waterfall

It is true to say that most sounds we hear are made up of many different frequencies and in my experience natural sounds contain a multitude. This was the case with recordings I made recently up in Glendalough Co.  Wicklow. I captured the sounds of the famous waterfall and also a particularly animated, bubbling stream that ran off it.  Even while recording I found myself tuning into the many different notes rippling out of the waters. Each time I go out to do some field recordings the experience becomes more meditative and immersive. It’s a unique way to experience a certain place by taking time out to really listen to it.

Later I took these recordings and used a technique I had recently learned to emphasise the notes within using EQ. It’s quite a simple process but basically it allows you to make a playable instrument from any source audio file. By applying an EQ to the water recordings I picked the note A3 which is found at 220 Hz and boosted this frequency using a notch filter until the note began to ring out. To further accentuate this I applied another notch at 110 Hz and 440 Hz. This gave me an octave below and above A3. I then duplicated this EQ to raise the volume of the boosted frequencies so I could now clearly hear a note emerging from the water. I then bounced this audio out and re sampled it, setting the root note of the sampler to A3. This new sound was now spread across the keyboard and I could play back the sound of the stream like a kind of water organ. I used the same technique with the waterfall recordings to create a hissing pad sound.  Below is an example of this technique. Every sound here is created using the water recordings as source. It still needs some refining but I can see many possibilities in this process.

Water music 1

 

 

djouce

 

Djouce Woods in Wicklow is a place I have known since childhood. My parents brought my brother and I there many times when we were younger as they believed in the benefits of engaging with our natural environments. It’s hard to explain but I feel a connection with this forest and each time I go there I feel slightly better. After a walk my mind is clearer and I feel I have gained some perspective. The natural world is always there waiting, growing, dying away, rejuvenating itself. It will be here when we are gone (hopefully). Lately I have been re-visiting Djouce with my parents, my brother and my niece and nephew. Oisin and Fiadh are approaching fours years of age and I can see how much they enjoy being out among nature too. I believe they are now establishing their own connection to this environment and that it will be a lasting one.

I brought my handheld recorder on our last walk and captured some sounds; the forest ambience, voices, birds high up in the trees. Later I mixed these recordings to create a subtle 5 minute piece of audio. This relates to a recent article I had discovered about the practice of field recording and how it can be a  form of composition. We choose which sounds to record while out on location, how we record them, and later can sequence these recordings in a linear way if we wish. Nothing much happens in this piece. It’s just some of the sounds that occurred while I was there but personally I am becoming more appreciative of simplicity and how sound in it’s raw form can sometimes be enough.

Sounds of Djouce 1