Location Sannohe Equipment Roland R09 Handheld Our last night in Sannohe and we do what we enjoy most here, just simply going for a walk around town in the evening. I’m glad I carried my handheld with me because the Town Works people seem to be doing some major work on the drainage systems through town. We came across a giant hole in the road that went down about 5 meters. At the bottom a large pump system was circulating the water for some reason. The sound was great so I held the R09 down the hole and got a sample.So long Sannohe, we are both really going to miss this quite friendly country town.
I didn’t want to miss the chance to record some more fireworks while it was so easy to get access to them. With summer festival season very close fireworks are available everywhere very cheaply. So for the equivalent of about $20 I purchased what would be about $100 worth of fireworks in Australia As with last time the local park just down the road provided a great venue at 9pm as there is never anyone around and it’s nice and quiet.
We took a bucket of water and a box to collect all the rubbish in and spent about 40 minutes enjoying lighting the fireworks and watching them go off as I recorded. We both love fireworks and we will miss the many local festivals in Japan that have great fireworks displays. Sadly fireworks in Australia are just not as well done as they are in Japan. This will also probably be one of the last things I record in Japan. We are both going to miss many things about this country, but new adventures elsewhere will keep us busy.
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.
As part of the process to extend the non metallic sections of the materials library I set out to record a series of glass breaking samples today. Having access to a remote unused depot in a quiet spot on a mountain certainly helped the process. Using some discarded mirrors about 50cm square I recorded various samples of glass breaking through being dropped and impacted upon. It took a few shots to get the levels exactly right but I captured some good material. Two things I learnt from this session. Firstly I decided not to break all of the 12 plates of glass I had with me. I thought it might be a good idea to save some of them for a second session just in case there were any issues with the material. While it is possible to check the material on site, it is often not until you return to the studio that you discover issues with levels, unknown sound contamination and various other unexpected issues. Especially when dealing with a limited resource (I only had 12 plates to smash) it may be wise to plan for 2 sessions allowing you to redo anything that didn’t work. In this case the material was good, but the second session I am going to use the remaining plates to simulate things piercing glass. I will reinforce some of the plates with tape and then use projectiles to punch through the glass hopefully getting a good simulation of bullets breaking glass.
My favourite depot in Sannohe
The second thing I learnt is that glass takes a long time to clean up. I took along several containers to collect all the shrapnel in and a brush and shovel to help me collect the pieces. Glass however literally explodes when it breaks and 70% of my time was spent after recording hunting down glass shards. The glass was then added to the recycling pile for the next collection. It’s also a really good idea to wear protective gear when dealing with glass. I did and was glad of it.
After four or five days straight of rain (courtesy of the wet season) it was nice to have some clear weather so I could record something other than rain. Unfortunately everyone else seemed to be making the most of the good weather as well. I did manage to record a few stone material sounds, but there was a lot of noise coming from the sports park just down the road.The local elementary schools were having an athletics event day. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity I managed to record a couple of races to get both the starters gun as well as some passing sounds of people sprinting, as well as lots of kids cheering the events.
I have previously recorded the local temple bell being rung in town on the handheld Roland R09, but I wanted to get another recording with the Sennheiser on the F4. Using the shotgun mic means I will get more detail in the sound, but it also increases the amount of external sounds I might get as it is much more sensitive. The recording was nice and clear, but I think I underestimated just how powerful the bell would be, with hindsight I guess a bell the size of a human being should be expected to have a pretty high output. I will go through the material and see what can be used but I am expecting to have to make one final trip to the temple to get the full range of sound the bell can produce.
Location Sannohe Equipment Zoom F4 Sennheiser MKH 60 Boom pole array One of the best things about the rainy season is the frequent thunder storms. Staying in a quiet area of a small country town means often good recordings can be made without traffic and people contaminating the sounds, so when a thunderstorm comes through it is well worth setting up a microphone just to see what you get. I usually setup my usual rig upstairs, pointing out an open window. This way I can continue to work on my PC downstairs without worrying that I will contaminate my own recordings. Today I did so and was rewarded with some very good thunder sounds as the storm passed directly overhead. The sound that thunder makes changes considerably with your proximity to its source. As a general rule distant thunder will be just the low frequency rumblings. As the storm and the lightning gets closer to your position you should hear more high frequency elements of the sound. The sound of lightning breaking directly overhead sounds like the sky has just been torn open. The volume and range of frequencies are extreme and it is an incredible sound to try and capture. The trick is trying to set your input levels to get a good recording of the distant thunder but also to make sure it doesn’t peak out when the storm moves closer.
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.
Today was the first good weather in nearly a week. With the rainy season just on us it is generally going to be cloudy and very wet for a while. Today however was sunny and 30 degrees, so I decided to go for a walk and get a few things around town I had previously missed. There is a sawmill on the far side of town that runs nearly everyday. Like a lot of Japanese businesses in remote areas it has very little in the way of security or safety equipment. Even though I was standing on the public footpath I was less than ten meters from the saw in the workhouse. This resulted in a good clean recording.
Sannohe Hospital Plant Room
The heat seemed to be working in my favour. The local hospital had opened all the external doors to their plant rooms allowing me to stand in the doorway and record all the plant equipment. A lot of the various air conditioners and equipment sound very similar but I will continue to record and add them to the library as the more variety there is available, the more options there are for the users. Today was a very good day for recording overall.
Location Sannohe Aomori Japan Equipment Roland R09 Handheld
Sannohe Town area
As with a great many recordings today was simply opportunistic.The rainy season will be starting soon throughout Japan and so rain showers are becoming more common. On a brief trip through town I noticed the water flow in the drain system was not only quite strong, but seemed to be flowing in audible waves. The end result could be quite effective to simulate an underground river or something similar. I did however reconfirm the important lesson of “make sure you empty your memory card regularly” as I ran out of storage space. Typically once I had filled my memory card a seagull decided to sit next to me and make lots of unusual squawking sounds.