Sound Recording Reflection

What’s your experience in recording sound been like so far?

I took a friend with me for my first soundwalk. I was a little uncomfortable going alone while I was still figuring out what to capture and how to use the sound recording software built into my phone. In one of the class readings, Westerkamp explained how soundwalks should be designed to lead listeners through various types of sound environments. For example, going from someplace noisy to a quieter space will give listeners a chance to refocus their attention and move onto another listening experience. I, however, didn’t really plan my first soundwalk since I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think for future soundwalks and other, shorter recording experiences, I will try to think about where I should go to hear interesting sounds and in what order I might visit these places. I know I’m already thinking about places I go regularly and how and when I should capture those sounds. As Quiet American said, “Simple sounds are often in rich detail.” I want to capture sounds that I hear all the time and look at them in more depth. I want to know what is going on beyond my small scope of attention that I can give in the moment by listening to these sounds several times, perhaps in a loop as Quiet American suggested trying.

 

What’s strange, compelling, interesting, and/or frustrating about it?

I think the strangest thing about recording sounds like this is just that I have no clue what I’m doing. I have never focused my attention on just the sounds around me. Sound always seems to be such a secondary element of what is going on. Perhaps we are taught that this is true because visual cues can more be more obviously revealing on their own, as they can encompass gestures, facial expressions, body posture, setting cues, etc. One of the class readings from last week emphasized that sounds can be even more revealing than other types of experiences, such as visual. And with sound, you can pick up on tone, silence, music, etc., which is truly a rich experience. I think what is most compelling to me right now in this project is that I have a great opportunity to pick up on these aural cues that I haven’t noticed before. The most frustrating part of recording sounds thus far has been knowing the right time to record something. Moments too late and you miss it. Stopping a recording too soon, and you cannot help but feel bad about missing it.

 

What sorts of information about C-U have you learned that you didn’t know otherwise?

So far, I don’t feel like I have picked up on too much about Champaign-Urbana specifically. I do suppose that while intently listening to my surroundings I learned that you might automatically hear what is around you as noise. This seems obvious and of course it’s more efficient to go through life able to distinguish the important noises with little distraction from the background. But in returning to these sounds later and listening to them several times through my recordings, I can distinguish groups of friends walking by, the hum of bugs hanging onto the end of summer, the wind moving things around me ever so slightly, cars and motorcycles purring past me. I’m excited to notice what else is around me as I continue this project.

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