Tag Archive: field recording

Sound Maps of the World

The BBC asked their listeners in a radio programme called “Save Our Sounds” to upload sound recordings from where they live in order to create an audio map of the world. This idea is indeed not new and there are some collaborative sound mapping projects around for quite some time. One I’m particularly fond of is the dutch site Sound Transit where you can “book” a transit from one place to another via a third one and then listen to the three field recordings mixed into one single file. I have added a couple of recordings to the vast library and you can find sound bits of many more artists on their beautiful site. Another mashup-way of sound mapping is bringing sounds recorded at a specific location onto Google Maps. Good examples are aporee.org and many other site covering a certain area of city like New York, Montreal, Chicago or London. A sound and video map of Kwung Tong, part of urban Hong Kong and under threat of large urban renewal plans, documents the cultural heritage of their unique community. Finally, the British Library has recently made their sound archive available, more than 25.000 recordings of music, spoken word, and human and natural environments can be examined by everyone. Not a sound map in the first place, the user can nevertheless browse through varios archives with the help of interactive maps.


Half hour documentary from Raquel Castro about sound and listening featuring interviews with Christoh Cox, Janek Schaefer, Peter Cusack, Rafael Toral, Sabine Breitsameter and many others. I liked the story about a young mother who used sound to communicate with her downstair neighbour, an old lady she didn’t liked because the lady controlled her comings and goings. When she made love to her husband, she had a bed with a broken mattress and she wouldn’t fix it because, whenever she makes love to her husband the neighbour downstairs will listen. Also two nice quotes from Allen S. Weiss in the documentary: “Sound: everything we hear and many things we don’t” and “Sound Art: what we do with what we hear.”
(via SAM)

Soundscapes go Commercial

How it could look like when field recording goes commercial, this video could be an example…

Noticed the man passing by with the magenta umbrella or the woman in LA with the skirt of the same colour? Some kind of subtle product placement since magenta is the brand colour of the German Telekom, who commisioned the video and the music.


This is another scene from Kenyas Masai Mara, indeed a quite ugly one: vultures feeding on a topi or a similar animal. There was some noisy dispute about who had the right to get the best of the meal, as you can hear…


I just returned from a short trip to Kenya which is, of course, famous for its abundance of wildlive. In the National Park Masai Mara we encountered a herd of elephants that just appeared in a bush and slowly approached our car while they peacefully grazed and ate. There was a very small baby elephant with the herd – according to our guide not more than 2 or 3 days old – and it is known that elephants can react aggressive when they feel disturbed with their offspring. That’s why there lays a certain kind of tension over this recording of the grazing elephants, one of the bulls finally just stood aside of our car only a meter away and even our guide got a bit nervous… Check the baby elephant trying to suck milk from the mother sometime later in the recording. There is also a growl sound which I suppose comes from one of the elephants but it actually sounds like a lion, so I have to check whether this is part of the acoustic repertoire of elephants or not. As you know they do infrasonic noises to communicate but that is something I leave to the bioacousticians to record…


In this little series of CDs that I picked to circumscribe my area of interest, I hope that it is clear that I don’t go for the latest releases but works that kind of grow after repeated listening as it is in this case from 2003. Toshiya Tsunoda is frequently compared to artists like Chris Watson or Francisco Lopez, though his approach is different in the way he already modifies his field recordings on the set with the use of contact microphones and  unusual placements of microphones. On “Pieces Of Air” he recorded sounds from within pipes, tubes, and long cylindrical objects translating the idea of Helmholtz resonators into a modern experimental setting. On this sirr-records release he collects a fine mixture of straight forward field recordings and some contact mic takes that underline his subtle sensibility towards hidden sounds and unlikely locations. There is a strong subjectivity expressed through his choice of places and moments, although everything is presented here in an almost laconic manner. Not inviting in the first place this CD, but it leaves a lasting impression that let me return to that little gem again and again. To get a better understanding of his thinking and his concept, check this little essay on erstwords.

In an interview series about the hows, whys and what ifs of field recording I was pleased to answer Jez’ famous four questions. You can read the interview here, and please check the interview series with other sound artists in Jez Riley French’s blog, they are worth reading. He has just released underwater recordings of waterways close to his home in east yorkshire on his own label engraved glass.

On a symposium about experimental radio art last weekend, I found the conceptual work of german artist Christoph Korn quite interesting in the context of this blog. Since three years he deals with automated audio erasing processes. He presented one piece that will be broadcasted later this year on german radiostation HR3 and is actually a reverse version of Alvin Lucier’s “I’m sitting in a room”. Instead of replaying the audio into the room again, Korn wrote a patch for MAX/MSP which automatically erases fragments of audio with every repetition from a spoken text quite similar to Lucier’s classic piece. After about 15 min. there is no audio anymore, the piece ends in silence. A similar concept, only over a much longer time period, was persued in his piece “waldstueck” that is based on a 24-hour field recording of a forest section close to Dachau, a former nazi concentration camp. The audio recording has been transferred to a web server and will be successively deleted, randomly and automatically, over a period of three years. The deletion process began on February 5, 2008 and within three years there will be nothing to be heard. A protocol of disappearance, one might say, over the impossibility either to say, or not to say anything about or around Dachau.