Hebdomadal sound project: June 2013

Week 26
Domestic electricity, Edinburgh
June 29th

Using an induction coil pick-up, I recorded electrical signals produced by various objects around my house. In order of appearance: fuse box; internet router; light bulb; mobile phone; boiler; bathroom wall; printer.


Setup: induction coil pick-up to Zoom H4

Week 25
Kittiwakes, Dunbar, East Lothian
June 24th

Dunbar castle, or what remains of it, is now home each spring and summer to a large colony of nesting kittiwakes. The following was recorded from just below the colony from Dunbar harbour; a range of kittiwake vocalisations can be heard, and towards the end you can hear harbour workers not untunefully dragging metal poles along the ground.

(1.45 pm (07:30))

Setup: RØDE NT4 to Tascam DR-680

Week 24
Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute
June 11th-14th

While based on Mull, visits to Tobermory were necessary to get grocery supplies. Here’s a recording of Tobermory harbour, which predominantly caters for chartered boats carrying sea life and diving enthusiasts.

(June 11th, 10.55 am (05:30))

Next is the sound of waves breaking on the rocky coastline on the southern side of the island. This was recorded while I was standing amongst huge black volcanic rocks, which created a really wonderful resonance as the water gargled between the basalt.

(June 12th, 10.00 pm (05:00))

There was a small amount of mixed leaf deciduous woodland amongst the more prevalent conifers on the island, and sheep farming means that these tend to be found out of chewing range. The following was recorded on the edge of a small wooded area inland from Salen bay.

(June 13th, 10.30 am (05:00))

This final recording from Mull is one that I particularly enjoy. Recorded on my last morning on the island, this was recorded during really strong winds that where battering the coastal cliffs. Bar the wind, I couldn’t hear much until I hid myself behind a dry stone wall; suddenly a world of birds could be heard, including the wonderful clicking alarm call of stonechats.

(June 14th, 08.30 am (10:00))

Setup: RØDE NT4 to Tascam DR-680

Week 23
Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute
June 10th

Flying over the Sound of Kerrera to Mull

At the tail end of week 23 I set off with a few other people on a trip to the Isle of Mull. The principal means of traveling across the island, and on the mainland up towards Inverness, was a 5 seat helicopter. The following is a recording taken from inside the helicopter at the beginning of my first ride from Oban airport to the south of Mull.

((4.15 pm (08:00))

Looking down on the beach, south Mull

Next is a recording taken on a beach on the southern part of the island; the rumbling of waves is low in the mix, while the cries of oystercatchers reverberate magnificently around the rocky bay.

((6.20 pm (04:30))

More recordings from Mull next week.

Setup: 2 RØDE lavalier mics in stereo position (helicopter recording)/1 RØDE NT4 (beach recording), both to Tascam DR-680

Week 22
Funfair, The Meadows, Edinburgh
June 2nd

The skydiver

This weekend saw good weather arrive in time for the Meadows Festival, an annual event that is one of the first in a long line of summer festivals held across the city. The loudest part of the festival was the traveling funfair set up along the south flank of the Meadows. I really enjoy the volume of the (normally circa mid-to-late 1990s) techno and trance; the shouts from ride operators to get you to buy a ticket (the traditional “Roll up! Roll up!” seems to have been replaced with the faintly accusational “let’s go!”); the rattling, grinding and moaning of the rides; and of course the cries of fear/joy from punters, and the dizzying effect of all these sounds ricocheting within a small space.

The first recording was made while walking through the funfair, starting at the ‘crazy frog’ ride pictured above. This ride had the biggest lineup; I’m sure this is at least partly because the DJ had the best patter and knew exactly when to drop particular songs. Despite the loudness of any individual ride’s music system, they each attenuated pretty quickly, meaning that you get hit round the face by a different song every few metres.

((2.45 pm (07:00))

The Miami Trip

Next is a recording from behind a large ride that is familiar to me from most of the funfairs I’ve visited in the UK; a ride wonderfully named the Miami Trip (shout out to the National Fairground and Circus Archive at the University of Sheffield). It wasn’t until I got home and listened to the recording that I heard a rather ominous melody emanating from the mechanics, which reminds me of a cello phrase fit for a 1970s horror soundtrack. The sound is of a much deeper timbre to the higher ‘violin’ sound that accompanies it (you can hear the melody at 0:06-0:23, 1:51-2:20, 2:51-3:06, and 3:18-3:40).

((3.45 pm (04:00))

Lastly, a recording of the funfair from a distance of some 100 yards or so. I like how particular sounds rise and fall, for example the screams of people on the Meteorite starting just before 5:40.

((3.20 pm (07:00))

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