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

Paddleboat

Posted: August 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design
I'm pretty sure this paddleboat was not intended for wilderness exploration.

I'm pretty sure this paddleboat was not intended for wilderness exploration.

Before embarking on mountainous backpacking trips, I like to acclimate to the altitude for a day with some light activity. On a recent, trip, my girlfriend and I wanted to do some lake kayaking. Sadly, the sole outfitter in the region didn’t bring their kayaks that season…when offered a paddleboat instead, we shrugged, thought it was incredibly silly, and said, “Sure!”

The next thing we knew, we were out for four hours in this damn thing. We paddled halfway across an alpine lake, and fought 10-knot wind on the return trip in a craft with the hydrodynamics of a brick. The only way we survived was to sustain ourselves by playing Ghost and Twenty Questions like we were eight years old. From those plastic bucket seats, my ass was complaining for days afterwards.

It was a silly, weird, and fun…and oddly mechanical-sounding. There was this constant thrumming that sounded really regular and sustained for a muscle-powered vehicle. Early in the day there was no wind or chop, so I managed to get several minutes’ worth of clean recordings from this thing. It could easily be processed just a little and recontextualized as a mechanical texture for some device or ambience.

I almost didn’t bring my Zoom H2 on this trip, but I’m sure glad I did. I’ll have more examples from this trip in future posts. (Technical note: Dropping six rechargeable batteries at once into a cold mountain stream does not improve battery life.)

Oh, and photos from my trip can be viewed online if you’d like.

Paddleboat by noisejockey
[Zoom H2 recorder, 120°-spread rear stereo pair]

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