Both analogue tape-based, and earlier digital recorders in the form of minidiscs which use the ATRAC recording algorithm, have their own pleasing character, or colour; unlike the sterile sound produced by modern high resolution digital recorders.
The HHB Portadisc DP 500 Professional MiniDisc Recorder is one such recorder still be using by The Field Recordist to capture this more characterful ATRAC sound.
Field recording bees in an oilseed rape field, Norfolk, United Kingdom, 26 April 2018.
Recording equipment includes a Sound Devices SD702 two-channel audio field recorder and monopod-mounted Rode blimp suspension & windshield system containing an Audio Technica BP4025 XY stereo microphone. Sennheiser HD 25-1 II monitoring headphones.
Take yourself out of the hustle and bustle of city life, by escaping to the countryside with this album containing in excess of 6 hours of rural sounds and village life, recorded in high resolution audio.
These thirteen tracks document the true, natural soundscape to be heard within the village of Saham Hills, in the heart of rural Norfolk, United Kingdom.
Being natural soundscapes, they include what some may consider as man-made ‘noise’, so don’t be concerned if you hear passing vehicles, voices, aircraft overflights, farming activities, church bells, bird-scarers, shotguns, and strange things which go ‘bump’ in the night; those sounds are what you would have heard, had you been there at the time.
As the label suggests, these are true recordings from The Garden Seat.
We may never have been aware of Vivian Maier and her legacy of photographs, films and audio recordings which she had religiously captured over many decades, had they not been discovered just in time, following their disposal at auction from her expired self-storage rental facilities just prior to her death. For those unaware, it’s an interesting, some may say puzzling, yet sad story, which is best explained by the following documentary film.
My own interest in this centres around the similar possible fate of my own collection of field recordings, but without the luck of some last minute reprieve as was the case with Vivian Maier’s collection. The high probability of this happening has provided a wake-up call for me to think again about the future destiny of my own recordings, with its many frustrations and problems associated with the long-term storage of digital media.
Fortunately Vivian Maier’s story has provided me with a clue to a much better method of ensuring long-term survivability, than exists at present, with what I would term pure digital media (digital files stored on HDDs), particularly in the case of field recordings.
I believe the major contributing factor for the discovery and subsequent survival of Vivian Maier’s collection, was the fact that her collection were comprised of recognisable, tangible items, in the form of reels of film, albeit the majority of which were never developed, or saw the light of day as prints.
However, unlike Vivian Maier’s collection, the majority of my own field recordings exist only as digital files, stored unseen within various hard disk drives. Anyone discovering these drives at some future date, may probably be tempted to view the contents and may possibly recognise the contents as audio files, only to discard them later, as either finding them unplayable on their particular system, or if playable, will be discouraged to show further interest in them due to their unsatisfying single channel mono sound.
Additionally, the majority of my several thousand field recordings are stored in various multi-channel formats, dependant upon the microphone array used at the time of capture, so without the detailed recording logs and suitable audio recording knowledge, it would prove difficult to reconstruct the final files for mix-down and mastering to a listenable format, making their future survivability even more unlikely.
As an aside to this, there are currently mixed views expressed as to the manner in which Vivian Maier’s photographs are being printed and displayed, which incidentally, is the photographer’s equivalent of the field recordist’s mastering, but that’s another story.
After much time spent agonising as to the best approach to take: I have decided not to stick with pure digital storage, in the knowledge of its somewhat fragile, ephemeral existence, but to adopt an alternative method which incorporates that major contributing factor previously mentioned, which helped Vivian Maier’s collection survive; that of recognisable, tangible items. I will call it a quasi-digital form, with a hint of tangibility.
With this in mind, many months of my time will be spent sitting down, editing my recordings into a listenable format, which can then be transferred to what are instantly recognisable and tangible objects, in the form of the CD/DVD/BD.
Some may well say, but they’re outdated and have a short lifespan, due to rot, scratches etc., but from my own experience this is not the case, they are more robust than many make them out to be. Most importantly, they are common tangible items, instantly recognisable and associated with the playback of sound and with the many millions of disc players in circulation their playability is ensured for many decades to come.
However, there is a slight catch to this method, as some readers may have realised that several thousand audio recordings, many of which have tracks in excess of 4 hours duration, will require a large number of CDs/DVDs/BDs. That is true for uncompressed audio, such as WAV files, which most of mine are, but by compressing them to a lower but reasonable quality audio, the number can be greatly reduced.
Herein lies the catch; they are only there for their form factor as instantly recognisable, tangible objects, merely to encourage interest and hopefully prompt further investigation and enable recognition by association with the contents of the original data files and associated recording logs held on other archival quality data discs, or if still operational, within the HDDs.
Some progress has been made to date, with all original recordings up to the start of 2017 being successfully stored as audio data files on Verbatim lifetime archival quality BDXL 100GB M-Discs.
Unfortunately, I have to keep reminding myself, no more field recording until after the existing ones have been mixed-down and mastered, that’s a bitter pill to swallow for me!
I am extremely grateful to Vivian Maier, for unwittingly teaching me something, which I only wish she had done herself, and that is, do not just keep taking photographs (in my case, field recordings), but print them out as well!
This film captures the changing audio and visual landscape of a typical arable field as it is being farmed, within the county of Norfolk, UK. during the period June 2016 – June 2017.
All natural field recording tracks.
Welcome to the Gallery!
Either stay here to enjoy interesting audio-related topics, or follow the links for a more complete audio-visual experience in film with natural field recording sound tracks.
For the best listener experience, just put on some headphones, sit back, and simply enjoy the experience of being at the location recorded.
Please be aware that certain content of this blog may be available for a limited time only, as many of the recordings and films are scheduled for inclusion within a privately funded archive, which may affect their usage rights.
Recorded at Saham Hills, Norfolk, England. UK. ‘Saham Hills Unleashed’ is a 3-track album of natural field recordings carried out between 23:11hrs 31 December 2016 and 00:10hrs 01 January 2017.
The 3no. tracks capture an amazing diversity of sound to be heard from Saham Hills, which includes not only the more distant and heart-warming ‘mellow’ sound of church bells wafting in on the gusty breeze, as bell ringers work hard to tame the 6 bells within St. George’s Church at Saham Toney, but also a sonic assault from the immediate neighbourhood as New Years Eve celebrations get under way. Party and firework celebrations can also be heard from afar, as the surrounding villages and particularly the market town of Watton appear to jump-start the New Year celebrations.
WARNING ********** Listener discretion advised. Do not be deceived by the quieter passages within the tracks, as there are some sudden, unexpected, and seriously loud events!!
A short piece of experimental music which I composed in October 2010 from electromagnetic wave radiations, emitted by various electronic equipment, including:-
BT Broadband Home Hub
Flat Screen Television
Sony Hi-MD Mini Disc Recorder MZRH1
The description entry for one of the tracks used in the composition initially puzzled me, but whilst listening to the track my memory immediately confirmed that the description was in fact correct as shown ‘Sony MZRH1 recorder, recording itself, recording itself ‘ ….and no it’s not a typo of the entry, which initially made me think otherwise.
All rumbles, clicks, clonks and whistles were recorded with a telephone pick-up coil fed direct to a Sony MZRH1 Hi-MD Recorder, which were then processed and edited into this piece.
‘Village Sounds’ is a mid-side stereo field recording captured at approximately 8:00pm on 07 June 2016 in Saham Hills, a typical English village situated in the heart of rural Norfolk, United Kingdom.
This natural field recording includes the sound of wild birds, the distant sound of Saham Toney church bells, the sound of a local handyman, the distant sound of gunfire from a military training area, and all other elements of ambient sound to be heard at that particular time and location.
This rare juxtaposition of sound was heard emanating from two sources, Saham Toney Church bell ringing practice situated approximately 1mile away and a military training exercise taking place on Stanford Military Training Area with heavy field artillery, machine guns and helicopters, situated beyond the church approximately 8 miles away.
Field recording captured on the evening of 06 October 2015.