In line with my intentions to had more meetups organised, I’m happy to say that Raoul Brand got in touch with me recently, with a great idea for the next recording trip. I’ll let him explain:
“Over the last few weeks I have spent a lot of time in Hampstead Heath, North London, where I am currently recording sounds for my dissertation.This involves going up to the same location in the park at different times of the day and at night to record the soundscape with a pair of omni mics rigged in the canopy of a tree.At night especially when it’s quiet but also on Sunday mornings I noticed that I was able to hear the distant bells from St Anne’s church in Highgate, which is about half a mile away.I went up to the church to check out the exact times when the bells are ringing and found out that the church offers a drop in class for their bell ringing practice! – http://www.bird-dog-demo.com/stannes/bell-ringing/I always thought it would be great to be able to record church bells with some degree of creative input and to spend some time thinking about the best mic placement without disturbing the sunday service, so I spoke to the person in charge and he was very welcoming and supportive of the idea.As it would be useful to cover a recording session like this from different microphone perspectives, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to have another soundcollectors club meet up.It looks pretty certain that we could record the practice session there [in early September]. Apparently access to the tower is a bit tricky and tight so it would definitely be worth setting up before the ringing starts. I think this would suit about 4-5 recordists and I think it would be cool to cover interior as well as exterior perspectives.That’s about it – except that there is a nice pub down the road to grab a pint after.”
I’d come across the building a while back when I went to an event called The New Atlantis and immediately noticed (it’s hard not to, as you can probably tell from the video above!) how creaky the floor was. Therefore, I thought it’d be a perfect location for our latest Sound Collectors’ Club recording meetup.
I brought along a Sound Devices 744T and Schoeps mic which was used as the main recording rig but Tony and Raoul also brought along their Zoom H4N’s which were used as room mics to pick up wider recordings.
I used the Schoeps to cover 2 positions in each of the rooms we recorded in:
- Approximately head height in order to imitate a typical boom position. This is for when the recordings are needed to supplement foley or production sound footsteps.
- Very close (about 10 inches) to the creaking floorboards in order to provide a potential element for sound design. Part of the reason I recorded at 96kHz was also to support this type of usage.
Most of the rooms’ flooring provided similar kinds of creaking. The main distinction you will notice in the recordings (if you contribute to the set) is between the actual rooms compared to the landing at the top / bottom of the stairs. The stairs themselves had been renovated relatively recently so didn’t make as much noise as, say, the landing, which Tony nearly managed to put his foot through!
We also tried to cover a mixture of different walking:
- Not really walking; just moving our feet in a way so as to coerce the biggest creaks out of the boards.
- Walking slowly and more naturally so as to get separation between creaks (for easier editing) and making smaller, more ‘everyday’ creaks (as opposed to the loud, ‘Haunted House’ creaks we were otherwise achieving).
By the way, apologies to other members for having to limit our number to the three of us – it’s only a small building and because of the type of sound we were recording it would have been impractical for loads of us to go along.
Many thanks to Martin Wyatt at Handel House for allowing us to record there, and also to Ella Roberts for being a very friendly and helpful guide to us on the day. If you’re in the area, I strongly recommend visiting the museum. They have an ever-changing programme of interesting recitals, talks and events which you’ll find listed on their website.
Finally, I’d be interested to hear what other participants in the ‘Creaks: Floor and Stairs’ Collection think of the recordings – feel free to comment here or drop me a line directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Thanks to Raoul for providing the vid!
P.P.S. Yes, I do normally keep my mic cables wound up more neatly!
So, as you’ll have noticed, no new theme this month. I was away on holiday for the start of the month and so, sitting down to prep the new theme launch last night, I thought better of it in the end and decided that the remainder of the month would be better spent having another bash at an older theme that hasn’t as yet had much love: Floor & Stair Creaks.
I’m going to merge these two sets into one folder in Sugarsync so, even if you are only able to provide, say, floor creaks, you’ll still get access to any contributed stair creaks too. This is simply because the two types of creaks are so interlinked that it’s pointless treating them as separate collections.
Have a think if there’s any older buildings you can access to get some good creaks but don’t discount your own homes; creaks from all periods of housing are useful and very welcome.
I’m going to collect some sounds from my house but I’ve also managed to organise an opportunity to get into an 18th Century building in Central London in a couple of weeks time to get some good floor and staircase sounds. In this way, we can kill two birds with one stone and have our first club meet up in quite a long while too. We may not risk getting carbon monoxide poisoning this time as well, which is a bonus.
We’ve only got half an hour in there but it’s only a small building anyway so we should be ok for time. The bad news is that, because it’s a small building, it’s impractical to have loads of us traipsing around in there so I’ll have to limit it to two members coming along with me. However, if I try and schedule the record towards the end of the afternoon then, if you’re in town, we could maybe join you for a drink somewhere nearby after we’re done creaking. Remember, as long as you contribute to the club’s creaks collection then you’ll get a copy of our results anyway.
Best bet is, if you’re likely to be in the vicinity and fancy meeting up in a couple of weeks, drop me a line at email@example.com, I’ll give you more info and we’ll take it from there!
- Choosing a windy day.
- Planes. The day I was there the plane noise was pretty minor. However flight paths change all the time so there’s no guarantee that this won’t be a problem.
- Kew Gardens is pricey to get into (£13.90).
One alternative I’ve found to Kew, if these problems make it an unsuitable location, is Winkworth Arboretum in (or near) Guildford. This could solve the problem with plane noise (it can’t be worse than West London, surely?!) and is cheaper (£6.20, though you’ll pay more for travel).
I’ve been mentioning my intentions for a recording meetup to a few people for quite a while now but haven’t had a chance to really give it much thought……until now!
I was having a quick scan of the internet the other day looking for interesting ideas for Echo Space, this month’s sound collecting theme. My first thought was to find out about the Woolwich and Greenwich foot tunnels under the Thames but as far as I can tell from online comments these tunnels are closed for refurbs at the moment.
If they are, it’s a shame because I know the tunnels sound great. A Chris Watson workshop I signed up to a few years back went around this part of London. I didn’t make it in the end due to my first son turning up but I did hear some of the results (Uncannily, I also missed Chris’ subsequent workshop last year in Kew Gardens because of my second son arriving on the scene! The lengths my wife will go to to stop me going out recording…..!):
(Apologies to Juan Gil and Tom Lawrence if i’ve misunderstood the licensing terms of the audio and image. I’ve taken it as a typical creative commons agreement: i.e. usage is ok if non-commercial and author-attribution is given, but obviously I’ll remove them immediately if there’s any issues with that).
Anyway, if I’m wrong and these are open then it’d be great to go and get our own recordings if anyone’s interested. However, if they are closed then there’s always that glamorous London destination, The Rotherhithe Tunnel, which I’ve seen described online by a non-soundie as ‘an acoustic hall of mirrors’. Bingo!
The tunnel’s right near to some nice pubs on the river so perhaps we could meet up at one of them and then have a quick recording sortie into the tunnel (don’t personally fancy walking right the way through it!) before returning to one of the pubs for a couple more jars. Let me know if you’re interested; leave a comment here or DM me. I finish my current film project next week so from then until early May is best for me. One thing’s for sure – if no-one comes I ain’t going down that tunnel by myself!