The weather continues to get warmer and in fact we have a beautiful sunny morning to celebrate the 1st day of spring (Opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere remember :-) ) We went for a walk along the beach to see the caves that give caves beach its name. It was nice to walk along the beach and the caves were interesting, but beaches pretty much only allow for one thing to be recorded and that’s the ocean. Retuning to where we were staying however I got a few interesting bird sounds and a very VERY aggressive Chihuahua. Again I think it might have been reacting to the fluffy cover on my mike, but it amazes me that such a small animal can sound so aggressive. I think I will have to play around with the sound and see what it sounds like dropped in pitch by an octave. Angry angry little dogie.
Location Batemans Bay NSW Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array
The weather has been getting warmer as we move north, but also the wildlife has been changing dramatically. Outside our hotel there were a number of Rainbow Lorikeets and some Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. I managed to get a pretty good sample for the lorikeets but only a small amount of the cockatoo. I want to try and get more of the cockies as they are another iconic Australian bird. The Lorikeets has a small feeding pan the hotel owners had put out, this proved really handy as they got somewhat defensive when I was recording them and changed to an aggressive squawk I might not otherwise have gotten. I think the furry wind cover on my mike sometimes looks like another animal. I have had interesting reactions from animals in the past to it.
Location Cann River, South Gippland Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array
We finally found a stretch of road with not too much traffic on it where I could stop for 5 minutes and record some Bellbirds. These are a very characteristically Australian sound I think. There were a few of them in a clump of tress and I managed to get a good sample, even though I could hear a chainsaw off in the distance somewhere. It doesn’t seem to matter how far out in the middle of nowhere that you go, there are always people making noise somewhere. This has always been one of the biggest issues with location recording. Its not just the difficulty with finding the material you want to record, its finding it somewhere where there isn't loads of other sounds contaminating your recording. Patience is important, but also a good dose of luck can be a great help
Location Mount Dandenong Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array
There are quit a few sounds that I want to try and capture while we are in Melbourne, and then many I am hoping to get the opportunity to find while we travel north. Today was an unplanned opportunity to grab some bird sounds away from the main city area. A trip up to Mount Dandenong resulted in some Magpie, Kookaburra and other bird recordings. I suspect I will have many chances to record these again when we travel, but the more raw materials I have the better I can make the final additions to the library.
The main issue today was other people. Mount Dandenong is a fairly popular tourist area and so it was difficult not to capture people and cars int he background. I will find out later on that capturing clean recordings of common birds such as magpies will prove to be far more difficult than I had imagined.
I think I might have finally captured the other bird I have been chasing around Sannohe. I recorded the Cuckoo successfully about a month ago, but for several months I have been following a very unusual bird that appears to only be active at night. I am assuming it is a bird. I have not been able to see it, and it moves quite quickly so it is definitely flying, and the quality of the sound does not seem like an insect. The sound itself is a single whistle of about a second long around 3300Hz roughly. It varies only by about half a tone, and interestingly it really is a half tone variation. It sounds like a whistle or flute with only two notes. The other interesting thing is that I have only ever heard one of these birds in the area. The whistle has a distinctive timing to it so if it is more than one bird they have very good timing between them. I recorded a fair bit of material as I wanted to be able to get a clean recording without the frogs which started up intermittently and other insect sounds. I have not yet edited the material down to see how good a sample I have, but I believe I have enough material for a good addition to the library. Now all I have to do is find out what on earth the bird is; no one around here seems to know and in most cases aren’t even aware of its existence.
Although the sounds of the factory demolition from yesterday were excellent, I realized that I have been spending a lot of time recording metal based sounds recently, pretty much at the expense of other materials. I decided I needed to rectify this, so today I went out and recorded various earth and rock movement sounds, as well as a series of plant and tree sounds. I want to try and make the materials section as comprehensive as possible, so for the moment I am planning to gather a large range of other material based sounds. Stonework will be a little difficult while in Japan as they don’t really use stone or bricks to build with, but it will be a good opportunity to gather wood sounds. For the last few weeks I have been hunting a bird. The wildlife here is very seasonal, and you can tell exactly what season a Japanese film is set in by what birds or insects you can hear in the background. At the moment there are many birds around as it is still spring prior to the rainy season starting. One in particular that I have been trying to capture is a local species of cuckoo. The issue is that I believe there is only one in the area, and it covers a very large area and doesn’t stay still for long. It has been conveniently perching outside our back door, but this means I would be pointing a microphone down the hill in the direction of the main road. I have tried several times to circle around and record it pointing up the hill but it has always flown off. This evening it appeared to be getting ready to nest further up our hill behind the local elementary school. My initial attempt to record was frustrated and interrupted by several cars that all decided to go down our street at that time, then it was followed by a town announcement on the town public speakers (yes this happens a lot in Japan) and then finally a jumbo flew overhead. Despite my being sure it was not going to stay vocal through all of this I did manage to make my way up behind the school and position myself at the foot of the hill and record a good clean sample of our cuckoo. In total I have probably spent several hours chasing this single bird around town. I was happy to get a good sample, but it can be really hard being patient for so long.
One of my favourtie sounds from Japan and the one I probably will miss the most is the ever present sound of the frogs in the ricefields. For several months of the year all the ricefileds are flooded as the rice is planted and grows to maturity, during this time almost every rice field becomes a home to dozens of frogs. Across any rural area this results in contant background hum of the frogs. Far from being annoying I always found this to be the sound that really made me realize I was living in the country and was a surpizingly relaxing sound.
Anna is visiting me in Tokyo for a few days which I am really happy about. She is still living 700km north of Tokyo in Sannohe while I am down here so I miss her heaps and its great to have her here for a while. We decided to go an visit Mount Takao which is about an hour west of Tokyo on the Takao line (go figure!)
Its still quite warm weather and all the Japanese insects are out in force while the weather is good. Japan must have some of the loudest common insects int he world, and I have noticed already that I can tell where in Japan I am by the sound the insects make, there must be different species everywhere. I really like the sounds of the Japanese insects even though they are very loud, they just make me feel like I am Japan more than anything else. this is probably because they are in every single Japanese anime ever made I think.
I think the insects are Cicadas as they are up in the trees and generally crickets are underground. The bugs themselves are huge, about the size of a child's fist and each individual insect can produce a really loud sound all on its own. I managed to get some good general ambiance as well as a couple of specific close up recordings from on bug on a tree trunk (that's how I know how big they are). I would love to record the insects in Tokyo city as well as they have a different sound again, but Tokyo is so noisy its hard not to capture lots of traffic as well.