Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Drift 1 this weekend!

Hello all,

Thanks again for your attendance and patience today. We have a lot of
material to cover in this class, and I know that it's a lot to absorb,
but the hard part (building mics) is over, and now the fun part can begin.

I strongly suggest you complete your Drift 1 walk this weekend so that
you will have plenty of time to transfer and begin editing your

The first step in editing is to listen. Listen, listen, listen, and
then listen some more. Drop the raw recordings into your iPod and have
them playing in the background when you're working on something else.
Get to know the sounds you've recorded so you can make smart decisions
when you really get deep into Audacity (or whatever audio app you are

I will say it again: please go out on your Drift walk this weekend. We
all underestimate how much time things will take, and even after you get
your recordings off your recorder, convert them to WAVs, edit them in
Audacity, and export them as clean MP3s, you still have to upload them
to PantherFile, post them in your Drift 1 blog, add visual elements, and
write eloquent descriptions of what you've done. This is not something
you can do the night before. Trust me.

So, go out, be safe, be creative, and have fun. I've included the Drift
1 Walking Points found on the Drift 1 page:

Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all on Monday.




Drift 1 "Walking Points"

Wear appropriate clothing. Bring your Hi-MD digital sound recorder and
DIY mic rig, a MiniDisc (pre-formatted), headphones, at least four
fully-charged AA batteries, pens, note pad, watch, water, snacks,
sunscreen, and cell phone.

Travel to your designated starting point and go, on foot, for a
four-hour long investigative walk. Use the Drift strategy you selected
for this Drift. If the weather gets too hot or cold or wet, consider
interesting indoor places to continue recording while you recover
(indoor locations are acceptable for this project--to an extent).

Pay attention to your surroundings, be safe, and watch for cars
(especially those inconsiderate drivers who fail to yield to
pedestrians). If you are taking a digital camera with you (or your
cameraphone), try to do only one activity at a time. Don't take
snapshots while you're trying to hold your recorder and mics and
headphones at the same time. This is not the time to multi-task!

Turn on your sound recorder and place it into Record-Pause (blinking
numbers) and then into Manual Gain mode. Listen very attentively (either
through the headphones or with your naked ears).

Whenever you detect that you have entered into a different soundscape,
record the following information and examples:

(a) On your pad of paper take notes describing where you are. Give the
location a name. In addition to drawing prominent features in the
location, write down street names, exact addresses of nearby buildings,
and names of nearby interesting streets. When no address is available,
make note of distances like "100 yards north of green #4 at Lincoln Park
Golf Course." Make sketches, diagrams, and/or snapshots. You will use
this information to make your maps.

(b) Start your sound recorder and verbally speak the name you have given
this location, the date, and the time.

(c) Make at least three "ambience" recordings from three different
stationary positions in the location. See if you can find "sweet spots"
where the stereo image is interesting. Study the space for surfaces and
partial enclosures that could be reflecting and shaping the sounds. For
stereo, try "balancing" two aspects of varied interest between the two
mics. Ambience changes over time, so be sure to let each of these
recordings continue for at least three or four minutes, preferably
longer. Do not move the mics when recording stereo ambience because it
blurs subtle clues about the space and its acoustics.

(d) In the same location walk around and listen for as many distinct
local sounds as you can find and isolate with extreme close micing. In
urban setttings, these sounds can possess high and/or low pitches,
textured rhythms, phasing drones, and blends of tones in harmonic
chords. In natural habitats, local sound effects can include different
animals and a large variety of natural events. In both cases, sound
effects should be mic'd close. Experiment with different mic positions
to affect balance and stereo image. These recordings should also run for
several minutes each, preferably longer. Remember, storage space is
cheap. Better to record more often than you think you need, and for
longer than you think you need.

Continue on your Drift. Stop to create both ambient and close-up
recordings whenever you enter a new sound environment. Don't forget to
make a map of each new location. You should try to to document at least
8-12 sites during your four-hour walk. If you don't come across a
location that sounds different after 15 minutes of walking, stop and
record anyway. You may be surprised to discover that something that
seemed boring in the field turns out very interesting upon playback.
Your goal is to have well over an hour of stereo sound recorded by the
end of your Drift (remember that your Hi-MD discs can hold up to 7 hours
of CD-quality uncompressed audio). You can continue for longer than four
hours if you wish.

Technical Precautions: Remember to press "Stop" and let the "Saving to
Disc" routine continue to completion with the recorder perfectly still.
Have fresh batteries on hand . . . you don't want your recorder to go
dark just when you're about to save your recordings.