Posts Tagged ‘field recording’

NAISA – Deep Wireless Festival – May 2013

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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My soundscape composition  ‘Annapurna Pastoral – One Hundred Springs‘ was selected for inclusion in the Deep Wireless Festival of Radio and Transmission Art. Presented by New Adventures In Sound Art based in Toronto, the festival is a month-long celebration of radio and transmission art including performances, installations, radio broadcasts and the TransX Transmission Art Symposium.

The work is composed of field recordings from the Annapurna region in Nepal collected in 2007.

For the month of May my work is included in a curated selection of music and sound art on the theme of ‘sonic geography’.  The playlist is available on the NAISA soundcloud page featured below and will also be broadcast on their 24 hr webcast. Programme details are available here.

 

The Kingdom of Fife

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I am originally from Kirkcaldy, a town in Fife on the East coast of Scotland. I get home to visit now and again and often take a drive or walk up the coast towards the East Neuk and St Andrews – usually with some recording gear. The landscape is mostly rural, arable land with my interest drawn to the coastline, probably due to living in landlocked Birmingham. Beautiful views out across the Firth of Forth to Inchkieth, the Bass Rock, the May Isle and East Lothian beyond change to the open expanse of the North sea as you round the point at Crail.  The once thriving fishing villages are more often busy with visitors during the tourist season, attracted by their picturesque harbours, cottages and beaches. The old mining towns and industrial docklands I’m sure don’t get much of a look in.

I’ve started uploading a selection of field recordings from these visits to soundcloud. More will no doubt follow.

The Kingdom of Fife by Iain Armstrong

Urban Wildlife

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Here are another couple of field recordings that capture the sounds of wildlife in an urban, Birmingham garden.

The first is a recording of a flock of starlings that happend to roost for a short time on the roof of my house. The sliding melodic songs are echoed briefly amongst the traffic by an ice cream van and a siren. They departed as swiftly as they arrived.

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This second recording is the delicate sound of worms and woodlice working their way through my compost bin. It was recorded using hydrophones submerged under the surface of the compost.

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Rhodia Alarm Test, Langley

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Rhodia, a division of Solvay,  is a large chemical manufacturing plant in the small community of Langley, West Midlands.  Every year they test the off-site alarm, intended to warn local residents of potential danger resulting from problems at the plant such as chlorine gas leaks.

On 9th August at 12.00pm I managed to make two recordings of the alarm which sounds very similar to an air raid siren. The first was from just outside the factory gate, made with two small omnis hung out of my car window.

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The second was made with a stereo microphone from Langley park, about half a mile away.

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(Thanks to Annie Mahtani for the insider info!)

‘Fence Songs’ for World Listening Day 2012

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

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As my contribution to this year’s World Listening Day, here are three recordings of a fence I made at a Sandwell Valley Country Park just North of  Birmingham. This is an ongoing study of the park which, due to its proximity to both the M5 and M6 motorways, does not afford very good air recording opportunities. Instead I have been focussing on contact mic and hydrophone recordings.

Each example is slightly different:

In this first one the microphones are attached to the smooth top wire and you can hear the low singing drone of the wind blowing across the wire. The higher frequency taps and scrapes are the sounds of the long grass moving against the fence.

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In this second example the microphones were attached to the top barbed wire as I struck and plucked the smooth wire in front (as in the photograph). I assume the vibrations were being transfered via the wooden fence posts to which they were both attached. There are some very low frequencies in these sounds that will be better appreciated on headphones or loudspeakers with a wide frequency range.

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Finally I moved the microphones onto the top of the wire grid formation that forms the main fence structure,  this gives a much stronger impression of the grass moving against the fence.

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All the recordings were made with contact microphones by Jez Riley French.

Bees, Birds & Bikes

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

This recording was made in a domestic garden on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy, Fife in June this year. As you may have guessed from the title the prominent sounds are bees, birds (the loudest I think is a song thrush) and the ‘bikes’ are motorbikes.

I attached a spaced pair of small omnidirectional microphones on some branches just under the canopy of an old cotoneaster bush that was just coming into flower – hence its popularity with the bees that were present in large numbers around the garden, suprising given the recent concerns about population decline. This microphone placement gives the perception of depth to the soundscape: the closeness and immediacy of the bees, the more distant but present thrush and the still further away motorbikes (and aeroplane of course).

I like the way the sound of the motorbike engine mimics the buzzing bees, like a giant bee flying around in the distance.

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NoiseFloor Performance 03.05.12

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Live at NoiseFloor 2012 by Iain Armstrong

This is a recording of a live laptop performance I gave on 3rd May at the NoiseFloor festival in Stafford, UK. It utilises raw and manipulated field recordings, live mixing and processing. My set was part of a continuous performance by members of SOUNDkitchen and for the first 5 minutes I was improvising with Annie Mahtani and Julien Guillamat. In this version the opening has been edited to include only my material and create a self contained recording. The complete, original version with the additional performances will no doubt be available at some point via the SOUNDkitchen website.

Robins in the Urban Jungle – Birmingham, UK

Saturday, May 12th, 2012
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Photo: Ernst Vikne via Wikipedia

I have recently been enjoying the sight of a pair of nesting robins (Erithacus rubecula) who chose to build their nest amongst the ivy and honeysuckle on a fence directly outside my studio. The glass panelled door and position of my desk meant that the dutiful feeding trips of the male returning to the sitting female frequently caught my eye. I eargerly awaited the hatching of the chicks as their nesting position was conveniently situated for me to gain easy access with my microphones. A week or so later the increased frequency of the parents darting in and out of the nest, accompanied by a distinct, high pitched chattering sound on each visit signalled my time for action.

Using a pair of small, lightweight omnidirectional microphones I was able to clip these to the shrubbery just outside the entrance to the nest.  This recording captures the sound of the adult birds’ wings as they enter the nest, the excited chattering of the babies as they call out to be fed followed by some satisfied chirps. In this particular excerpt the background ambiance reveals the urban location, the slightly inclement weather and the unexpected, mid-week peal of bells from the local church.

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While the position of the nest, barely 1.5m up the fence, was ideal for my field recording pleasure, since their arrival I had been concerned about the security of this location. There are neighbourhood cats that also appear at my window. Inevitably, after only a few precious days of life the robins were conspicuous by their absence and a quick look revealed one of the chicks, floating lifeless in a bucket of rainwater by the back door. Life is harsh in the urban jungle.  So this turn of events lends a particular poignancy to this recording.