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

The Many Voices of Water

Posted: March 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, nature recording
Blackstone Canyon, my local refuge from Bad Things.

Blackstone Canyon, my local refuge from Bad Things.

I live at the foot of a number of hills that converge into a canyon not five minutes from my house. We have a very Mediterranean climate, so this canyon is dry in the summer. In the winter, the canyon is alive with creeks, streams, and small waterfalls. These winding watercourses have quite varied voices, from deeply resonant hydraulics to burbling, rock-strewn runs. Its sound never ceases to calm me.

This short piece is an aural tour of my local watershed. It crossfades from one water “tone” to another, from the rivulets at the end of the canyon to some of the waterfalls at its head. Of course, the limitations of MP3 encoding sadly adds some warbling and artifacting to the higher frequencies.

When doing this kind of recording, a medium to long boom pole is essential to get nice up-close perspectives without going into the drink yourself.


[Røde NT4 stereo mic into a Sound Devices 702 field recorder]

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Whistling Wind from Where?!?

Posted: February 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, sound design
Look cold? Good. It was!

Look cold? Good. It was!

This Mordor-looking photo shows Mono Pass in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. 12,000′/3,657m high, we crossed it in August, but we still got snowed, rained, and hailed on, and the winds were definitely in the 40mph range. A forbidding place, an intense day, and freakin’ cold to boot.

I remember the sound of the wind, especially, howling in my ears but also sometimes between spaces between rocks. Very distinctive, almost like the wind that you hear in movies.

I had to travel almost halfway around the world to a cute cottage in a summery, temperate rainforest to actually record wind that sounded like that.

Staying at a lodge along New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Track on the South Island, a huge southerly wind kicked up around dusk and made this great whistling sound through our bedroom windows. What luck! Rather than be outside in an actual gale, I could position my recorder right near the sound source – tiny gaps between the windows – while having the windows themselves completely protect the microphones from the wind itself. I changed the perspective of the recording a few times, so rather than futz with it all to match or mess with a multitrack edit for this post, I just crossfaded to silence between each wind gust. You’ll get the idea.

So, just goes to show you: What you record, when, and where, can sometimes have little to do with the mental images one gets from the sounds recorded…which is why I included the photo above and not the nice real picture of tree ferns and sunshine!

Whistling Wind by noisejockey
[Zoom H2 recorder]

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