Five days until we perform at the Glasgow Film Fest and we are on schedule. My Max patch seems to be working well and I couldn’t stop after playing with it for two hours yesterday = a good sign! I can’t wait to release it as a downloadable app and see what people use it for.
Max/MSP aside, this post is about the content – field recordings, voice and music.
Recently, on another windy day, I recorded the wind whistling and swishing through the ventilator shaft.
Here’s what it sounded like:
Feel free to download it!
To add some variation to it, I loaded it up in Kontakt (inspired by this, obviously) and modulated the pitch, volume and a low pass filter with a MIDI controller. I tried to retain the actual sound and character of the recording, whilst still affecting it subtley. If Pro Tools had a pitch automation lane, sound design will be a whole lot more fun! Small changes in pitch and volume can add so much:
Recorded with a Neumann KM130 pair (omni) and a Sound Devices 744 at 96KHz. Why? It’s what I had with me at that point in time.
Hollyrood Park is one of my favourite spots to spend time either walking or recording. It not only sounds very different on different days but is made up of a variety of sounds: wind, distant traffic (and sirens), birds, people jogging/walking with their dogs and swans, ducks, sea gulls and other birds.
This first one was at Dunsapie Loch, right behind Arthur’s Seat. It is an excerpt from a 20 minute recording featuring a good blend of mute swans, greylag geese, gulls, city noise and people. I sat at the edge of the pond with gulls flying above and around me and people jogging behind me. At 1:25 a swan gets out of the water and at 1:50 a dog goes after the ducks.
Recorded with a Neumann KM184 pair (ORTF) and Sound Devices 702.
This second one was right below Salisbury Crags at about 9am on a Sunday – birds, little traffic, distant bagpipes (Scotland!) and people walking around the park.
Recorded with a Neumann KM120 and KM184 (MS) and Sound Devices 702.
Salisbury Crags on SoundCloud
I spent a few days last week recording a variety of rural ambience – part of a larger effort to document as many rural sounds as I can in the next two weeks. I spent two days trekking around villages outside the city and recording as much as I could. The sound below is a collection of recordings at the same location at different times of the day. It’s interesting to hear how the soundscape changes with time.
Gear: Audio Technica BP4025 > Sound Devices USBPre2 > TOSLINK > Sony D50
In my spare time I have been editing and cataloging all the sounds I’ve recorded off the Zoom H4n with the hope of catching up with the months of backlog. A lot of the sounds were recorded impulsively and then forgotten. Out of what I’ve ploughed through so far, I found two that felt interesting enough to share.
Early one morning I decided to walk down to the nearby Mosque and record the morning prayer. While the recording did not come out as clean as I would have liked, the combination of the prayer and the sounds around creates an interesting vibe. Something about this recording makes me feel humbled – every time I listen to it.
A few months ago I spent a Sunday walking around Mumbai discreetly recording sounds. This one was at Nariman Point, which is one of the southern tips of Mumbai by the sea. It’s usually crowded with people on weekends – families, loners , children, hawkers and beggars. The sea is usually calm (there’s no beach) and the little sound it makes is masked by traffic and the people around. Being a country with a hugely diverse culture there about 29 recognized major languages and hundreds of dialects. You can hear a variety of languages being spoken in this recording – although it’s dominated by Gujarati and Hindi. Also keep a ear out for the hawkers and the little drum used for monkey dances (although it’s banned, it still exists). This was recorded while I walked down the stretch – with the microphones pointed at the people for stereo spread. It was late evening.
There’s nothing more daunting and challenging than working with limitations – especially when recording something as complex as a car. On Sunday, Amit Barde and I decided to record Raghu Kannan’s modified Swift. This is what we were up against:
- Limited equipment - my Sennheiser MKH 416, Audio Technica BP4025, Cold Gold buffered contact mic, Zoom H4n, USBPre2 and Amit’s Zoom H4n and very useful Fat Gecko Suction Mount
- A city with only live sound rental companies – limited choice of equipment
- A limited budget
- Lack of quiet locations (everybody in this country feels it is their fundamental right to sound the horn every few seconds)
- NO GAFFER TAPE! (extremely tough to source gaffer/duct tape here)
- NO GAFFER TAPE!?!!!! (High speed -> MKH 416 -> DANGLE -> DRAG -> SCRAPE -> OUUUCH!!!)
What we did have on our side was:
- Some equipment (refer point 1, previous paragraph)
- Some choice of rental microphones (2x Shure SM57, 2x Shure PG81, 1x Shure PG52)
- Recording early on a Sunday outside the city
- Rolls of cellophane tape, cloth tape, paper tape, insulating tape, string, wire
- Lots of orange coloured foam
- 1x silver Maruti Swift (Modified: K&N Free Flow Filter, shortened first and second gears, stiffened suspension + frame & other automobile mumbo-jumbo)
- 1x Very good driver
We had a total of 8 microphones and 6 inputs – 2 on each of the H4n’s and 2 on my USBPre2 if I recorded to my laptop. With previous experience I knew that using DAWs outdoors only complicated things (takes longer to name the track > record enable > locate record point on the time line > hit record > stop > drop marker with information/name the file). I decided to use BoomRecorder which functions like a location recorder – scene/take metadata, time code stamp, comments and a detailed field report at the end of the session.
About seven months ago I was privileged enough to be asked by the Midival Punditz to record on location at the Elephanta Caves for a Bharathanatyam dance project they were working on. The goal was to overdub two percussionists and a vocalist separately over a few songs while capturing the sound of the caves.
The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves on the Elephanta Island, about ten kilometers off the Mumbai coastline. They are dated to the 6th-7th centuries AD and most of the rock sculptures represent Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction.
My primary concerns for the recording were track count, monitoring and obviously noise at the location. The caves are a tourist hot-spot and can get quite noisy. We decided to catch the first ferry (9AM, the last one is at 5PM) to beat the crowd since we weren’t given exclusive permission to the space. This meant we had to survey and setup quickly. Read more…