Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Brooklyn Bridge Sings! As Does My Backyard!

 When pondering my hearing, I have been pondering sound healing and the acoustic ecology in which we live in.  I found some really interesting things going on as musicians and ecologists combine to think about the soundscapes in which we live.  It's very interesting to hear what is actually going around us. 

Some musicians have actually used bridges as inspiration. 

Sound artist Rutger Zuydervelt and designer Gerco Hiddink have teamed up to organize a new audio project called Bridges.

The project asked a group of eight well-known improvisational musicians to "react" to four Dutch bridges (or, more accurately, to field recordings made on, under, and near those bridges). The project is thus as much about musical improv as it is about infrastructural acoustics—a structural ecology of sound vibrantly humming in the spaces around us. 


Even more recently—and as those of you in New York City will get to hear next week at Studio-X NYCsound artist Kevin Allen has being exploring sounds hidden in material objects & systems (what Allen calls "the secret lives of material objects") with his ongoing project, "Sonic Geologic."

Next week at Studio-X NYC, Allen himself will be on hand to let us listen to the Brooklyn Bridge: "The suspension cables of the bridge make excellent conduits for sound," he writes, "picking up moving traffic, bicycles, pedestrians, wind and the general resonance of the bridge itself. Considering the surprising amount of movement of the cables, it was especially difficult to get these microphones to make contact. In the end, best results came from using a set of wood vises. For variation I also attached mics to the steel gate at the center of the bridge. This placement brought a more metallic, tonal quality to the sound recording."

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I have been pondering my own little acoustic ecology here in Bucks County.  I live relatively close to the Bypass so when I stop and try to be very quiet, there is always a slight roar of the highway except maybe late at night or on very snowy days that are only broken up by the sound of the snow removal machines.  There is the blowing of air through my ionized air filter that keeps the dust bunnies from accumulating.  Maybe my husband rattling around downstairs with the TV tuned to the booming of the explosions from a sci-fi or action movie. 

Yet, we are still always surrounded by nature.  The neighbors and I have attracted a lot of birds into our back yards with our bird feeders so we are getting a small symphony of birds as they flock to our feeders.

The blue jays' jaay or jaay-jaay, at a moderate tone attracts other jays. When the Blue Jay wants to warn another Jay, he ups the intensity.

We also get Cardinal's sounds of purdy purdy purdy... whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit, or what-cheer, what-cheer ... wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet.

the chip-ee of baby goldfinches.  Goldfinches give the ascending su-weet call when agitated as another goldfinch  encroaches on their turf.  Males give high-pitched canary-like songs early in the spring and late in the summer during nesting. Early songs are rambling and continuous; during nesting they are short and precise, somewhat resembling the songs of Indigo Buntings.

Mourning doves come around with their Oo-wah-hooo, hoo-hoo.

And robins with their cheerily, cheeriup, cheerio, cheeriup.

Finallly, there is always the tap, tap, of my fingers on my computers keypad as I blog.

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