lost’ – it does not connect to the place and he claims that this makes it very musical
    • Abstraction opens the door for artistic creation – he believe it makes things work better
    • His work kicks against the ‘traditional’ approach (which Matt refers to as ‘Soundscape Composition’
    • Nature can be noisy i.e. if you’re living next to a waterfall, it’s noisy all the time

Purist approach:

  • Referential (i.e. it represents what you would hear in the world
  • Chris Watson Stepping into the Dark
  • Creating a ‘sonorous fog’
  • Play between recognisable representation of a place and that they are just lovely to listen to

Acoustic Ecology:

  • Lo-fi/hi-fi relationship
    • Urban = lo-fi and bad
      • The constant noise of machines and man-made sounds
    • Country = hi-fi and good
  • It’s about ‘tuning’ in to the world
  • They wanted to document soundscapes that are ‘disappearing’ and there is some value to this – there is evidence that some man-made noises are actually affecting people’s health in a bad way
  • They say that the rural environment is very differentiated
  • [Barry Traux’s definitions of soundscape]
  • There is an environmentally-conscious feel to it: acoustic ecology
    • You could make a piece that is about the environment
  • Make the piece longer if it needs time to unfold

Phonography:

  • It’s not sound recording or acoustic ecology
  • It does not adhere to commercial views of perfect sound recordings
  • You can hear the mic being handled, people talking in the background

Earth Jazz

  • Bug Music in Spotify by David Rothenberg
  • This is much more musical
  • Environmentalist
  • Making music ‘with the world’
  • It’s quite tacky
  • It sounds like someone playing ok jazz with field recordings, but some of it is very interesting, particularly Bug Music
  • You could do something like this which incorporates more standard musical ideas with field recording that interact with each other. But don’t make it just an ambient piece with some field recordings

Experimental Electronica:

  • Biosphere Starswitch On
  • Higher Intelligence Agency
  • Birmingham Frequencies by Biosphere (“Canon Hill”)
  • Field recording and electronic music such as ambient
  • Be careful if you do this though, there has to be a connection between the instrumental sounds and the field recordings

Things to consider:

  • How will you record it
  • Will you be present in the piece or absent
  • When will you record it
  • You can generate many hours of recordings but just a bit will be useful
  • Collage as much as you can, even if you’re trying to make it sound like a single take
    • That’s not to say that you couldn’t do it the other way
    • But consider what’s in it and whether it’s suitable and whether it will ‘mean’ anything to them
    • Listen to the podcasts and think about how your own recordings could sound like they could be in the podcast itself

Introduction

I’m a final year Creative Music Technology student at the University of Surrey and for the module, Creating Music With Computers 3a I am required to create a soundscape which makes use of field recording and demonstrates research has informed its creation. I am keeping this blog to document my research, listening and the field recordings I will be making.

I have to submit my research, and I didn’t really want to part with my notebook which has too many important notes to be without, so after a couple of weeks, I decided to document my research here. So there will be an influx of posts today as I type up my research and get this blog up to the same point I am, and then after that, I’ll update it every time I do some work.

I’m going to start right off and be honest: I am a sceptic. I am not particularly keen on experimental or academic musics and I find them a little hard to take seriously. However, I am going to try my best to approach the task in hand with an open mind and I’ve decided that I want to learn as much as I possibly can from the experience (even if it’s that I never want to do it again!). Therefore, I’m going to directly apply my research to the piece I make and I’m going to try and take all advice and tips from Matt and Jeevan on board and apply them to my own practice.