A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

More Guywire Shenanigans

Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design
Antennae on Big Rock Ridge, Lucas Valley, Marin County, California. I'm lucky to have found this damn thing in fog like that!

Antennae on Big Rock Ridge, Lucas Valley, Marin County, California. I'm lucky to have found this damn thing in fog like that!

As mentioned in earlier posts, Ben Burtt famously made the Star Wars blaster sounds out of hitting tensioned wires. Who wouldn’t want to do the same? My interest was really in how much or little processing it might have taken to get such an iconic sound, so I had to give it a go.

Well, it turns out that the answer is “precious little.”

Here’s some more audio fun from my recording session in dense fog and high wind with guywires that were stabilizing an antenna array. (I highlighted some wind-in-the-wires drones from this session in a previous post.) This very short collection of samples hasn’t been processed beyond than normalization for loudness. It makes a feller want to go around hitting everything with a wrench!


[OktavaMod MK-012 into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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“Pew! Pew!” Part Deux: Gutter Lasers

Posted: October 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design
Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Anyone who’s got an interest in sound has heard the story of Ben Burtt using the sound of struck guy wires to create the Star Wars blaster sound. This changed the sound of science fiction forever; before this, all energy weapons were basically analog synth patches. Part of what makes this sound so unique (and repeated – Burtt himself used struck springs for Wall•E) is how high-frequency sounds travel faster through a metallic medium than low-frequency sounds. This is what gives these sounds their “PEEEWWW!” sound effect. Heck, even I used these principles to synthesize some similar sounds.

Which brings us to my rain gutters on this Halloween.

My house has thin metal rain gutters, from which I ritually hang hard-plastic LED holiday lights, usually right before Halloween, my most important holiday (today!). So when hanging the lights one year, one of the bulbs struck the middle of a 30′ run of solid metal and made this muffled, “block” peewwww sound. Laser-like, but different, loads of low-mid frequency content. I live pretty close to a highway, which was line of sight from my roof, so the only way I could record this sound cleanly was by using a contact microphone. (Recording a length of rain gutter with a small condenser mic in an indoor space would sound less clacky and “square,” but I don’t have a 30′ long recording studio!)

After some EQ, compression, and limiting, the results are below.

LaserGutters by noisejockey
[Contact microphone, Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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