“The aim of this session is to give you some ‘guerilla’ hands on experience devising, recording and editing a short radiophonic ‘Sound Sculpture’ / soundscape.” – Module study guide
Sound sculpture and sound scapes.
“A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. ” – The free encyclopaedia, Wikipedia
These can include environment sounds such as natural, mechanical and animal. The purpose of most sound scapes is to capture the essence of an environment through sound. A sound scape can also consist of recorded audio with dramatised visuals.
“Sound sculpture (related to sound art and sound installation) is an intermedia and time based art form in which sculpture or any kind of art object produces sound, or the reverse (in the sense that sound is manipulated in such a way as to create a sculptural as opposed to temporal form or mass).” – The free encyclopaedia, Wikipedia
Researching sound scapes
In order to get a good idea of what I wanted to produce for my sound sculpture/ Sound scape, I did some research on line to find interesting and immersive sound scapes.
I stumbled across a channel on YouTube dedicated to Sound sculpture and went through some of the videos getting a clearer idea of what kinds of things would be appropriate for my field recording task.
Here is one of the Soundscapes I came across on that channel (Soundsculptures – YouTube)
Most of the videos from this channel are very simple and recorded with turned up high definition audio which is used to capture more subtle noise such as typing and folding paper.
These are successful because there is little to no noise pollution in them (including feedback or human coughing/sneezing) and the visuals are steady (with the camera on a tripod) .
I also realised that I regularly use soundscapes to help me fall asleep, here is an example of one soundscape that I listen to often:
There is something particularly relaxing about listening to natural environment sounds, which is why they are popular for sleep aid CD’s. In this recording it is possible to hear a number of different birds as well as falling rain and rustling leaves, the rain comes in softly and grows steadily heavier with some occasional thunder at which point the birds begin to quiet down, and then becomes softer again. I definitely want to create a similar soundscape in my field recording task by filming outdoors.
Recording, Environment and soundscape Composition
In a sound sculpture/soundscape it is acceptable to either record the sound and visuals at the same time and place on a video recorder, or alternatively to record the soundscape and to produce relevant visuals to go alongside it. I decided for my soundscape that I wanted to take some influence from the videos I had been researching and simply record the sound and video of one place and keep that combination as the final piece. I want to record a steady static image of the surroundings while recording the audio to acheive simplicity and appreciate the natural, animal and mechanical sounds and scenery as they are.
An anecdotal composition would include a short narrative of the soundscape for the purpose of getting a point or ideas across.
Mimesis and imitation
It would also be acceptable to create a soundscape with sounds that imitate a certain environment, this could also be an interesting future soundscape project.
One thing which may interrupt recording and lower the quality of my soundscapes is noise / noise pollution. This could be caused by a number of things including recording equipment feedback and sounds which do not fit with the environment I am focussing on, such as traffic sounds if I attempt to record a nature soundscape, or human breathing behind the camera.
Sound scape 1 (Garden soundscape)
The first soundscape I produced was in my back garden, in this sound scape you can hear the wind blowing and rustling the leaves (as well as seeing this on the screen). This creates some noise as it blows into the camera, but not enough for me to want to discard the footage, as my camera isn’t the best quality and although I did want wind sounds in my environment, it would not be possible to capture them at a better quality.
I went out just before the sun began to set on a relatively sunny day to ensure there was plenty of birdsong, which I feel is an important part of this environment.
An aeroplane also flew overhead during my recording, and I wasn’t sure if I should count this as noise pollution at first, but then decided that the sound of aeroplanes flying over my garden is relatively frequent (perhaps five times a day) and being that they don’t fly very low, the sound is quite homely to me when I am sitting outside and I decided to keep this recording as I feel it accurately depicts the emotions attached to this environment for me personally.
Sound scape 2 (Rabbit home)
This soundscape is much simpler than the first, I decided since sound scapes can include natural, mechanical and animal sounds, that I would film my pet rabbit in her home. She doesn’t make a lot of noise most of the time as rabbits don’t squeak or bark for attention the way guinea pigs or dogs will, so I filmed her eating one of her snacks. She crunches very loudly and this can be heard regularly in my room where her cage is located.
Sound scape (Utility room)
My final soundscape was a filming of my utility room.
As I live with my family in a house of five people and two dogs, there is generally a fair amount of noise going on in the home. I wanted to film a room that would emphasise the presence of people without including human voices, and decided the best room to film would be the utility room. There are constantly clothes being washed or dried in here, producing a constant mechanical sound from this room even when the rest of my family are asleep or at school/work. I also find these sounds quite comforting as they are constant and usually drowned out as background noise, but become very noticeable once all the sounds caused by people and televisions/computers are stopped.
References: See bibliography [click here]