Soundscape In Your Pocket – Sonic Sketchbook #13

So what about knitting soundscapes? Well…

I’m often disappointed in re-listening to a field recording I took from a place which I thought sounded gorgeous. The recording would sound like a document from the past, much like a photograph. Not the vivid and exciting moments in time I was witnessing, with sensational sound coincidences.

Consequently I started to dissect the soundscape sounds into little separate pieces. As if Wind, Oystercatchers, Dry Grasses all walked into the recording studio to have their take recorded. If you’d throw these recordings in a sampling machine or sequencer they would make a slightly cheesy dance tune.

Hmmm – how to trigger them in their natural-ish timing so they start to sound like the actual thing. It would need very many random little trigger points. A swarm of them. That’s what the needles do.

Imagine listening to a dense clicking sound knitting needles would make when several people would be knitting at the same time. That’s what I needed. Many triggers of my sound samples. Record one leaf of a tree, play it back densely to create the rustling of an entire tree.

I finally had a soundscape in my pocket.

Below is a recording of the soundscape sounds we used in the Millennium Centre workshop of last Saturday. They are sounds you can hear on Strumble Head, close to where I live. Or my sonic translation of them.

Walking on the coast path. You can hear the soundscape change from a subtle wind which rustles the grasses, to breezier weather with the sea in the distant. Then sea sounds closer as you walk into a valley. Closer to hear a flock of Arctic Terns on a rock in the middle of the sea. You’ll pass some rocks when the terns sound further away and other coastal birds come in earshot. The ever-turning Lighthouse is always present. It’s cogwheels are chirping. Then it’s early April and the temperature changes between land and sea causes sea fog and the foghorn will sound.

…slowly it turns night and the wind, the sea, the lighthouse, the dolphins and siren sounds all make for a good sea farer’s folk tale.

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