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The Jökulsá á Fjöllum river was a large obstacle in the past. River crossings on horseback were not possible so ferries were used at three different locations. The refuge hut was built at one of these locations, intended to house the travellers. The river was first bridged here in 1948. The road through Mývatnsöræfi was partially buried underneath the lava flow during the Mývatnseldar eruption in 1875. A few years later a new road was laid though this wilderness. The cairns indicate the location of this road, which is one of the earliest examples of a public road making. This was also used as a postal road.
The refuge hut was built in 1883 from dressed stone quarried from the surrounding area and bound with lime. A number of men participated in transporting the timber, lime and cement for the construction, all the way from Vopnafjörður, Húsavík and Akureyri. The low ceilinged cellar was used as a stable, its entrance having once been protected by a lean-to. The suspected haunting of the hut prevented a proper use of it.
The refuge hut at Jökulsá á Fjöllum plays a role in the novella Aðventa (The good Shepard) by Gunnar Gunnarsson.
Not only was this a period of intense volcanic activity, it was also a time of innovation in building techniques in Iceland, of which the construction of stone houses was a part. Prior to the construction of the refuge hut, stone houses had been built in a few places in the North-east. These included Þverárkirkja in Laxárdalur (1878) and a vicarage in Sauðanes (1879). The construction of the Althing Parliament House in Reykjavík in 1881 also had a considerable impact on the propagation of stone houses in Iceland.
The refuge hut was previously managed by the Icelandic Road Administration, but has been a part of the National Museum of Iceland‘s Historic Buildings Collection since 1988 (*National Museum of Iceland)
The recording starts under the hut´s wall. The wind gently wipes the surface around the hut when a lonely Snow Bunting gives a weak song to the empty black desert.
Then the recording slowly moves from the hut to the river’s bank, to a place that could tell many stories from the past if the stones could speak. The recording ends with a squawk from two Pink Footed Goose that overfly close over river’s surface on the way to the north.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low- to mid level.

Sæluhúsið við Jökulsá á Fjöllum.

Fyrr á öldum var Jökulsá á Fjöllum víðfeðmur farartálmi. Áin var hvergi talin reið og voru lögferjur á þremur stöðum. Sæluhúsið var reist við einn slíkan ferjustað en fyrst var brúað hér árið 1948. Þjóðleiðin um Mývatnsöræfi fór að hluta undir hraun í Mývatnseldum árið 1875. Nokkrum árum síðar var ráðist í að leggja nýjan veg um öræfin og var Jakob Hálfdanarson, síðar kaupfélagsstjóri kaupfélags Þingeyinga, valinn til að stýra verkinu. Vörður sýna legu vegarins en þessar vegleifar eru með elstu minjum um opinbera vegagerð á Íslandi en þetta var jafnframt póstleið.
Sæluhúsið var reist árið 1883 úr tilhöggnu grjóti úr nánasta umhverfi. Timbur, kalk, sement og önnur byggingarefni í húsið voru flutt alla leið frá Vopnafirði, Húsavík og Akureyri með aðkomu fjölda manna. Lágreistur kjallarinn var notaður sem hesthús og var inngangsskúr, bíslag, áður yfir kjallaratröppum. Notkun hússins varð þó ekki sem skyldi sökum frásagna um reimleika. Húsið er hluti af sögusviði Aðventu eftir Gunnar Gunnarsson, þar sem greinir frá ferðum Fjalla-Bensa, Benedikts Sigurjónssonar.
Gamalíel Einarsson var fenginn að byggingu sæluhússins sumarið 1883 sem aðalsmiður hússins en Sigurbjörn Sigurðsson, Jakob Sigurgeirsson og Friðrik Guðmundsson áttu þar einnig stóran hlut. Jakob Hálfdanarson mun hafa ráðið staðsetningu og útliti hússins. Landssjóður veitti fé til smíðinnar.
Þessi umbrotatími jarðskorpunnar var einnig tímabil nýrra hugmynda um byggingatækni á Íslandi og var bygging steinhúsa hluti af þeirri nýbreytni. Steinhlaðin hús voru tekin að rísa hér og þar á Norðausturlandi nokkru áður en sæluhúsið reis af grunni. Meðal þeirra voru Þverárkirkja í Laxárdal (1878) og prestsbústaður á Sauðanesi (1879). Bygging Alþingishússins í Reykjavík árið 1881 hafði einnig umtalsverð áhrif til frekari fjölgunar steinhúsa á Íslandi.
Sæluhúsið var áður í umsjá Vegagerðar ríkisins en hefur verið í húsasafni Þjóðminjasafns Íslands frá 1988. (*Þjóðminjasafn Íslands)
Upptakan hefst undir húsvegg sæluhússins þar sem vindurinn gælir við hrjúfa veggi. Einmana sólskríkja gefur tóninn út á eyðisandinn. Upptakan færist síðan hægt og rólega niður að árbakkanum á stað sem eflaust gæti sagt margar fornar raunasögur ef steinarnir gætu talað.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á lágum- til miðlungs hljóðstyrk.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 33,7Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS M (see more pictures)
Recording location: 65.638964, -16.224181
Weather: Cloudy, gusty, ca. 6°C.

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Nothing is closer to a perfect experience as being alone in the wilderness, as far from any machines or human activity as you can. And when it is in cold or high altitude with no, or very quiet animal spices, your sense of organ, automatically starts to detect many things you may have never noticed before.
This is one of the things that make field recording in quiet environment so exciting. When you ignore the noise in your head and start to use all your senses, you suddenly noticed another level of sonic world. As a former touring cyclist I spent many weeks every year on the Icelandic highland. I was mostly alone so I got a great opportunity to listen deeply to this quiet soundscape.
Most of this soundscape is just a sound of wind and water and sometimes birds, sheep and gnats in distance.
Following recording contains this typical Icelandic highland soundscape as I remember it. It is so quiet that even the best modern recording equipment can barely capture it and lot of people would not hear anything in such places.
This recording sounds really nice in full quality, but as in mp3 format I am not sure if it interest online listener. Most PC soundcards and headphones do not have the sufficient quality to make it interesting. But anyway it is now online. This is, by the way, my favorite recording material.
The recording was captured between 8 and 9 am 26th of June 2014 in Vesturöræfi moorland, a huge open landscape east of Iceland in 600-800m above sea level. It was “early spring” so there was still a huge of snow.
The beat, or ticking sound, is a drops falling of strew down about 1cm in a small puddle (the picture above).
Some of the pink noise in the background is coming from the waves on the lake “Hálslón” (behind the microphones) and other flowing water in the area, so it is not only amplified noise or mic noise.
Audible birds are mostly Dunlin and in distance Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Northern Wheatear.
Thanks to the Friends of Vatnajokull who made this recording trip possible.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low level.

Droparnir falla á Vesturöræfum

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka frá Vesturöræfum vestan Snæfells. Þögnin var alger en þó mátti heyra í einstaka fugli. Það var tilvijun ein sem réði því að af þessari upptöku varð. Ég rölti um volteldissvæði nærri Klapparlæk rétt ofan við flóðlínu Hálslóns. Ég rak þá augun í vatnsdropa sem láku af strái í gríð og erg í lítinn poll þar sem þeir flutu og köstuðust til á vatnsfletinum í skamma stund.
Við að leggjast á fjórar fætur þá mátti greina taktfast ,,tikk” hljóð sem ég hlóðritaði í um klukkutíma.
Afraksturinn var að hluta til upptakan sem hér má heyra.
Fuglin sem helst heyrist í er lóuþræll, en í bakgrunni má heyra í lóu, spóa og steindepli.
Bakgrunnssuð er að hluta til frá öldugangi í Hálslóni og seitlandi leysingavatni í nágrenninu því enn var mikill snjór var á svæðinu þó kominn væri 26. júní.
Ekki er víst að allir geti notið þessarar upptöku þar sem hún þarf helst að hljóma í fullum upptökugæðum og góðum tækjum. En hér þó á ferðinni það upptökuefni sem heillar mig mest, það er það sem flestir mundu kalla ,,þögn”.
Þessari upptöku má þakka samtökunum Vinum Vatnajökuls sem gerðu það kleift að af þessari upptökuferð gat orðið.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á lágum hljóðstyrk.

Download mp3 file (256kbps / 45,68Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS-M See more photos from the highland recording tour
Recording location: 64.873400, -15.817833
Weather: Cloudy, about 5°C. Calm

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At Culture nights in Reykjavik the 23rd of august 2014 I was walking downtown with my recording gear. Reykjavik downtown was packed with people walking between events everywhere, in the streets, in galleries, restaurants, pubs and shops. I spent most of the day with AudioTechnica BP4025 on boom until I noticed that the sound was probably not as good as expected for music events. So I cycled home and changed to recently made „MKH20 binaural array„, hoping that it would give a better result.
What interested me most was the six hour event in Hallgrímskirkja church. It was a music event with choirs, organ, sing along and many other kind of music. I spent almost two hours there recording to the end of the event. The last one was the choir Schola cantorum. This choir have beautiful voices and that evening they mostly sang hymn songs and prayers, some very old.
Even though I am completely nonreligious, their prayers and songs touched me deeply . It somehow reminded my all in one, of my childhood, the beautiful nature and the wonders of life .
As in a field recording this recording has its own character with average quality. But honestly, it is the most beautiful music I have ever recorded.
I was probably 15 meters from the choir. People walked trough the church siting down and listening for a while, then walking away all the time so you will hear lot of cloth rustling. Outside there was a huge downtown street party which can be heard during the last minutes of the last song when the side doors of the church was opened.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening.

Einlægur bænasöngur

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka sem tekin var upp á Menningarnótt 23. ágúst 2014 í Hallgrimskirkju. Þennan dag stóð þar yfir 6 tíma dagskrá sem kölluð var Sálmafoss, þar sem ýmsir flytendur komu fram. Í lokin kom fram kórinn Schola cantorum undir stjórn Harðar Áskelssonar með sálmalög og bænir.
Upptakan er lítilega samansett þar sem skarkali og drukknir menn trufluðu upptökuna nokkrum sinnum og tóku stemninguna alveg úr sambandi í þessum frábæra söng. Eftir stóðu þó fjórir sálmar sem eru þessir:

1. „Heyr himna smiður„. Sálmur eftir Kolbein Tumason (1173-1208) . Lag eftir Þorkel Sigurbjörnsson (1938-2013).

2. „Til þín, Drottinn hnatta og heima“. Sálmur eftir Pál V. G. Kolka (1895-1971). Lag eftir Þorkel Sigurbjörnsson (1938-2013).

3. „Vertu guð faðir faðir minn„. Sálmur eftir Hallgrím Pétursson (1614-1674). Lag eftir Jakob Tryggvason (1907-1999).

4. „Nú hverfur sól í haf„. Sálmur eftir Sigurbjörn Einarsson (1911-2008). Lag eftir Þorkel Sigurbjörsson (1938-2013).

„Nú hverfur sól í haf“ er svo endurtekið eftir að Sr. Jón Dalbú Hróbjartsson sóknarprestur fer með bænina „Faðir vor“, en þá gengur kórinn einn hring um kirkjuna og endar sönginn frammi í andyri. Á meðan á því stendur eru dyr kikjuskipsins opnaðar, en þá má heyra í því villta partýi sem fyrir utan var.
Upptakan er birt með leyfi kórsins.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum.

Download mp3 file (265kbps/35,5Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (Binaural)
Pics. Canon EOS-M
Rec. Location. 64.141801, -21.926812

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Ásbyrgi was most likely formed by catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last Ice Age, first 8-10,000 years ago, and then again some 3,000 years ago. The river has since changed its course and now runs about 2 km to the east. The legend explains the unusual shape of the canyon differently. Nicknamed Sleipnir’s footprint, it is said that the canyon was formed when Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, touched one of its feet to the ground. Legend also relates that the canyon is the capital city of the „hidden people“ (huldufólk), who live in cracks within the surrounding cliffs.
The area is covered in woodland consisting mainly of birch, willow and mountain ash. Several thousand recently planted pines also prospers.
At its innermost end lies Botnstjörn, a small pond surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. The pond is a home to a variety of waterfowl species like Wigeon and Red-necked Phalarope. Arctic Fulmar nest is on the steep cliffs, while many other birds prefer the woods and meadows.
The recording was made around two am the sixth of June 2014.
Thanks to the Friends of Vatnajokull who made this recording trip to Ásbyrgi possible.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at medium-low level.

Botnstjörn í Ásbygi

Hér er á ferðinni næturupptaka sem gerð var kl 2 eftir miðnætti á útsýnispallinum við Botnsjörn í Ásbyrgi þann 6. júní 2014.
Á upptökunni er helst að heyra í fýl ofan úr bjarginu, rauðhöfðaönd á tjörninni og nokkrum öðrum fuglategundum s.s. músarindli og skógarþresti innan úr skóginum. Þá steypist lítil lækjarspræna ofan af klettinum ofan í grjóturð framan við hljóðnemana.
Þessari upptöku má þakka samtökunum Vinum Vatnajökuls sem gerðu það kleift að af þessari upptökuferð gat orðið.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á miðlungs lágum hljóðstyrk.

 Download mp3 file (192kbps / 41.1Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS-M
Recording location: 65.998393, -16.513573
Weather: Cloudy, about 5°C. Calm, light gust

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The 14th of September 2014 over 100 people met in a ceremony in Arnarholt, west of Iceland, to introduce the tree of the year. This tree is 105 years old European Larch (Larix decidua) so it is one of the oldest tree in Iceland .
The one hour ceremony included speeches, songs and valid measurements of the tree.
The tree was 15,2 meter high with 2 m circumference.
The following recording does not include the whole ceremony. The problem was that all the speeches were trough megaphone so the sound was awful. But the songs were ok and one speech about history of the tree too. The recording ends with another recording I made after the ceremony under the tree with binaural array and contact mics on the tree bole.

Tré ársins 2014

Í Arnarholti í Stafholtstungum var 105 ára Efrópulerki útnefnt tré ársins þann 14. september 2014. Hátt á annað hundarð manns mættu við hátíðlega athöfn og hlýddu þar á ræður og söng. Þá var tréð mælt með löggiltum hætti og reyndist það vera 15,2 metra hátt.
Meðfylgjandi upptaka er ekki lýsandi fyrir það sem gerðist við athöfnina enda upptakan talsvert styttri.
Menn töluðu þar óspart í afar slæmt hljóðkerfi sem ekki var áheyrilegt. Eftir stóð þó söngurinn og ein ræða þar sem stuttlega var sagt frá sögu trésins og þeim tveimur mönnum sem að gróðursetningu þess komu. Í enda upptökunar má heyra vindinn gæla við trjátoppana og hljóðin innan úr bol trésins tekin upp með „kontakt“ hljóðnemum.
Full lýsing á dagskránni þennan dag er annars ágætlega lýst í Laufblaðinu, Fréttablaði Skógræktarfélags Íslands.
Upptakan er birt með leyfi söngvara.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 31,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: MKH30/NTG3 (MS config) & MKH20 (binaural) & Aquarian H2a-XLR
Pix. Canon EOS M
Rec. Location: 64.675469, -21.630393

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It is shocking how hard it is to find quiet places. Our planet is completely rumbling of humans machines. It does not matter where it is, in the ocean on land or in the sky. The situation just goes worse every year.
But „quiet nature“ is not „nothing“. It can be a glorious soundscape with lot of details that can be really wonderful to listen. That is one of the reasons why „quiet nature“ is my favorite recording material. It is hard to find and always difficult to record.
It is a luck to get a nice recording of ¨quiet nature“ It must be all in one, right place, correct time and specific calm weather.
Most of Iceland is without trees or forest. It is mostly bare open landscape so sound can travel in long distances. Sometimes is it possible to hear traffic up to 30 km away. So just one car can cover a huge area with noise pollution for a long time.
In October 2013 I was recording over night in Stafholtsunga, west Iceland. I located the microphones in a ditch to avoid traffic noise as much as possible. But traffic noise all over the county and air conditioner at nearby farm infected this recording most of the time.
The recording starts between 6 and 7am.
If you have quality headphones and sound card you will hear many other things than noise. You will hear in several bird species like raven, starling and swans and birds activity near the microphones. Also barking dog, sheep and horses in distance. You will hear some dripping sound from the groundwater in the ditch. Gust will also gently weep grass and nearby bush.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low level in relaxed position.

Dögun í Stafholtstungu, fyrsti hluti

Það er orðið skelfilegt hversu erfitt er að komast í „náttúrulega þögn“ án vélrænna hljóða frá manninum. Það skiptir engu hvar maður er og á hvaða tíma dags, hávaðinn er alls staðar frá vélum mannsins, í sjónum, á landi og í lofti.
En stundum kemst maður í ágætis færi við „þögula náttúru“ svo langt sem það nær. Auðvitað mætti komast í þessa þögn fjarri mannabyggð en áskorunin er mest að ná þeim í byggð, enda er þar mjög margt áhugavert sem spennandi er að hlusta á án vélahljóða.
Þann 20. október 2013 var ég í Stafholtstungum í Borgarfirði. Setti ég hljóðnema í skurð svo að umferðin í sveitinni kæmi sem minnst inn á upptökuna.
Þarna má heyra ýmsilegt svo sem í húsdýrum, fuglum sem og ýmsu sem fer fram hjá flestum í dagsins önn.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á lágum hljóðstyrk um leið og slakað er á í þægilegum stól eða rúmi.

 Download mp3 file. (256kbps / 56.6Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pix: EOS-M
Rec. Location: 64.672699, -21.629450
Weather: Clear sky, calm, -4°C

IMG_7404 (1400x933)

It was early morning 20th of May 2014, when I and my friend arrive in to the campsite in Skaftafell national park, after almost five hours drive from Reykjavik.
There was just several tents on the campsite so we could easily find a quiet place in distance from other tents. I placed the microphones 30 meters from the tent, started recording and fell asleep.
The following 25 minutes long recording is what happened next. It is nice soundscape of early spring in Iceland without noise from human activity.
Many bird species are audible in this recording. Common snipe, Whimbrell, Red-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, European Golden Plover, European, Oystercatcher, Whooper Swan, Redwing, Meadow Pipit and Rock Ptarmigan. There are probably many other bird species audible in this recording which I have not a clue the names on.
The recording this morning was about 6 hours long so I will probably continue to publish more of it later one.
Thanks to the Friends of Vatnajokull who made this rercording trip possible.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low level.

Vor í Skaftafelli 2014

Það voru nokkuð þreyttir menn sem mættu á tjaldsvæðið í Skaftafelli rétt fyrir kl 4 að nóttu þann 20. maí 2014.
Fáir voru á svæðinu svo það var auðvelt að finna stað fyrir tjaldið. Áður en gengið var til náða voru hljóðnemar settir upp 30 metrum frá tjaldinu og upptaka látin ganga langt fram undir morgun.
Sú 25 mínútu langa upptaka sem hér fylgir hefst u.þ.b. 20 mínútum eftir að við vorum sofnaðir.
Á upptökunni má heyra í mörgum fuglategundum, þar á meðal í hrossagauk, spóa, skógarþresti, rjúpu, og álft sem og mörgum öðrum sem ég ætla að leyfa hlustendum um að þekkja og skrifa nöfnin á í ummælum hér fyrir neðan.
Þessari upptöku má þakka samtökunum Vinum Vatnajökuls sem gerðu það kleift að af þessari upptökuferð gat orðið.
Mælt er með því að hlusta á þessa upptöku í góðum heyrnartólum og á lágum hljóðstyrk.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 32,6Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOSM
Rec. Location: 64.016466, -16.973356

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