Weeting visit for sound

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A visit to Weeting Heath was one of the last places I wanted to record sound from. As one of the remaining parts of the Brecks Heath this would have been the home of the Great Bustard .


The chaps at the visitor centre although quizzical about what I was doing were quite happy to recommend the East Hide as no-one would visit there to see the infamous Stone Curlews as the grass is too long, so I had the hide to myself and could set up myu two sound recorders at either end, to really give a spatial sound result.


I was using 2 H4 Zoom recorders at approximately 12 feet apart.


Looking out over the Brecks Heath habitat..

Unfortunately it is next to a fast road, RAF Lakenheath and a steam rally but there are moments of pure tranquillity and I hope the reproduction will do it justice.


A short walk away was a lovely forest trail with the hope of being further away from the road and rally, so I trekked up there and managed to record a couple of shorter sessions, using the same 12 feet apart set up, as I will be overlaying the different habitats from Weeting, Salisbury Plain and Santon Downham in the final mix.

wpid-dsc_0024.jpgI have already selected the best raw audio footage and am hoping to get in the sound studio next week for the final selection.

Great Bustards in the wild

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Over the last few days I travelled down to Salisbury Plain to visit the Great Bustard re-introduction site…

When I arrived it looked like this…


So I didn’t hold out much hope for actually seeing the Bustards and after a 200 mile journey down to Salisbury was feeling a little deflated.

Lynne from the Great Bustard Group (GBG) turned up in theland rover and we waited for a while for the last two visitors.

wpid-wp-1399106508274.jpegThe view from the landy as we approached the hide.

Off in the distance I could see a small group of birds, which did turn out to be the Bustards.

Lynne told us that there were only 13 Great Bustards at the moment and half of them – the females – were hopefully off sitting on nests, so the small group of males were the only birds to be seen.
The hide is 300 metres from the release pen area which the birds enjoy coming back to and a particular clump of grass seemed to be their favourite spot.
We could see 5 young males and another younger male off to the left, besides the 2 decoy birds that the GBG use to tell the Bustards that this is a safe area to be. They are fenced in here, although they can fly free anywhere on Salisbury Plain and have been known to be found in France.

As we sat in the small hide, the cows who shared the same field obviously use the hide as a bit of a toy and proceeded to push shove, scratch and eat the wood, especially on the corners, so it made it very tricky to record any useful sound, but I did get sense of the space and what the surroundings should sound like, so below find my best 3 minutes, but please excuse the snorting, rubbing, scratching and general cow noises…

So, it’s an open space with summery background birdsong, the odd crow, but a real sense of a wide open green area.
We only had an hour in the hide and it went all too quickly, but off we went to their little shop and headquarters just back from the release pen.
In here they had the most fantastic stuffed Great Bustard, which Lynne was kind enough to turn round for me to get a good photo up close.

wpid-wp-1399124290543.jpegThe little shop was amazing and stuffed full of stuffed Great Bustards and clothing, and you could even buy Great Bustard beer!

I must say a big thankyou to Lynne, who helped me sort out the visit and has been more than helpful in any contact I’ve had with the group, and has amazing landrover driving skills as we squirmed and slid through the muddy bottom gates!

Analysing the sound

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From the sound I gathered yesterday I wanted to see if my recorder – H1 Zoom – could pick up and reproduce the feeling of being in different size open spaces and I tried to record from very different spots.

At one point I was completely in a row of pines and the sound of the birds was muted and softwpid-wp-1398351324909.jpeg


listening to the sound file actually recorded without any tinkering doesn’t give the feeling of an enclosed soft outside space it just has very little sound and it’s as if the birds have been ‘turned down’ . It’s quieter overall and feels separated from the environment…


The bright vivid sound from right in amongst the wooded area has a much more lively tone and clarity and closeness of the birds.

admittedly that’s exactly where I was standing, but the sound I need for my project needs to tell of a wide space as this is the Great Bustards’ preferred habitat.

The Brecks used to be like that but the pines were planted to act as windbreaks to prevent sand and soil storms.

Measures were taken to protect the topsoil during the 19th Century, with farmers planting lines of Scots Pine trees as windbreaks to prevent sand and soil storms – a notable landscape feature in the Brecks today being the distinctive ‘pine lines’ of twisted and knotted pines that resulted from these pine hedges, which have grown wild. http://www.visitwestnorfolk.com/explore/countryside/landscapes/brecks

A few places still exist being more heath like, like Weeting Heath.

The stone curlew is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species and is also currently on the Amber list. Numbers have risen over the past 15 years due to partnerships being created between wildlife conservation bodies and landowners to identify and protect breeding sites. The stone curlew is also afforded special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the EU Birds Directive. Areas where stone curlews are found are designated as Environmentally Sensitive Areas. A key conservation management system at the NWT Weeting Heath reserve is maintaining a healthy population of rabbits. These grazers keep vegetation shorter than 2cm to provide a suitable habitat for nesting stone curlews. link to website

I will look into visiting Weeting and seeing what a wide open space sounds like, will it be an absence of sound…or will it be something else, I can’t quite imagine it, the differences are so subtle that our ears and physical senses come into play with associating sound and place and space. This will need to be very much considered for my exhibition/installation.


Bird Sound – Santon Downham

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For my installation I want to envelop the visitor in the sound of the outdoors, to make them feel as though they are really there in the Great Bustard’s environment. Originally they lived in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks before becoming extinct.


Label reads: Great Bustard, Otis tarda: These birds were once numerous in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks, but became extinct as a British breeding species in 1832. Unsuccessful attempts at reintroduction have been made, and the species today is a very rare vagrant to Britain. (this label is used in the Great Bustard display in the Norwich Castle Museum)

 So I started my search for  ‘the Brecks’ and discovered they are centred in and around Thetford…

The Brecks spans 392 sq. miles/1015 sq. kilometres across Norfolk and Suffolk in the heart of The East of England – one of the driest parts of Britain, a landscape of tranquil forest, open heathland and agricultural land, is home to many unique or distinctive birds, plants and animals. http://www.brecks.org/

I continued searching and found these great walks on the council website, http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Leisure_and_culture/Norfolk_Trails/Circular_walks/walks/NCC129992

in and around Thetford, reading through them, I chose the Santon Downham long walk as this seemed to pass through a wide variety of environments.

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I stopped at many of the places in the above photos, unfortunately the walk follows alongside the trainline at points and it did interrupt some of my sound recordings.

Also you might note a mysterious low rumble, I’m afraid I was hungry and my little H1 Zoom recorded it!

Listening to the different open spaces, against the bird heavy wood spaces was something I hadn’t thought about, we obviously don’t normally analyse the sound of the space, but it was evident in what I was hearing but could my little recorder capture it?


Sebastian Castagna

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Sebastian Castagna was our visiting lecturer this week, composer and sound artist, his interest is in electro acoustic music and he enjoys the analysis process when listening to music.

He gave us a short piano piece to start our analysis on, and walked through the first three sections, in the first section there is a repeat of three notes, when we then examined the second section, we could see it was a mirror of the first three notes, instead of going down then up, it went up then down. The third section then had the same note pattern as the first but all of the notes were held twice as long, this was the extended version. This is an interesting mechanic when producing music, more can be created from the material by a simple process of original, mirror, extended.

Sound is not always speaking about itself, but about the room and space it’s in. This is a very poignant line for me, as I need people not only to see relevant audio, but to make them feel they are out in the open, not in an exhibition space.

If mixing sound in stereo the speakers have to be placed correctly to replicate what you want people to hear, ie, for me, the Great Bustard sculpture will have it’s own noise, but when triggered the sound needs to move from the sculpture over the wall and away, so thinking ahead about the placement of speakers is something I must not overlook.

Musical Gestures can add movement to your piece, Texture is a background feeling to the sound, much like Pollocks paintings are a visual texture.

One of the slides showed Sebastians breakdown of sound analysis…


nature sounds (sea, rain, wind, etc.)
city sounds (cars, people, etc)
industrial sounds (machinery, etc)
timbre (colour)
shape (contour)


Spatial Behaviour: foreground/background   –   stereo image/placement


density (layers)
pace (fast, slow)
dynamics (loud, quiet)
spatial treatment

This was great to see it all laid out as a list, things to consider when putting my sound together!

For the last part of Sebastian’s talk we analysed section by section a piece of Javier Alvarez electro-acoustic music called Dorcoba Aureispina. Again breaking it down bit by bit..

Very useful to think about the sound in this analytic way.

He also recommended the Michel Chion book – Audio Vision, Sound on Screen.

Thanks Sebastian!




ASU film – sound

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After re writing the poem I needed to re-record it and this I did again using my H1 zoom recorder, being more aware of how it sounded over the film, I thought it best to go through the whole poem section by section with my voiceover artist so I had more flexibility in the edit. I made sure all the inflections were how I wanted them to sound. In so doing I got a much clearer recording, very close to how it sounded in my head… well worth re-doing.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 21.14.41

This new recording then went back into logic with a new visual output to match it up to.

Through editing in After Effects I have removed and re-ordered some of the film so it is now shorter, which ended up being a bonus as the music track now fits much better, I added in the footstep recording in another section to reinforce the constant journey of my main character and made sure the transitions were smooth between the 6 different ‘ambient’ sounds I recorded whilst live on location on the actual filming nights.

Getting back to grips with Logic was something I really wanted to do with this film, although at times I considered just doing the sound and editing in premiere, but overall it served me really well, and it meant I could work on two separate pieces of my film on two machines at the same time!

So here it is, the sound bed used in my film.


ASU film poem – final version

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After the feedback from the group crit I decided I should add another verse to the poem I had written for my film, luckily a few verses had not made it too the final version, so I was able to tweak them so that they fit better in the final flow of prose…



Walking, walking not quite alone

Searching, looking on the way home

a shadow of me both revealed and lost

my life is split, no matter this cost


The colour drains from every place,

Only shadows appear upon my face

Round and round my life does grind

Focus front, all else is blind.


This route I take I know it well,

if my memories could speak what mine would tell

of me, or me, of both of us


lost in cycles spiralling down

our fate is framed by constant frown

The call we answer isn’t real, it’s in our heads, it’s what we feel,

day after day we tread this road,

our never ending mental load.


Appearances can be deceiving, eyes, feet, walk, all misleading.

Life was once bright and clear,

but now I trudge along in  fear

of who and what and where and when

we know our lives can’t fly again.


Now released into the wild

our minds are dark, unfurled, defiled

but walk this way we must repeat in case our life we find replete.


…it’s centred around duality, schizophrenia and guilt, but open to personal interpretation…


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Our tutor Liam asked us to take a soundwalk around 6 locations in Norwich, all suggested by our fellow students,

1. Primark

2. St gregorys church

3. the car park behind rainbow wholefoods

4. Norwich Cathedral

5. to sit a bus stop

6. walk through a crowd…

and as we visited each one to listen, to eavesdrop on the conversations going on around us.

I found this really tricky and after almost an hour I decided just to write anything I heard down, it seemed either I wasn’t catching what people had said, or I was just missing it…

I set off for the Cathedral after trying to go through a crowd and not catching  a bean and found that this location gave me a chance to ‘get into’ listening and in the shop I was able to look interested in the things they were selling whilst noting down the visitors comments as they made their own purchases, this got me off to a good start and then I felt more confident as I travelled to some of the other places, I didn’t get to them all, but the one that stood out for me, or has fired my imagination, is almost one of the last overheard sentences before I returned to College, it was just as I was passing by the market – quite slowly – and two guys went past at a rapid rate, one of them announcing to the other in an urgetnt tone “There’s just one more place to try Danny…” it sounded slightly desperate, the urgency in his voice stuck in my head and got me wondering, had they lost something, were they just looking for something, what could it be…

I haven’t been inspired to write a script – the point of this exercise – but I have had visions of what different scenes might look like, made up of silhouettes and reflections, not quite the whole picture as we try that ‘one last place to look’.

ideasP1 ideasP2



Sit on this one with your legs dangling down – (a photographer to a magician sitting in an alcove)


That’s a bit spooky


I don’t think I want to read that, no, not today

I’m always looking for ideas for my partner for Christmas

I always seem to be visiting that machine… more cash, more cash… it’s too easy isn’t it

He’s seen a sculpture of a scantily clad woman in the Garden centre, he keeps saying it’s only for the summer house

Those boys last week didn’t want the blue balls, they only wanted the pink and purple ones,

DSC_0035 DSC_0036 DSC_0037 

At the bus stop—————————————————–

I’ll just check before we get on the bus

I never want to sit next to the window

Do they bus them in?

I think it was Albert – I don’t know

You want to get on first or they’ll make you stand up

In Primark————————————————————-

Where are the womens onsies, ooh no where are the mens

Can you ask for a medium in that one please

They’re horrible aren’t they, do you agree with me… oh yeah, they had loads more before

Has she seen your size has she or is she getting it for you

Yeah he’ll be well chuffed when we get to the um.. what are we doing..


En route———————————————————————–

Just one more place to look Danny

I was gone for two weeks – officially it was all going well until I spoke to my Grandma

Yeah, but do you wanna change.. do you wanna 

So whose side are you on then, you know after the fall out

If I saw him coming I’d go the other way

Some like um.. outdoor shop

Go on you must have right muscly arms from pushing that – in reference to a pushchair

It only lasts like a day

When they were in court the other day he said it was better because he had to focus on what he was doing

Okay then I’ll meet you at the Argos bus stop

I’m not worried about because I’ve got five watches anyway

It’s all neon

Can’t get anybody to help you

Did you watch emmerdale? No, I can watch it on catchup

We’ll use satnav or we’ll end up in Nottingham

We don’t have to wear a hat…

Taking a look at the space

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Today was a day to capture footage and photos from the space inside the Norwich Castle Museum where the Great Bustard display is kept.

This video takes us from the outer rotunda area into the Wildlife bit through the Ted Ellis Dioramas. As you can see the Display case is almost hidden behind the chairs.


This photo shows the full width of the area from side to side, there’s lots of space, but I would need to plan carefully where best to place the trigger image.

Sounds from the Diorama room… 

Whilst I was in there a few groups of children came round and were really impressed with the stuffed birds, especially the enormous heron and the Bustards, just because they are so big.

I also took a lot of close ups of the faces of the GB’s just from future reference, but the closer you get to them, the more you can see how dried they are…
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ASU4 submission – Moving Image and Sound MA – NUA

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For my sound module I have tried to investigate the potential of audio to change the feelings of the viewer, to see if it is possible to alter the context/perception and interpretation of a single piece of visual footage just by generating alternative soundscapes.

I have created a short piece of film which I have produced two different soundtracks for. I have recorded various natural and mechanical sound bytes, capturing some of my own musical output and taken them into the sound suite to digitally alter, resample and re-record, thereby gathering the required starting points for my soundscapes.

I have looked at audio-visual phrasing, rhythm and acoustic expressions of emotional states to help understand what will make two differing musical designs. I have asked friends and family, what music alters their mood, and looked into how personal perception of music may also add to the interpretative process.


I am submitting one film, but with two soundtracks.

All of the sound was put on in post-production, no sound was taken from any of the video clips, in fact when I brought the video footage into Premiere I deleted the audio tracks completely before cutting the visuals together from a brief storyboard.

All of the sound was recorded using my Zoom H1, the live sound recording studio at College or the synthesiser midi keyboard. Some extra effects are from the digital sound libraries, but I tried to use as much of my own sound as was possible, all mixed in Logic Pro to produce two different soundtracks.

Below are a purple button and a red button, please choose one, watch the following film and then click the link to take the survey. This will inform me if my experiment into sound and emotion has been a successful one.




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