Week 5

Again, this score requires a portable recording device and multi-track sound editing software. If either of these requirements poses a challenge, just contact me for Fionnuala’s alternative “low-tech” variation!

Bringing It All Back

Week 5 score by Fionnuala Conway

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10 Responses to Week 5

  1. DavidH says:

    I am about to ordr a recording device. Who has good or bad experiences with which machine? I know about the small and big sony (seems both to be good, but the big one is expensive like hell), zoom (small and big. both seems shit), tascam (again small and big. heard mixed stories), olympus (didnt hear anything about this)…


  2. Fionnuala says:

    Hi David

    I, and a lot of people I know, use the Zoom H4N. In fact, I work with a lot of audio engineers (the academic and industry kind) and they recommend it to students for price and quality. Fionnuala

  3. Fionnuala says:

    The weather here is quite cold at the moment, and while I had imagined a nearby park, I ended up deciding on my back garden. It’s quite a big open space. So, I wrapped up and went out. I enjoyed the meditation at the beginning and opportunity to listen to the space. I live a bit from a main road but could hear the sounds of traffic far away in the distance. The sound of neighbours nearby was quite nice as in some house they were having a right laugh at something, which made me smile.

    Part 1:

    The breathing exercise in Recording 1 was very settling and I felt that I started noticing sounds that otherwise I might not. The breathing settles the mind and can help me tune in. I was conscious when doing the recording that the breathing was being captured.

    For Recording 2, I must say that my mind was a little all over the place. I was trying to identify sounds from the body and sounds outside the body. I found I relied a lot on my imagination here, to vocalise sounds that I ‘thought’ might be happening.

    For Recording 3, I found that at first I couldn’t hear anything that was within a 12-foot radius. Everything seemed to be far away. And then I noticed a bird singing – beautiful and melodic. A magpie with its ‘football-match-clatter’. 2 pigeons went soaring over my head from left to right. Wonderful sounds to try to vocalise and mimic and perform with.

    Recording 4 allowed me to focus on the traffic in the distance and lots of swish and grumble sounds were coming. Then helicopter appeared. I knew that the recording was going on far longer than the suggested 2 minutes but kept going. It was interesting noticing that the pitch of the helicopter dropped and I found that my vocal range wouldn’t go any lower when vocalising it.

    I’m glad I stayed in quite a private space as I think I would have been quite self-conscious in a public space. This space allowed me to go further in the performance, a challenge for myself.

    Part 2:
    I went through each recording, topping and tailing and editing the parts where I could be heard turning on and off the audio recorder. As my Recording 4 had gone on longer than expected, the suggested construction of the recordings was adhered to for the most part, but gently nudged at times.

    Part 3:
    I took the piece and headphones to my living room quite soon after doing the recording and editing. I will have a listen to it again later, when it’s dark, to see what I think. My first thought when listening back was that I could hear far more detail on the recording than I did when in the space. This was wonderful and enriched my memory of the space and performance. I liked the layered sections (multi-track parts of the piece) as I found some really interesting rhythms and textures being created through the interaction of different recordings. The vocal sounds were quite varied when placed on top of each other and suggested new soundscape possibilities to me.

  4. stephanie says:

    The game of mimicking environmental sounds with ones body as an instrument is one that I really enjoy playing…

    I sat on the front steps of my apartment. I used my trusty terrible iPhone recorder. As I began to make the recordings, at first I couldn’t decide what “what smile in my mind” should mean, so decided to interpret it as an inward feeling of friendliness to the sounds I was hearing.

    The sounds I chose to respond to were my breathing, the rustling of the wind (through branches, garbage and plastic bags) and an ambulance siren.

    While “performing” — especially in Recording 4 in which I was “sang” fairly piercingly with the sirens as neighbors passed by – I felt nicely liberated by the score from my own sense of social/public propriety. I also felt like a young bird, trying to mimic the calls of the strange siren-birds … it felt very sweet.

    Listening back to the assembled recordings, I definitely smiled (in my mind and on my face), at my silly sound-making. I wished my recordings weren’t so compressed and crunchy, that my recorded sounds were richer (good binaural recordings would have been great!) I also noticed the gender-ambiguous pitch of my breath sounds.

    In addition to the pleasure of the outdoor performance, I appreciated the piece as an exercise in indeterminate composition. I enjoyed the shifts from building density to still and quiet. I wondered what ideas you used to make the structural decisions that shape the score…

    Here is what I wound up with: http://soundcloud.com/stepifany/week5-1/s-ClNcv

  5. margaret schedel says:

    I was reallllly surprised by how my conception of 2 minutes changed over the course of this exercise.

    I started about 45 sec. and ended at about 6 minutes!

    I also noted that I was aware of what I wanted to do “next” instead of being simply in the moment.

  6. i had a very enjoyable recording session last week, wednesday (also in my back yard), but then, when i listened to the sounds that were (not) picked up by the mic (plugged into my laptop – i thought it was doing better than that) iow lots of static and almost no environmental sounds, i got very annoyed and stashed things away until now. good to read the advice about recording devices, because i think it is time to invest in something portable and easy!

    i was sitting on the iron bench on a wooden platform in our backyard. we have a big pine tree in the corner. two doves/pigeons nestle there every year, building very bad nests, from which usually at least one egg falls.

    the long out-breaths calmed me. i also use my breath to ‘time’ things, which often is distracting (i start counting silently… pffff)

    Recording 1
    there were a surprising number of bird calls as it was a relatively sunny day. my inner smile became even bigger. sounds of neighbors opening doors or moving about. cars starting or driving by on neighborhood streets. fluttering wings of moving birds (in the tree). the traffic from a freeway a couple of miles away.
    recording was 1 1/2 minutes. hmmmmm….

    my behind was starting to protest against the cold iron bench without cushions. i would check every time with it: are you still comfortable? no. but i was too lazy to get a cushion.

    Recording 2
    the sounds of my swallowing – a gulp at relatively regular intervals was what struck me. i made large gulping sounds every time the urge came up.
    Recording 3
    the fluttering of the birds in the nearby tree was what caught my attention. it happened a few times. i fluttered along with it/them.
    Recording 4
    the sounds of the distant traffic were the most obvious. drifting, humming, zooming, fading, increasing… i created the sound or the sense of the sound in the back of my mouth and head.

    i enjoyed the peace, the inner smile, the expanding sense of self/environment/listening.

    thanks! now i go to see if i can clean up the recordings anyway 😉

  7. Linda O Keeffe says:

    Hi hi, I really found this difficult, I have gotten so inhibited lately, spending too much time in an office. However once I got over myself I was humming away and making all manner of strange sounds. This was probably unusual for the people who were sitting beside me (I was on a park bench in Dublin city). What was most rewarding was listening back, I thought I would hear what I heard there. But the mix of sounds that I wasn’t aware of and the vocal sounds I was making sounded really interesting. I have actually listened to this piece a few times…

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