Lake Michigan recording, Milwaukee, WI, USA 2006 (photo: Rob Danielson)
THE ART OF FIELD RECORDING: OVERVIEW
Field recording, or phonography, is the art of recording sounds as they are found in situ, rather than those created in a studio or concert hall. There are as many ways of approaching field recording as there are field recordists, with interests ranging from recordings of natural or urban environments to improvised situations or soundwalks to the resonance of solid objects or the Earth’s atmosphere.
This workshop introduces concepts currently affecting the areas of sound recording, sonic arts, installation, architecture and sound design, using environmental recordings as the basis for discussion and praxis. This workshop has been successful with students of music composition, cinema, architecture, game design, new media, anthropology and visual arts in providing an entry-point to the study and use of soundscapes in these various practices.
Reverberation Viaduct sketch by Silver Liiberg, from workshop with Architecture Dept, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn 2011
OBJECTIVES: SOUND + SPACE AWARENESS
1) To learn how to listen to a given soundscape without any preparatory information (visual, verbal, text…) and pick out the relevant features and information in it (the “art of listening”, or what Pauline Oliveros calls “deep listening”).
2) To learn how to use field recording equipment and techniques in combination with this heightened sense of hearing-awareness to capture the features and information we hear (the “art of field recording”).
3) To learn how to present these soundscapes to others as environments, compositions or in other forms (drawings, text etc).
Sound Workshop Project (detail) by Artur Stashkevitsh, from workshop with Architecture Dept, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn 2011
The first step for anyone wishing to work with sound is learning how to listen. We will spend the first day listening to a selection of field recordings and discussing them in terms of the information they transmit about the time and place in which they were made, and the kinds of sonic effects they have on the listener.
The first session of this workshop also provides a theoretical introduction to the various microphone techniques and recording strategies used for field recording, as well as special tools which allow phenomenon such as physical motion, electromagnetic waves and light can also be converted into sound.
Further sessions consist of a critical listening session of recorded sounds brought by the participants. Key concepts to be explored include musical and cinematic metaphors of sound, composing the cityscape and communicating senses of place and space through sound. Final projects have included musical compositions, multichannel sound installations, architectural drawings and sculptural models.
One option for the workshop is an extra session basic post-production work such as editing and mastering, using the free and open source Digital Audio Workstation Ardour.
While the instructor can provide one shared recorder and microphone, participants should bring their own recording equipment when possible unless the hosting institution can provide this. Low-cost binaural microphone kits can be made available for purchase (EUR 35 each) as well, please get in touch ahead of time if you would like a pair reserved for you.
You can listen to a radio interview about one instance of this workshop, in Marfa, TX, USA, here:
FURTHER READING/CLASS TEXTS
Jean Francois Augoyard: Sonic Experience–A Guide to Everyday Sounds
Barry Truax: Handbook of Acoustic Ecology, available completely online
Anne Kockelkorn, Doris Kleilein, Gesine Pagels & Carsten Stabenow: Tuned City – between sound- and space speculation
Barry Blesser & Linda Salter: Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?
R. Murray Schafer: The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World
Bonfire Recording, Almere NL 2009, photo by Kees van Mansom(km-fotografie.nl)
Jan – Learning to Listen, Marfa Book Company, Marfa TX, USA
Mar – Art of Field Recording, RISEBA, Riga, LV
Nov – Sound Marathon, Studio Olafur Eliasson/UDK, Berlin, DE
Oct – sound+space awareness, Aarhus University, DK
May – Field Recording, Carleton College/IES Berlin, Berlin DE
Apr – Sound+Space Awareness, Tuned City/Give Me 5, Nuremberg DE
Feb – Tuned City:sound+space, Estonian Academy of Arts Architecture Dept, Tallinn EE
Feb – Field Recording, Royal Music Conservatory, Aarhus DK
Jan – Tuned City: sound+space, Estonian Academy of Arts Media Dept, Tallinn EE
Jun – Field Recording, Klanglabor KHM, Cologne DE
May – Field Recording [w/ J.Grzinich & P.McGinley], Tuned City, Tallinn EE
May – Field Recording, Harvestworks, New York City NY USA
Dec – Tuned City: Sound+Architecture, Klanglabor KHM, Cologne DE
Aug – Field Recording, De Paviljeons, Almere, NL