It’s been a wildly busy couple of days. The weather has been somewhat prohibitive to recording outdoors, but I managed to make a makeshift waterproof microphone and capture some fantastic rain-on-tin sounds, among other things. I did happen to take this concept of a waterproof condenser microphone a bit far, fitting one of my omni directional condenser microphones with a balloon, electrical tape, cable ties and rubber bands in the hope that I could drop it under water without destroying it. As it turns out, I destroyed it. I did get some underwater sounds in the lagoon though. All in the name of art – I really need a hydrophone!
So between bouts of rain I checked out the Lee Breakwater, popping the now-destroyed microphone down into rocks to capture the sound of water from a rock’s-ear-view. That was really interesting; also managed to get some great bird sounds (and plenty of traffic sounds from the fisher-
folk) while I was there. Alas, I did not time my visit well to get the sounds of serious boats or ships coming into or out of the port.
The image to the right shows the rocks into which I placed my microphone. I was actually hoping there’d be some crabs or something in there that would scuttle around, but I didn’t hear anything of the sort. Alas!
The other place I visited (twice, actually) and the site of the destruction of my microphone, was Fawthrop Lagoon. A beautiful, presumably (but not necessarily) man-made lake system within the town of Portland. There are huge amounts of birds and insects and other things that phonographers love;
plus the ever-present sound of traffic. I took quite a few recordings here and found it very relaxing, despite being caught in the rain both times I went there. At least I got my gear packed up in time!
In this time I went and spoke to a year 8 (I think) class at Portland Secondary, giving them an aural journey through most of my composing/sound art activities, including the recent performance from Greece, some of the jazz that I’ve written and of course, some of the electroacoustic music. They were really receptive, especially as I spoke for quite a while and I heard today that at least one student went home and talked about it – so that’s encouraging! Hopefully some of these students come to some of the workshops, but of course, everyone is invited!
The last couple of days also saw the beginning of the workshop series, with a workshop on field recording using a smart phone or tablet. It would be great to see more people come along to the ones on the weekend!
Speaking of, I just today finished writing the presentations for this weekend’s selection of four workshops. These are all FREE. I really must reinforce this: FREE workshops on all manner of things to do with sound art and sound design and music. The workshops are aimed at teenagers+, but beginners and will include brief overviews of the relevant subjects/histories where applicable. These are all very hands-on, though a little left-of-centre in some cases, but I promise good times! Below is a brief overview of the workshops, but don’t forget to click here for the full list, including requirements. These are all held at the Portland Library in the Training Room.
Workshop #2 (Saturday 26/10, 10am)
This workshop is all about listening, it’s part 1 of 2 on the subject and will culminate in an active sound walk within close proximity to the library in which it takes place. No experience necessary! Just come along with open ears and get involved in appreciating the sonic world we live in.
Workshop #3 (Saturday 26/10, 12:30pm)
Following on from workshop #2, this time we will be looking at ways of keeping a recording of what we hear over a period of time, to increase awareness of the environment and depth of our listening ability. It will also serve as a very basic introduction to some of the content in workshop #4! Bring pens and paper and a very open set of ears!
Workshop #4 (Sunday 27/10, 10am)
This is starting to get into more creative and experimental territory, but is very much reflective of the work I’m doing for the Upwelling Festival itself, so if you want to get a practical insight into Heard/Unheard:Flux then definitely come along. You’ll need a laptop with the trial version of Ableton Live installed on it (link in the workshop program).
Workshop #5 (Sunday 27/10, 1pm)
The final workshop pre-festival is getting into synthesiser land, and explores the basic use of a graphical programming environment to create a synthesiser. The workshop is a practical, hands-on exercise in sound design using the world’s most fundamental sound materials – individual wave forms! Sound complicated? Trust me, it’s really not. You’ll need to bring a laptop with Pure Data installed (http://www.pure-data.info), optional headphones (BUT THEY COME WITH A WARNING), and an open set of ears and eyes.
Don’t be intimidated, it’s really quite simple to get this software to work!
Until next time…