Interest in the sound recording of natural and human environments has grown rapidly in the last few years. Described in various ways: location, field, natural, wild etc., these recordings can be put to a multitude of uses including film, television, radio, art installations, web and CD releases, video game soundtracks, as part of musical compositions and so on. Although we often think of these art forms as primarily visual, in fact the sound track often plays a dominant role in the viewer/user's experience. Learning to create original and effective sound tracks is a crucial and major part of many creative processes. New digital equipment makes recording and editing sound more accessible to many non-specialists, but also requires skill and experience in order to get the most out of it.
Who is this for? This five-day course aims to teach you the skills necessary to produce superb field recordings that can be used in a wide range of different media projects, and will give you hands-on experience with some of the latest equipment. The course is suitable for film-makers, sound recordists, radio producers, audio artists, musicians and video game designers, both professional and amateur.
About the trainers: Taught by Chris Watson, one of the world's outstanding field recordists, whose work ranges from CDs released in his own name to the soundtracks of countless BBC wildlife films, and by audio specialist Jez riley French.
Who can apply? This is a free Honeycomb programme, award recipients must be located within the following territories: Western seaboard of Scotland – Lochaber; Skye & Lochalsh; Arran Cumbrae; Argyll & Bute; East Ayrshire & North Ayrshire Mainland; South Ayrshire; Dumfries & Galloway; NI, excluding greater Belfast; Six border counties of the Republic of Ireland – Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.
Deadline for Applications: Please email email@example.com by Friday 9th January, please title your email – Sound Module application request.
This episode is the first of a five episode “Sonic Season” of improvisation and sonic arts shows.
The life of the field recording artist explored in conversation with Jez riley French.
Independence and integrity of artistic practice are strong themes with the globetrotting Yorkshire-man whose DIY JrF contact microphones have become something of an industry standard tool among sound artists.
We discuss community, microphones and recording equipment including geophones, hydrophones and contact microphones as well as vibrating staircases and the “Stairway to Heaven” of the field recording world.
This podcast features some original recordings made during a weekend workshop led by Jez as well as audio from his own archive material.
nice to be asked to write something for issue 3 of 'Reflections on Process in Sound' & some of my daughters (www.pheoberileylaw.yolasite.com/) photo's are also included.
Issue 3 of "Reflections on Process in Sound" is online now: Viv Corringham gives an account of how her ongoing series Shadow-walks came about, as an amalgam of singing and walking; Riley Frenchconsiders three specific trips he took this year to record telefericas, geological dissolves and other fascinations in Italy and Iceland; Felicity Ford explores how wool and sound come together for her in her project KNITSONIK, with some excursions into feminist concerns; Michelle Lewis-King explains how and why her Pulse Project blends accupuncture with sound; Jo Joseph Hyde considers his take on visual music; Rob MacKay discusses the parameters of the world’s first concert for artificial and human voices.
following the announcement of the 2015 Iceland field recording trip / course (which was fully booked within 2 days) i've also been working hard on planning a new course for Wildeye - this time we venture further afield here in the UK:
Sound Recording in Northumberland with Chris Watson and Jez riley French
This long weekend field meeting is an opportunity to practice and develop sound recording skills in the company of Chris Watson in his home patch of Northumberland. Audio specialist and artist Jez riley French will also be present throughout to share his experience, particularly with the use of extended field recording techniques including the use of non-conventional equipment such as hydrophones and contact microphones.
The base location is Mounthooley bunkhouse in College valley, Northumberland, UK. Accommodation is shared bunk rooms.The College valley is in one of the remotest and quietest parts of England. It’s north of Hadrian’s Wall in the wild lands once controlled by the Border Reivers.
In the Cheviot Hills and close to the Scottish border this a wonderful location for wildlife sound recording, around here there are many upland birds, roe deer, red squirrels and the possibility of feral goats. This is a great location for recording individual featured species and spatial soundscapes.
The long weekend will include a day trip, arranged around the tides, across to the island of Lindisfarne and the coast where Chris recorded this the CD In St Cuthbert's Time.
This trip is particularly aimed at those who have already taken our Wildlife Sound Recording Course and who want furrther guided experience in the field (but this is not a prerequisite). It is expected that you will bring your own recording equipment, although there will be additional kit you can borrow from the tutors during the trip.Some hill walking so stout shoes required and wet weather gear.
Friday: Arrive at Mounthooley from 3pm but please aim to arrive by 6pm. 7pm - evening meal served. 8pm - introductory chat - who we are, who you are, and what we will be doing over the next two days.
Saturday and Sunday: Practical sound recording activities at various locations and listening/reviewing sessions back at base. Breakfasts and evening meals will be provided at Mounthooley.
Areas of local interest:Weetwood Moor cup and ring marks Great place to begin an exploration of the many remains left by our ancient ancestors to keep us guessing about their daily activities and unknown rituals. This can be followed by a walk up one of the many hill forts in North Northumberland such as close by Yeavering Bell, home of the famous feral goats. Henhole A short walk from the bunkhouse this is a great glacial hanging valley of waterfalls cutting through the Cheviot granite. Holy Island Weather permitting we’ll take one day to explore as far as Lindisfarne / Holy Island - Home of many seaside walks, ducks, seabirds, religious figures, mead and scriptures.
Monday: After breakfast depart the venue.....you can of course then head straight home or spend the day exploring Northumberland further.
Chris Watson - Sound RecordingTutor - Chris is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planet productions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound. Chris’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops. His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. See www.chriswatson.net
Jez riley French - Sound Recording Tutor - Jez is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening. Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics (http://hydrophones.blogspot.com). In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.http://jezrileyfrench.co.uk
Costs: £375 per person This includes tuition, 3 nights accommodation, breakfasts and evening meals. Lunches are available from Mounthooley for £4.50 or self-catering.. Note that transport during this trip will be in cars of the tutors and attendees, so it is hoped that enough of you will be coming in cars and be happy to offer lifts to others durting the trip to facilitate this. The longest trip however is expected to be to Lindisfarne which is only 40 mins drive. When you book please mention if you will coming by car and if you are happy to offer lifts to those who are not.College valley is remote and it has restricted access to cars (but ok for us staying there).
Following our previous highly popular sound recording trips to Iceland in 2013 and 2014, for 2015 we’re returning to this fascinating country, this time to the Selfoss region in the South for an opportunity to spend several days recording the sounds of spring in 24 hour daylight with Chris Watson, a leading figure in the world of wildlife sound recording, and field recordist and artist Jez riley French.
Our base will be Hotel Borealis, close to the largest lake in Iceland, Pingvallavatn, and surrounded by stunning locations including the Pingvallir national park and volcanic rift, the Gulfoss waterfall and the famous Geysir geothermal area. Further afield is the moon-like landscape around the geothermal vents of Krysuvik. We’re also within a couple of hours of the South coast, with its numerous black sand beaches and the fishing villages of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, with its surrounding swamp-like waterways. June in Iceland is a time of 24 hour daylight - so we’ll have lots of time for recording, exploring, discussing and, occasionally, sleeping ... We’re booking all rooms in the main hotel and two separate bungalow style buildings and as well as the friendly hotel staff there will be a French chef (who has lived in Iceland for over 30 years and is an expert in both French and Icelandic cuisine) and two minibuses to allow us the greatest flexibility for recording trips. The range of spectacular habitats will enable us to experiment with surround sound techniques, ambisonic microphones & software, hydrophones, contact mics, geophones, ultrasonic detectors, parabolic systems and a range of stereo and mono recordings. We will also have genelec speakers at our base for reviewing recordings and group discussions. It is expected that you will have some recording experience and your own equipment to bring (although we will have some extra gear with us that everyone is welcome to try). Some of the many wildlife species we may encounter include: red throated diver, whooper swan, atlantic puffin, himbrimi, arctic fox, arctic terns, whimbrel, golden plovers... whilst we’ll also be hunting for fence wires, bubbling mud pools, abandoned structures, melting ice and spaces with unique natural acoustics.
Accommodation is in private rooms with wi-fi. Most of the rooms are in the main hotel (which we are booking in full) and each room has its own bathroom. Three rooms will be in 2 separate bungalows (each with one bathroom). Breakfasts and two course evening meals are included.
In an interview with Chris Watson in Music Tech magazine (Dec 2012 issue) when asked his favourite place to record Chris said: 'Iceland ! it's a beautiful place, with great people and great culture. What's more, it's relatively noise-poluution free. It's where fire and ice meet, of course, so there's great sound potential there.'
Day 1: Travel from Reykjavik to Selfoss - an approximate 2-3 hour drive in our two minibuses. We’ll break the journey for a rest and also to call at a supermarket for basic extra supplies. We aim to arrive no later than 6pm, in time for an evening meal and to settle in.
Day 2-7: Recording activities - places we are likely to visit include:
Krysuvik region, inc. geothermal vents and Graenavatn lake each day will also include a chance to listen to recordings, ask questions, hold informal discussions, share knowledge....and some time to relax
Day 8: Depart. We will set off early, after breakfast, for our return drive to Reykjavik, perhaps taking in one last stop along the way. We will aim to arrive in Reykjavik in the early evening. Personnel
Chris Watson is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planetproductions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound. Watson’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops.
His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. See www.chriswatson.net
Jez riley French is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening. Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics (http://hydrophones.blogspot.com). In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.http://jezrileyfrench.co.uk
Visas: Please check if you need a visa to enter Iceland (holders of normal British 'European Community' passports do not need one).
Insurance: It is essential you take out comprehensive travel insurance. Whichever insurance you choose please ensure it provides adequate cover for both you personally and also for any equipment you may be bringing with you.
Dates: 9-16 June 2015
Costs: UK£1,595.00 plus international flight to Reykjavik (which you book yourself - recommendations will be sent on booking). You may have to/wish to arrive a day or so early due to flight times, so you should also budget for accommodation to cover this.
Includes activities, local travel, accommodation and breakfast/evening meal each day.
Booking: If the home page shows that there are places available please complete the online application formand send in your deposit/fee as detailed. Booking requires a deposit of £200, the balance to be paid two months before the start of the trip. Places are strictly limited so early booking is recommended (as is the booking of flights).
using specially adapted JrF contact mics - strung with wires - these two recordings made in Italy capture the sound of different species of ant consuming fruit. The first (a section of which formed part of the piece 'resonances di topoolo') is what remains of an original 4 hour recording of ants eating an apricot. The second captures a more subtle event - with a smaller number of ants eating a strawberry.
with Jez Riley French, Chris Watson, Julia Holter, Jana Winderen, Signe Liden, Dawn Scarfe, Kiyoshi Mizutani, Sawako, Ames JN Newton, Embla Quickbeam, Fiona Sally Miller, Peter Toll, Anne Guthrie & more....
leigh woods sits on the south bank of the avon gorge on the edges of bristol - one of those liminal spaces that we perceive according to our subjective ideals - a small piece of nature where we might find some calm, both in terms of sound and sensation.
‘an english woodland is a place of contemplation, wherein ones most obvious companions are the birds, trees and ones preoccupations alone’in fact, as the lens of field recording shows, there is a cacophony of sound that, closely observed, allows us to form a more rounded view of locale and our impact on it. In this way, when the question is asked ‘what is the sound of leigh woods ?’ the first responses could be birdsong, the rustle of leaves in the breeze, children playing and climbing etc. However, if a single sound dominates the woods it is the constant sound of traffic on the A4 below. Perhaps, as listening becomes a more diverse and enacted choice with a wider potential than mere hearing, we will begin to take stock of whether our understanding of nature and countryside is or ever was based on a stable reality.over the course of the year I visited leigh woods there seemed an invisible barrier between myself and the locale. Eventually I gathered around 40 recordings that represented various aspects of the woods and that communicated something of its position. A selection of these were used in a three sectioned commission exploring the contemporary and historical use of the woods.this release uses some of the field recordings to form the two ‘a quiet position’ pieces, which can be listened to anywhere, including as you sit in or walk through leigh woods, if you happen to visit. Also included are some of the individual recordings and a map showing the locations. commissioned by: National Trust / Trust New Art Bristol / MAYK
recordings of architectural acoustics, locales filtered through buildings
recorded with JrF contact microphones, geophones and conventional microphones
sections of the work were exhibited at Continuo Associazione Culturale gallery, Udine , Italy
'room tone' comes amidst a sustained and intense period of creativity for Jez riley French....the subtlety, the fantastical attention to listening and bringing new aural experiences to his audience grows more and more obvious with each release'
'....just when you think JrF has opened your ears as wide as they can go, he reveals yet more'
'a simply stunning release....at first I can hardly hear anything other than the low throb of the geophone recordings but, as with anything of value, the more I listen the more that is revealed, not least of which is the way the sounds sit alongside ones actual surroundings, as Jez intends, without even attempting to dominate them'
lengthy negotiations, running to months then years, were needed for 2 recording sessions to take place inside the structures of the humber bridge - directly under the carriageway and in the north bank footing tower. eventually permission was granted and, for the first time, a private individual was allowed to make sounds recordings.
care was taken to choose the specific locations and the set the equipment for recording. my normal way of working is to be in the location listening and to record when the moment feels right, but on these occasions that was not possible, as only maintenance and inspection teams are allowed to stay in these restricted spaces.
so, after positioning the contact mics and conventional microphones, I pressed record and returned to the main bridge offices. 4 hours later I was escorted back to retrieve my equipment and, hopefully, 4 hours of recordings. what was actually gathered was around 1 1/2 hours of usable material and a 2 1/2 hour recording of an inspection team walking around the recording locations discussing various technical, structural details. whilst frustrating on one level, it is this kind of unplanned for situation that makes field recording a creative act rather than a mere technical exercise.
the piece presented here features two sections of the recording sessions, in 2008: firstly under the road carriageway and then in the north footing tower.
re-posting / gathering of a few short extracts from experiments with
geophones are measurement devices for monitoring seismic activity. they're not really designed for audio although some are often hooked up to audio recorders - with varying degrees of success. and so, for the past couple of years i've been experimenting with different ways to adapt the geophones to give a decent audio signal. below are some of the resulting recordings....you'll need headphones or proper speakers (not computer speakers) to hear these....
an earlier test, shortly after an initial adaptation of a single geophone - ground spike placed against the railings of the humber bridge....
you'll need headphone for this piece & the geophone recording comes in stronger towards the middle of the piece...
in this piece for tate modern, the end section was recorded using geophones placed on the floor of the turbine hall during the night....the sound we hear is the earth vibration filtered through the structure - mixed with the slight rumble of traffic and the river....a section of this recording was also exhibited at Tate Britain, pressed onto vinyl - it was quite something to watch people trying to hear the sound....
& again, you'll need headphones or speakers (not computer speakers) to hear this track properly - the geophone coming in towards the middle of the piece....
bower floor | dawn chorus with rain | canyon wires
music sits above and under the first impression.
when duration allows these things come into focus, increasingly.
in swifter moments a sense of quietude is possible.
still, finding pace with listening as a lens, moving
recorded september 2012, during time spent following a residency at The Wired Lab, this piece begins with two recordings playing at the same time. One of a bower floor, with contact microphones and geophone (nb. some of these low frequencies will not be audible via computer speakers) alongside a dawn chorus amidst light rain - drops falling centimetres from a conventional stereo microphone. Towards the middle of the piece, a further contact microphone recording enters, revealing one of the most bizarre fence wire sounds i've yet managed to gather. Despite returning to the same stretch of canyon fence several times, this particular effect was only present on one occasion and lasted for around 10 minutes. My best guess is that humidity and the rising temperature combined to create a momentary, unrepeatable and extremely evocative effect on the wires. It is this infinite and unpredictable aspect to listening in situ that continues to fascinate me. Getting closer to and underneath the surface of environments and spaces is a constant revelation, a constant pleasure.