Sonic Sketchbook

#16 Bamboo and Imaginary Drummer 
#15 Glassine Tissue Paper 
Taking you to your childhood photo album;
to the lady in a documentary proudly illustrating her history with newspaper cutouts;
to the uncle with the exotic stamps collection.
It also sounds a bit like a sea wave.
Or like it just as it is.




#14 A Stream Of Goats 

While we where walking around in the hills on holiday, we could hear a faint water stream running for a long time. Yet, it sounded a bit odd for a stream, plus we couldn’t see any water anywhere?

After a while walking around the sound grew louder and we could spot hundreds of goats all with their own bells. Just my luck. Beautiful sonic texture.




#13 Soundscape In Your Pocket

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.



#12 How The Eye Wanders 

How my music evolves over time often relates to how my eyes wander over a landscape, architecture or an object. In my mind this little nothing piano snippet – which reminds me of another piece, but in this case that doesn’t matter – follows how my eyes would follow the rocky surface of a cliff.

A sketch out on paper to show me what it is I like, is what I get from it. It might translate into the next stage of a work. Or not.



#11 Laboratorus

Came across this in my archive. All sounds are by the ARP2500. Apart from a bird called William.

I had a laboratory in mind, for my sonic comic book DR.NAUT



#10 What We Want And What We Get

This is a sketchbook, right? No sketchbook can be complete without cut outs of some sort. A scrap of newspaper, a photograph, a paper wrapping.

Field recordings like these are my main inspiration – I find them fascinating and abstract and often also witty. About what we Would Like to hear and what life Actually sounds like.

My phone is full of these little recordings, and I don’t care about poor quality, coat rustling, volumes. It all adds to a certain spark.

I was looking for a certain recording and stumbled upon these two little gems – we’re in the NYC subway.



#09 Feeling the Love….

Easter holidays have been lovely – glorious sunshine, fabulous company. So much so I felt like writing a love song. I thought “no bells and whistles, be a purist Bard, for god sake stick to a genre”.

There was júst this little break I wanted to fit it…….

… entire Sunday later I found myself here, on this musical spot – let’s see if Love can agree on my deafening take on Love. It’s more of a sonic representation what happens neurologically, I suppose. Yet not entirely sure whether it’s going to fit in into the song as the break I was after.

Picture: CD Howe’s Neural Network was created using EEG recordings of the artist’s brain activity in a variety of states. This data was assigned numeric color values and projected onto a standing wave of water which corresponded to the dominant recorded brain wave.



#08 Study with Keyboard and Leather Chair 

A study of concrète and instrument sounds – and quite cheerful.

I was sitting in my room in Hotel Monopol in full appreciation of their choice of leather chair. It’s only slightly present in this sketch. I’m sure there will be more celebration of it at some point. In a lead role.



#07 Irish Moss FX

Last few days the tide has been very far out, a Spring spring tide. It creates a great opportunity to collect seaweed. While I was clumsily vacuum packing some sun dried crispy Irish Moss, one package wasn’t air tight and starting to refill with oxygen, which created a fabulous sound. I shot up with the faulty package to a mic and recorder, before it finished refilling, and captured it.

This particular sonic texture is something I have a fascination with lately, as such this recording made my day. Tried some effects processing on it. It’s interesting how clearly and metally the bell sound effect rings – using only a filterbank – which is all to do with the versatility of the raw sound.



#06 Knitting Bamboo Storm Lonesome Drummer

A knitted piece. Slightly SciFi of course… ;)

(more about knitting music here



#05 Aromatic

Composing, creating art – it’s a mental game. One moment you spend hours on a piece, next moment you throw it in the corner.

Fished this fragrant piano sketch out of my digital bin. Maybe I’ll iron it.



#04 ‘1953’ Faber&Faber/ Somethin’ Else poem project


Launched to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, ‘60 Years in 60 Poems’ was commissioned for The Space in 2012. At the very outset Faber teamed up with Somethin’ Else

Somethin’ Else took what started as a fairly loose brief, explored concepts and considered every essential of accessible user-centered design, and assembled a crack production team. Carol Ann Duffy’s bestselling anthology Jubilee Lines was interpreted using actors’ recordings, sound-based generative design and archive film footage to create an exciting new way to enjoy poetry. (source

This is a sketch for a soundtrack I made for the poem ‘Winged Back’ by Dannie Abse, marking the year 1953 in this project.

Jubilee Lines final 15-Faber&Faber-DannieAbse



#03 Shakespeare And Hedgeshear rushes


Whilst preparing the effects processing for the Shakespeare And Hedgeshear concert in Wroclaw, I got distracted by the fabulous sounds developing in my sacred space being my headphones world.

You can hear the pingpong balls creating an entire biome.



#02 Processed Paper


I’m working on a Sound And Music ‘Embedded’ commission for the experimental Apartment House ensemble. The page turning sound of the player’s paper score makes part of piece.

I have been trying out whether or not to use sound processing on the paper sounds, resulting in a few hours worth of Paper FX recordings, very soundscape-like – stormy, watery, leafy all the way to actual beats and rhythms. Below is a random sound bite from these recordings for this week’s Sonic Sketchbook. It’s just fascinating how one source of sound can change into so many different guises.



#01 Page turner


Currently I’m working on a composition for the exquisite Apartment House ensemble. Turning the pages of it’s paper score is part of the ensemble as an instrument. I’ve been recording several paper qualities the  score might be printed on – so far rice paper is my favourite.

This week I picked two studies, one sketch where you can hear something starts to develop, a feeling of the abstract, yet inspired by natural textures, sound I am after. Followed by an earlier attempt that doesn’t work in my opinion.

NB listening to it through my devices without headphones I completely miss out on the quite crucial stereo effect. 

here it’s starting to gel….

…not sure about this one 



Weekly Sonic Sketchbook 


Many of my sonic efforts, maybe most of them, are filed in my archive as ‘studies’. Now, when I visit my visual artist friends or a visual arts exhibition, like many, the Sketchbook is often one of my favourite items to have a look in, it often adds to the experience of a finished work. Perhaps bringing some sound studies from the catacombs of my harddisk into the daylight might be an idea.

Having said all this, I didn’t make the connection myself, it’s down to a lovely man who suggested to start a sonic sketchbook, thank you George :)

On Mondays I’ll be posting Sound. Hurray!

Jobina Tinnemans - studio

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