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.
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.
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.
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.
“The first half in particular suffers from homogeneity, partly because other textures are subsumed into traffic. It will be worth revising the first half, by making more recordings, and/or using some artificial construction to draw attention to peripheral sounds.”
Jeevan also noted that while the generative rhythms of the traffic are interesting, they go on too long. I noticed that myself listening again to my soundscape last week. My second idea is to incorporate more recordings, in particular bring in more ‘hi fi’, nature sounds, such as birds into the first half.
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)
I thought this was a really interesting film. It gave an overview of a acoustic ecologist’s opinions on the soundscape. One part that particularly resonated with me was when David New recommended reducing the number of sounds in our life because there are too many in modern days. I had been up the hill to get some recordings that evening and it was quite quiet up there – although I could still hear the sounds of traffic and could make out the trains and a building site, it was at a much-reduced level. After spending about two hours up there, walking around, collecting recordings and watching the sun set, I adjusted to the quiet. When I walked back down to Guildford Park Road, it was still rush-hour. There were lots of cars going past, and an ambulance also went past with its full sirens on. Coupled with bright, artificial lights from headlights and streetlights, I experienced a sort of sensory overload. It did make me think about the impact of such loud sounds on my environment – even as I type this, I can hear the traffic loudly through my open window.
Whispering in the Leaves – an interview with Chris Watson:
Chris Watson said a lot of very interesting things in this interview. I like that he works in a home studio in his loft – he makes it clear that you don’t need a big studio to make good soundscapes (no pressure on me, then). He also says that the microphone is his instrument, his primary tool in his compositions. I’m going to try and think of my microphone like that, particularly at the weekend when I go to my parents’ house and make my Paradise Lane recordings. I also understood what he meant when he said he gets lost in a ‘sonic universe’ when he puts his headphones on and starts listening and recording. I’ve felt that on a couple of occasions of field recording, or even just listening back to my recordings.
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.).