Here’s a clip of a composition I’ve produced from some field recordings. Just before Christmas last year, I was recording an air vent drone in the High School Yards, to the rear of the Institute of Geography in Edinburgh. After a few minutes I noticed a regular dripping sound coming from snow melting into a nearby drain, so I decided to relocate the mic to bring both sounds into the mix.
I think this could be a piece of experimental music; the full 6 minute version may well get released as a Buffalo buffalo track some time in the future. But it’s also a document of a hybrid micro-geography, a record of an insitu, impromptu, more-than-human performance. We could hear this as an unintended duet between the weather and the built environment, with systems for air and water management intertwining.
Many thanks to Jonathan for the photo of the air vent.
Tech details: the recordings were made with a Rode NT4 in full Rycote windshield, and a Tascam DR100 recording at 24 bit, 44.1 kHz. Recordings were edited and EQ’d in Logic..
A great big thanks to everyone who came to Edinburgh to the international training and networking event I organised at the start of May. For those who weren’t there, this was a week-long workshop exploring experimental audio, visual and site-specific research methods. It was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and hosted by the Institute of Geography at the University of Edinburgh, with support from the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow.
I think it’s fair to say that overall it was a big success. There was a really positive vibe about the whole thing. Eric Laurier summed up the mood in an email sent to all the attendees the following week:
“Can you come again next week? This one has lacked crackly birdsong, vibrating balloons, soldering irons, city symphonies, anechoic chambers, autumn salmon roe, centrifuges, quarry hammers, avian corpses, men on scaffolding (well it hasn’t, but has in that storyboard way), violin-voices in the foyer, cycle rides to the Wild West and most importantly, the music of your enthusiasm.”
To flesh out to Eric’s list, some highlights included:
A trigger-happy Matt Rogalsky wandering about shooting a starting pistol, to record the acoustics of various spaces.
Louise K Wilson showing people how to build their own contact mics and hydrophones (picture above)
Victoria Clare Bernie exploring how storyboarding might work in the context of creative research.
Sans Facon inviting people to compose their own sound walks.
Nigel Thrift giving us a big dollop of theory in the middle of the week.
Perdita Phillips installing mics on the roof of the geography building to record the seagulls.
Tansy Spinks conducting an impromptu participatory performance on the main stairs.
David Paton and friends presenting audio-visual work about a disused quarry which once supplied much of the stone used in Edinburgh’s grand buildings.
Hilary Ramsden triangulating Ennio Morricone, a side street in Morningside, and dogs barking on the meadows.
Hayden Lorimer describing the early history of wildlife recording, before the invention of magnetic tape. This included such things as cables running for two miles from mics in the woods to a van full of machines which would cut sound waves into discs of heated-up wax.
Murray Campbell from physics showing us round the acoustics labs, and answering questions such as ‘can you make a kettle boil by shouting?’ (answer: in theory perhaps, but not in practice).
An evening of experimental films curated by Edinburgh-based film-maker Matt Lloyd, and an evening of experimental music courtesy of Martin Parker’s Dialogues festival.
The result was a week which one participant described on his evaluation form as “by far the most interesting and fun event I had attended in the past few years”.
Jonathan Prior has made an audio-visual slideshow which I think nicely captures the flow of the event:
Special thanks to Eric, Hayden, Jonathan and Andy Wilbur for their help and support with this project, and to the ESRC for funding it.
Can you come again next week? This one has lacked crackly birdsong, vibrating balloons, soldering irons, city symphonies, anechoic chambers, autumn salmon roe, centrifuges, quarry hammers, avian corpses, men on scaffolding (well it hasn't, but has in that storyboard way), violin-voices in the foyer, cycle rides to the Wild West and most importantly, the music of your enthusiasm.
‘Experimenting with Geography: See-Hear-Make-Do’ is an event dedicated to developing a diverse range of craft skills associated with audio, visual and site-specific methodologies,at different city locations, both inside and out-of-doors. It will take place at the University of Edinburgh, 3rd-7th May 2010.
Applications are invited from early career researchers and PhD students to participate in this ESRC-fundedInternational Training School.
I’m really excited about this event. We have a great line up of guests including sound artists (Jacob Kirkegaard, Matt Rogalsky), visual/site specific artists (Louise K Wilson, Sans Facon) geographers (Nigel Thrift, Trevor Paglen, Hayden Lorimer, Eric Laurier) and a visual anthropologist (Sarah Pink). It’s going to be a whole week of fun stuff. We even have some fully funded places (travel, accommodation and food costs all covered).
Check out the project page for more information and how to apply to take part: