The soundscapes project is my favorite assignment so far. Even when preparing the audiodrama, me and Chris were already experimenting with soundscapes, recording ambient sounds and trying to extract sounds and create rhythm from everyday objects. So the soundscapes project gave us a chance to focus on this and challenge ourselves.
The initial idea for the soundscapes project was to walk around the CU Ellen Terry building and record whatever sounds we can find there, and then mix them and ‘see what happens’. One of the ideas was to tell a story or to represent a feeling; we thought about the ‘man vs. machine’ theme – because in a building, part of the sounds are man-made and are arhythmic, and the other sounds – ventilation, equipment, etc. – are usually rhythmic. Another idea was to have a ‘walk-through’ – you open a door, listen to the sounds there, then close it, move on to the next room, listen to its sounds etc.
We walked around the corridors, stairways and rooms we hadn’t come across before (it is a wonderful building for exploring), and we found out we were mainly interested in the music rooms – we spent the most time trying to play the piano and record samples, we recorded the sounds of a band rehearsing in one of the studios, and then we started extracting sound and rhythm from more objects. We used stuff such as waste bins, tennis balls (for some reason, there was a bag with tennis balls in the Assembly room), computer keyboards, a glass and spoon, walls, bottle caps,…
We had also found a very interesting artist – Pogo – who uses samples from popular films to create music, and we thought about experimenting in this direction. Here is one of his most popular tracks:
We spent an hour and a half recording sounds around Ellen Terry. Then I spent another two hours cleaning them up – deleting unnecessary bits at the start and end of the files, and most importantly – identifying the bits that can be looped. One of the things that were real time-savers in the post production was the proper file management – having descriptive filenames including the main sounds that are in the file, the track length and if it is loopable or not.
We spent more than five hours editing. It was a very interesting process, partly because it was a collaboration and there were two of us – we took turns to work on the mix, so when someone had an idea he took over, then if he got stuck at some point we changed places. We have different approaches to editing, but the patience to let each other experiment. Being tolerant and encouraging each other is another key thing.
Here are some screenshots of the mix:
I don’t know if it’s noticeable but it was made in Adobe Premiere Pro – although it’s primarily used for video editing, it did quite well for sound too. Of course, next time we will make sure we are using dedicated audio software.
Here is the final piece, ‘The Typist’ (I am really proud of the result):
Produced by: Rumena Zlatkova, Chris Hammond