Thursday, 14 May 2020

Soundmap

I was fortunate to receive some funding from the Kaleider Kfund and have been working on a project that uses audio recordings to create a new piece.

My original intention was to create a music machine piece from some audio recordings made whilst we have been in lockdown. This was partly inspired by the Silent Cities project that has asked people to record the sound of their cities during the lockdown. It's described as 'a participatory monitoring programme of an exceptional modification of urban soundscapes during Covid-19 containment'. A similar project that I have contributed to is Pete Stollery's sound map which aims to capture sonic environments which have changed as a result of governments’ actions around the world to curb the spread of the virus.


As with all projects that have a relatively vague starting point the project has changed a little since I started it. I decided that rather than use recordings from my local neighbourhood that I would take my recorder with me when I went on my daily exercise (either walk or cycle). I have now made a soundmap that shows the locations where I have made recordings and it will play those recordings when the marker is clicked. It can be found here:


or via this shortened link: bit.ly/3fNbClY.


The orange markers are the sites where I have made recordings. You can hear a lot of birdsong, which is not too surprising considering some of the locations. There is very little human noise; some cars and motorbikes but no conversation. The two recordings that have interested me most are recording 3 and recording 5. Recording 3 was made in a location very close to both the airport and the A30. There is, of course, no aeroplane noise and the traffic is much quieter then usual. Recording 5 was made in very windy conditions, some of which you can hear. The recorder was placed near to a metal gate and, at around 3.38 in, you can hear the gate 'whistling'.

I have written some new software that will manipulate these recordings and then play them back. The machine will edit the full length audio clips into many shorter ones and will add a fade in or fade out to them as well. Once this processing is complete the machine will start playing back the audio files at random times and volumes to create a new soundscape. This piece will change as I add new recordings. The most up to date version can be found by clicking the blue marker (numbered 0) in the centre of Exeter.

I plan to make this project encompass a period of around ten days. It will be interesting to hear how the sound changes as the rules around lockdown are relaxed. In common with many people I have noticed how much I can hear the birds at present and how little traffic there is.



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