I’ve long had the idea to record and mix the sounds of the streets. So when we were given the assignment to produce a media piece based on the street art concept, I said to myself: ‘Well, you can always make a photograph, but this one calls for a more unusual approach.’
I didn’t have ‘professional’ equipment – so I had to go with the only thing that was available to me – my Sansa Clip+ MP3 player. It only records in Mono WAV @ 24 000 Hz, but still, it was a decent option.
I live quite far from the city centre, so I decided I would record whatever I find interesting on a walk from home to the centre. I wanted to have less sounds which are more distinctive and don’t blend in each other, so I went out on a Sunday afternoon and was walking on more quiet streets. In the end of a 50-minute walk I had more than enough raw material, with different types of sounds.
The sound I used as a foundation was a recording I made of my own steps – I looped a 2-second piece to create the impression of constant walking. Another thing I wanted to have in my final mix were conversations – so whenever I saw a group of people (two or more people usually means conversations), I tried to approach them so they are within the microphone’s reach. I was happy that I have English, Japanese and Indian conversations in the mix.
I started feeling the streets in a whole new way. Everything that is happening in the streets has its own specific sound, and actually a lot of what the city is about has to do with the streets. I felt like I was a viewer of whatever was happening, as if I wasn’t there but just watching and listening. The wind, the people, the birds, the falling leaves – everything has its place in the street. Most distinctive, of course, were the car engines – I realized they are everywhere, a constant background of whatever is happening in the city. To emphasize on that, I put the same recording of a passing car at the beginning and in the end of the mix. I also put some recurring sounds, to try and create rhythm within the mix.
This was just my first experiment with life in the streets, I intend to explore this concept further and deeper. Stay tuned 🙂