Introduction to Field Recording and the Soundscape | Goldsmiths, University of London

Mon Jan 13 2020 at 06:30 pm to Mon Mar 23 2020 at 08:30 pm
Goldsmiths University, New Cross, London, United Kingdom

Goldsmiths University, New Cross, London, United Kingdom

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Field recordings are sound recordings made outside of a studio using portable equipment. These capture the acoustical traces of landscapes, locations and populations; the intertwining of topography, meteorological phenomena, architectural acoustics, fauna, flora and mechanical processes. This course explores the techniques of field recording, providing an overview of the discipline, which has vital importance for film and documentary sound, radio, scientific and ecology enquiry and art practice.

This 10 week course is suitable for complete newcomers to field recording and for those with some experience of basic hand-held recorders who want to improve the quality of their recordings. This will involve workshops, lectures and practical hands-on experience, through recording sessions and field trips. We will also learn about the basics of sound editing, processing and soundscape composition using digital audio software. Your practical knowledge will be framed in relation to lectures focusing on the history, language and methods of soundscape studies, as well as related fields such as acoustic communication and acoustic ecology. It will be of great benefit to you if you are interested in:

• Recording a diverse range of environments (including underwater) and wildlife• Using sound in relation to your art practice• Exploring ‘found sound’ in the context of music composition• Producing radio-style documentaries and podcasts• Learning about digital recording and using software for editing and production

Since the 1970s much of the discussion concerning environmental sound has been framed in relation to the term ‘soundscape,’ defined by the music educator and writer R. Murray Schafer as, “Technically any portion of the sonic environment regarded as a field of study. The term may refer to actual environments, or to abstract constructions such as musical compositions and tape montages, particularly when considered as an environment.”

We will listen for inspiration in the current and historical contexts of phonography and soundscape studies and review a diverse range of recordings and compositions. You will gain an understanding of ‘site’ encompassing space, place and location as well as exploring other intersections such as time and the socio-political context. We will also provide you with a thorough grounding in the contemporary context in which to develop a phonographic or sound art practice.

The course is both practical and technical. We’ll spend time outside, listening to and considering our surroundings. You will learn how to make high fidelity recordings using a range of equipment and techniques; there will be demonstrations and workshops using:

• portable recorders• external microphones • hydrophones, contact and coil microphones• ultrasound detectors

There will be plenty of hands-on time with this equipment. You will also be introduced to the relevant aspects of digital audio software such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live and Logic Pro X – enabling you to learn about audio editing, sound processing and composition techniques. This knowledge and skills are transferrable to a number of contexts, including sound art practice and fine art; radio or film and applied to location recording for films or post-production sound; and used in documenting oral histories, building sound libraries, creating soundwalks and more.

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