Hebdomadal sound project: July 2013

Week 31
Vienna, Austria
July 30th

Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain, Vienna

Toward the end of my stay in Slovakia, I was alerted to the fact that Vienna is only an hour by train from Bratislava, so I decided to go on a day trip. I spent most of my time walking and taking photographs, and visiting a couple of art galleries, but I also packed my microphones and made a few field recordings, a couple of which are presented here.
Vienna has some impressive public green spaces; the first recording was taken while standing on a small wooden footbridge overlooking the Wienfluss (the Vienna River) in Stadtpark (Viennese City Park), which is reduced to a shallow trickle at this point. You can hear the general ambiance of the park, most notably people crossing the footbridge and some children playing football against a metal fence off to the far left.

(04.45 pm (03:40))

View of the Wienfluss in Stadtpark

After some 8 hours of walking, I caught the train back to Bratislava to meet friends for food and pivo. With a storm brewing overhead I decided to make a recording as the train pulled out of the central train station in Vienna. A window is open, and so at times you can hear some paper maps of Vienna that have been tied to the side of the carriages violently flapping in the wind.

(06.00 pm (09:10))

Setup: 2 RØDE lavalier mics in stereo position to Tascam DR-680

Week 30
North Slovakia
July 23rd-26th

Strážky church and bell tower

During my stay in Strážky castle (see last week for an explanation), I was essentially given carte blanche to go wherever I wanted to, to record what I needed for the audio tour. This extended to a small bell tower and church that sit adjacent to the castle, so one day I was given a key and made my way up the bell tower to record myself ringing the bells. Here is a clean recording of me ringing one of the three; either side of the rings you can hear the wooden beam holding up the bell creaking:

(July 23rd, 11.30 am (00:26))

I was also able to get one of the staff members to wind up an (approximately) 200 year old clock that I was told hadn’t been heard for a long time:

(July 23rd, 12.15 pm (01:17))

View of the High Tatras mountains

Once I had managed to record most of what I needed within the castle, I ventured further afield to gather some recordings from nearby locations that Ladislav Medňanský, the main focus of the audio tour, painted during his years living in Strážky. The following is a recording of a meadow only a short walk from the castle, from where there are incredible views of the High Tatras mountains.

(July 26th, 10.10 am (08:30))

Strážky woodland

Next is a recording taken deep within woodland that overlooks the castle. I was standing some distance from the microphone during recording this, so any creaks and cracks are caused by the wind/animals.

(July 26th, 1.10 pm (06:30))

Dunajec River Gorge

The castle is located not too far from the Polish border, but I got even closer when the manager of the castle kindly offered to drive me to a nature reserve that stretches across the Polish border, encompassing the Dunajec River Gorge and the Three Crowns summit of the Pieniny Mountains.
The gorge is a huge draw for tourists, and there is a seemingly unending stream of wooden canoes and white water rafts hurtling down the river. Here is a recording from the banks of the river; you can hear when a canoe passes by, and wind blowing through tall grass.

(July 24th, 12.30 pm (05:00))

Haligovce woodland

A short drive from the mountains brought me to a small village called Haligovce, where I spent some time exploring and recording the forested valley that surrounds the settlement. The following is a composite of recordings along a small stream:

(July 24th, 6.00 pm (04:30))

Setup: 2 DPA 4071 mics in stereo position to Sound Devices 788T

Week 29
Bratislava and Spišská Belá, Slovakia
July 17th-21st

Primate’s Palace, Bratislava

Back in September 2011, I was invited by the Slovak National Gallery to produce an audio tour for an exhibition entitled ‘New Slovakia: (difficult) birth of the modern lifestyle, 1918-1949‘. The project seemed to go well, and so I was fortunate to be asked to return to Slovakia in 2013 to produce an audio tour for the SNG’s Strážky mansion, which is located in the north of the country close to a small town called Spišská Belá.

Presidents Palace Gardens

At the beginning of week 29 I traveled to Bratislava for a a few days to prepare for the project. I really love visiting Bratislava, so I spent as much time as possible out walking the streets (slowly, given that temperatures were close to 40°C), with a couple of rented DPA 4071s. While I was walking around the Presidents Palace Gardens, I noticed something that was fairly alarming: water was dripping from a small electricity box. I put the microphones close to where the drips were landing on the gravel and hit record…

(July 17th, 11.40 am (03:10))

Námestie slobody (Freedom square)

I spent a couple of futile evenings trying to record swifts as they fished for insects over the roofs of houses in the city centre, but was successful on my third attempt while standing in Leškova Ulica, a small street close to Námestie slobody (Freedom square).

(July 18th, 8.10 pm (04:00))

The project required me to live and record in and around the castle (!) for a week, so on Friday 19th I drove there with the audio tour script writer and her partner (they drove, I enjoyed the scenery and snoozed).

Strážky castle courtyard

The living space for SNG employees opens out on to the castle courtyard, and so I spent many evenings after a full day of recording relaxing there. On the third day I noticed a Redstart nest tucked in the beams of a doorway in the corner of the courtyard. The following is a recording of both parents as they make nest visits to tend to and feed their chicks. It should be noted that this recording is edited: the time between each parental visit was originally somewhere between 5-10 minutes.

(July 21st, 6.20 pm (08:00))

Setup: 2 DPA 4071 mics in stereo position to Tascam DR-680 (except Redstart recording to Sound Devices 788T)

Week 28
Radical road, Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh
July 14th

Anyone who has visited Edinburgh will know that walking up the Radical Road below Salisbury Crags, provides some incredible views over the city. The following recording was made at the point where the road starts to plateau; microphones were placed in a gorse bush, so you can hear the creaking and rusting of gorse needles, insects (grasshoppers?), as well as plenty of people walking past and various traffic sounds from below.

(1.15 pm (06:40))

Setup: 2 RØDE lavalier mics in stereo position to Tascam DR-680

Week 27
Wasp under glass, Edinburgh
July 6th

While transporting a wasp outdoors that had become trapped behind a window pane, I briefly set the glass I was carrying it in down and slipped a lavalier microphone under the rim of the glass.

(11.00 am (02:05))

Setup: 1 RØDE lavalier mic to Tascam DR-680