Thursday, February 19, 2009

Drift 1 walk this weekend!

Hello, all.

I strongly suggest you complete your Drift 1 walk this weekend so that
you will have plenty of time to complete this assignment. Drift 1 is
due the Monday after Spring Break. While that may seem a long way away,
you will be surprised at how much time you will need for this assignment.

We all are guilty of underestimating how much time things will take, and
even after you transfer your field recordings off your MD recorder, copy
the WAV files to a CD-R or flash drive, import and edit the recordings
in Audacity, and export them as clean MP3s, you still have to upload
them to PantherFile, link to them on your Drift 1 blog, add your site
maps, document everything on the Drift Map, and write eloquent
descriptions of what you've done. This is not something you can do the
night before. Trust me.

I will say it again: please go out on your Drift walk this weekend. Be
safe, be creative, be warm, and have fun.

I am including 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 six
fully-charged AA batteries, pens, note pad, watch, water, snacks, and
cell phone. Use the buddy system if it will make you feel safer.

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 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. Dial the number to 9 or 10.
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 walk for longer than four
hours if you wish.


Here are the basic settings for preparing for MD Recorder. Copy or print
out and carry them with you.

Make sure you are in Advanced Mode:
* Press and hold Menu for 2 Seconds.
* Rotate jog wheel until "Option" appears.
* Press "Enter" (middle button).
* Rotate to "Menu Mode," Enter.
* Rotate to "Advanced," Enter.

Make sure your discs are in Hi-MD mode (this will be set automatically
if you are using a 1 GB Hi-MD disc):
* Menu
* Option
* Disc Mode
* Hi-MD

Make sure your discs are in Hi-SP mode:
* Menu
* REC Set
* REC Mode
* Hi-SP

Make sure you check your Mic Sensitivity:
* Menu
* REC Set
* Mic Sens
* "High" for general ambience
* "Low" for loud situations or very close mic

Make sure you are in Manual Gain mode while recording:
* Hold down Pause (II) and press REC (+>) ("Record Pause")
* Menu
* REC Set
* REC Volume
* Manual
* You have to do this each time you hit STOP or power up your recorder.

Make sure you keep the Manual Gain setting at 9 or 10 for most
situations. You can scroll up to 11 or 12 for quieter situations, but
anything above 13 or 14 stands a good chance of overmodulating and