A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, sound effects, and music.

Eerie Wind in the Wires

Posted: December 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, sound design
Antennae at Big Rock Ridge

This remote antenna array provided surprising sonic opportunities...as well as a hell of a workout getting to it...and an embarassment of forgetting some important pieces of gear...

There’s a small antenna array on a ridge near where I live (just above Skywalker Sound, oddly enough) that, like the ruined truck from a previous post, calls to me whenever I run or bike by it. It’s a 2.5, all-uphill, 1000′ climb to get there, but one foggy morning I decided to pack up some gear and run up there to see what sounds it might have to offer. Might the guy wires securing the short tower be taught and fun to strike? Might they sing in the wind? Maybe just a weird hum?

The infamous San Francisco Bay fog was thick that day, and I could barely find the faint side trail to the damn thing. Getting there, I realized that forgot my full-length audio cable (I was under-caffeinated and in a hurry to hit the trail). I’m there with a small-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic and a 12″ cable I usually use in my pistol grip shockmount, holding them with arms all bent and gimpy like a T-Rex. Quite a sight. The wind kicked up to about 15 mph, and I also forgot the fuzzy covering for my windscreen (a Rycote Baby Ball Gag). I wound up putting the windscreen right on the wires, mostly so that my body to shield the mic from the wind. This wound up transmitting both air and physical vibrations that radically broadened the frequency range of the recording, acting as a condenser and contact mic at the same time. Wound up being kind of a neat trick!

I got a lot of material in about 30 minutes of recording, some of which I’ll post later. But what was really neat was just holding the mic against the wires while the wind blew. Today’s sound is a drone taken from those wires humming in the wind.

I looped several pieces and ran it through a subtle spectral blurring plugin, which wound up augmenting some of the metallic, drony ringing tones in the original material. I just thought it was a bit creepy, otherworldly, and not at all what I expected to come away with!

GuywireAmbLoop by noisejockey
[OktavaMod MK-012 into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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