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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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I got a grant to record nature sounds in the Vatnajökull national park from the association “Friends of Vatnajökull”. It was not a trouble free trip, but anyway it was very instructive and I recorded many hours of very interesting and lovely sounds. Most of the recordings are long and unbroken. Some of them are up to 6 to 10 hours long so they contains many things I have never heard until now when I am registering the collection and searching for material to publish.
In 22nd of May I spent most of the day near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. I recorded around three hours in the lagoon with hydrophones. I was located close to the ejection because there it was most likely to catch some wild life activity.
When I started following recording the current was flowing out of the lagoon. Three or five seals were diving nearby between the icebergs which slowly were moving towards the ejection.
It was stunning when I put the hydrophones in the lagoon.
What a sound! It was much louder than I thought and was both stunning and frighten.
The several thousand years old ice was melting with cracks, screeches and scratching the bottom of the lake. Sometimes I could detect a deep rumble sound in a distance, probably when icebergs were scratching the bottom of the 200 meters deep lake. Comparing to all those loud sounds, everything was peaceful above the surface.

Hljóðin í Jökulsárlóni. 1. hluti

Ég fékk styrk s.l. vetur til að hljóðrita hljóðvist Vatnajökulsþjóðgarðs frá samtökunum  Vinum Vatnajökuls. Það gekk á ýmsu á meðan á því stóð en á endanum var ég komin með mikið af áhugaverðu og skemmtilegu efni. Mikið af þessum upptökum eru langar og ósltitnar eða 6-10 klst langar svo ég hef ekkert hlustað á fyrr en nú þegar ég stend í því að skrásetja upptökurnar.
Þann 22. maí var ég staddur við útfallið við Jökulsárlón og hljóðritaði undir yfirborði lónsins með vatnahljóðnemum. Bæði hljóð og hljóðstyrkur kom verulega á óvart. Þarna var aldagamall ísinn að bráðna með hvellum og ískri um leið og hann skrapaði botninn á leið sinni að útfallinu. Öðru hverju mátti heyra drunur einhvers staðar utan úr djúpi lónsins og stöku sinnum mátti heyra hljóð sem hugsanlega komu frá 3-5 selum sem syntu ekki langt frá upptökustaðnum.
Það var óneitanlega mun háværara niðri lóninu en á yfirborði þess.

Download MP3 file (192kbps / 34,4Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2a XLR
Pics: Canon Eos M (see more pictures)

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In February I went to Geysir in Haukadal with my recording gear.  The plan was to record the sound in Geysir and other hot springs in the area with hydrophones. But when I arrived it was both windy and freezing cold so I did not make as many recordings as I expected.
Anyway, I got some recordings that I mixed together in one 20 minutes session.
It started with eruption in hot spring named Strokkur. It usually erupts every five to ten minutes and is one of the most attractive things in the area today.
Then, we dived down to the tube of Geysir. It is now some decade since it erupted automatically so now it is just a quiet deep hole in the ground full of hot water.
Then Strokkur erupted again before we dived into the “blue side” of the hot spring Blesi.
After several minutes Strokkur erupted again and we dived into the ”deep side” of Blesi.
Then we went to the surface and listened to two eruptions on Strokkur in a fellowship with two tourists.

Geysir, Blesi og Strokkur.

Í febrúar gerði ég mér ferð í uppsveitir Árnessýslu með upptökutækin. Var komið við á stöðum eins og á Geysi þar sem hljóðnemar voru brúkaðir bæði ofan jarðar og neðan. Vegna roks, kulda og myrkurs náðist ekki að hljóðrita allt það sem til stóð, en eftir stóðu þó upptökur sem hér hafa verið dregnar saman í stutta 20 mínutna langa hljóðmynd.

Download mp3 file (192Mbps / 29Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Aquarian H2a-XLR & Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF)
Pics: Canon EOS M (see more pictures)

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The summer 1978 I got a job at Sogsvirkjanir power stations, about 50 km east of Reykjavik capital. There are three power stations close to each other in the river Sog south of Þingvallavatn lake.
This place was familiar to me because my grandparents lived at a nearby farm, Efri Brú.
For me, as a tanager, this summer was very important. It was the time to decide what I would like to do for a living; a technician, farmer, engineer, or something else. I was not sure.
My job at Sogsvirkjanir was miscellaneous, gardening, cleaning and painting. But what interested me most was working in the power stations when generators were shut down for cleaning and overhauling. As a thin, lithe teenager I was used to go into and work inside places in the generators where older, fatter and stiffer engineers could not access or work. Afterwards I think it was very damaging environment for my health. Working almost every day with 1,1,1Trichloroethane and other toxic liquids with useless mask. But in these days nobody took care of it, and I did not take care of it either.
All this machineries fascinated me so I decided to start learning electrician in the autumn 1978.
The following recording is a combination of five recordings I made in and around Ljósafoss power station the summer 2013. This is the oldest power station in the river and was built on my grandfather’s land 1934. The birdsong in the recording is from a nearby county at Laugarvatn which is my grandmothers’ birthplace. It reminds me of my childhood at my grandparent’s farm, especially in the swamp behind the cowshed, so it is worth to keep it with this recording.
Even though all these sounds gives me some nice memories, they sound also far in my mind. It feels like a memory from my “last life”, not something that happened in my life about 40 years ago. Every thing has changed fast in this county. My grandparents are long gone and almost all farming in the county too. Land in many places has been broken up in peaces for cottages. Farming and animals have disappeared.
Instead of narrow gravel roads, all roads now have asphalt. Fast driving, noisy traffic, day and night seems to be the only human activity.
Sadly, in just thirty years, this beautiful countryside has changed into “American style suburb”
The following recording gives you a flight as a ghost, or a spirit from my grandparents farm to Ljósafoss power station. Your flight goes above and through water, concrete and steel. It starts over the reservoir, then trough the intake, penstock, power house, transformer and to the outflow canal.
The flight ends as it starts with “quiet bird song” far away from the nosy power station.

Miningar frá sumrinu 1978.

Sumarið 1978 fékk ég sumarvinnu við Sogsvirkjanir. Þetta sumar varð mér heldur örlagaríkt, en þá tók ég ákvörðun um að læra rafvirjun. Eftirarandi hljóðmynd var tekin upp sumarið 2013 í og við Ljósafossstöð. Segja má að það sé í raun minningabrot frá sumrinu 1978 og þremur næstu sumrum á meðan ég vann þar við ýmis störf.

Download mp3 file (192kbps / 36,0Mb)

Recorder Sound devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF setup)
Pics. Canon EOS-M (more pictures)
Rafn sigurbjörnsson’s picture gallery

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About 30km east of Reykjavik capitol is Hellisheiðarvirkjun a geothermal power station. This power station uses energy from drilled wells in the surrounding area.
In the drilling process it is necessary to let the wells “breath” or “blow” for a while. When it happens it is extremely noisy when the energy is wasted into the atmosphere, mostly as a hot steam in mixture with toxic gas like carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and also substantial quantities of hydrogen (H2). Other gases such as nitrogen (N2), methane (CH4) and argon (Ar) are in the gas mixture, but in lesser extent.
The rumbling noise from blowing wells is so loud that it can be easily heard in far distances (up to 20-30km, depends of condition).
It was easily audible when I was on my way east of Reykjavik on a cycle trip last summer. I was cycling Nesjavallavegur (road) when I decided to record this noise. The power station was in about 10 km distance, but the blowing wells were somewhere between in 10-15km distance, probably behind the mountain Hengill.
This recording was made at 3am, 24th of July 2013 at Mosfellsheiði. The weather was calm, but cold, very humid and fogy.
Keep in mind, this is a “quiet nature recording” so you should not play it loud. On the field the birdsong was barely audible.

Orkusóun

Hér er á ferðinni upptaka frá því 24. júlí 2013, þegar ég fór í stutt helgarferðalag austur fyrir Fjall. Þegar ég lagði af stað var vel liðið á kvöld og skollin á blaut og köld þoka.
Þegar á Nesjavallaveginn var komið varð ég var við miklar drunur ofan af Hellisheiði en þar blés borhola út orku og eiturgasi engum til gagns. Drunurnar virtust fylla loftið fremur en að koma úr tiltekinni átt svo ímyndunaraflið fékk að blómstra. Það var ekki laust við að maður léti hugann reika, því þar sem maður átti að venjast þögn á þessum tíma sólahringsins voru nú þungar drunur allt um liggjandi sem hér um bil kaffærðu söng sumarfuglanna. Nálægð við helvíti eða heimsendi var manni efst í huga þar sem maður sniglaðist einsamall eftir veginum fremur kaldur og blautur í dimmri þokunni.
Rétt eftir að hæstu hæð Mosfellsheiðar var náð ákvað ég að staldra við og taka upp þetta sérkennilega andrúmsloft sem þarna ríkti þessa júlínótt.

Download Mp3 file (192kbps / 28,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Pics: Canon EOS M (see more pictures)

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Nothing could be further from the heady drama of his opera „Faust“ than Gounod‘s cheerful, melodious „Little Symphony for Wind“. Its infectious nonchalance and easy gracefulness has made it a favorite with amateur as well as professional wind players. Though it was written when the composer was 70 years old and has the formal structure of a classical symphony, ever one of its four movements breathes youthful gaiety and Gallic charm. The second movement, Adagio, is a lyrical, finely sustained melody, mainly for flute. The final Scherzo, with its bright, staccato, syncopated theme, is remarkably „modern“ for its time, and shows that Gounod was keeping a weather eye on his younger contemporaries*.
This recording was made the 23rd of November 2013 with members of Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra in Seltjarnarnes church. Keep in mind that the orchestra comprises mostly those who earn their living in occupations other than music so this is a perfect performance.
This is a binaural recording with Sennheiser MKH8020 mounted into foam dummy head. The sound is rather harsh in some mid range frequencies and the reverb may have been better and lasted longer. This might be repaired in post, but I am not interested in such thing. Good recording is more important. I think this poor sound is mainly because the design of the hall (church). Also is the microphone placement difficult to change during the concert. But anyway this stereo recording is a nice example of binaural recording. Normally, headphone is required while listening, but in this recording the instruments in the performance are dancing nicely between the channels so it is nice to listen in both headphones and speakers.

Charles Gounod – Petite Symphonie

Hér er upptaka frá tónleikum Sinfóníusveitar áhugamanna í Seltjarnarneskirkju frá því 23. nóvember 2013. Er þetta lítil sinfónía eftir Charles Gounod sem hann samdi sjötugur að aldri árið 1885 fyrir níu blásturshljóðfæri.. Var það félagi hans og flautuleikarinn Poul Taffanel sem pantaði verkið sem sver sig í ætt við blásaraserenöður Mozarts.
Upptakan er gerð með svoköllaðu “binaural tækni” sem gengur út á að staðsetja hljóðnema í kúlu eða bolta sem líkist mannshöfði. Þannig má oft ná mjög skemmtilegum umhverfishljóðritunum sem oftar en ekki er best að hlusta á í góðum heyrnartólum.
Flutingur blásara á tónverkinu er afbragðs góður, en upptakan hefði alveg mátt vera betri. Miðjan er yfirmótuð á einhverjum tíðnum sem gerir hljóminn svolítið harðan á köflum. Gera má ráð fyrir að það reiknist að stærstum hluta til á eigin tíðni salarins. Þá hefði mátt vera meira eftirhljómur frá salnum. Þarna skiptir bæði salurinn og staðsetning hljóðnemanna miklu máli. En því miður er ekki hægt að finna bestu staðsetninguna á meðan á tónleikum stendur. Það getur því oftar en ekki varið hrein heppni að ná góðum upptökum með einfaldri steriotækni.
Hljóðfæraleikarar gáfu leyfi fyrir vefvæðingu hljóðritsins.

  Download mp3 file  (256kbps / 37Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH8020 (Binaural)

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In 27th July I decided to cycle with recording gear out of Reykjavik. It was late in the evening when I left my house. Just after I left the street lights, I cycled into dark, wet fog.
I was both whet and cold when I passed the fog on the highest peak of the road in the mountain Hengill.
I waited there almost for two hours in a very calm weather, just to enjoy the prospect. Noise from nearby hydroelectric plant filled the air with a powerful rumbling noise. Below, all around me, was this thick fog and a clear sky above.
I was getting tired when I saw the sun rice above the horizon around 4 am.  After several photo shots I decided to find a place to sleep and feed my recorder with “early morning summer sound”.
On my way, was a place named Hagavik, a very nice cove in the southwest of Þingvallavatn lake. When I arrived, the fog was still very thick. I spread out my bivi sack on a place I remembered I put up my tent for about 35 years ago, when this place was not so popular. It was now a filthy motorist parking and fish hunting place. But, just as in the past, the soundscape was glorious.
Two MKH20 was placed close to the lake and I went to sleep 10 meters away.
The time was about 5:40 in the morning and the atmosphere was very quiet in the fog when the recording start.

Hagavík við Þingvallavatn. 1. hluti

Þann 27. júlí nýtti ég síðustu daga sumarfrísins til að hjóla með upptökutækin austur fyrir fjall. Við Hagavík fann ég mér náttstað snemma morguns. Hljóðnemana setti ég við fjöruborðið en lagðust sjálfur í Bivi poka á grasbala sem var illa troðin eftir marga bíla. Veiðisóðar höfðu greinilega verið þarna á ferð því úldin beita, sígarettustubbar og annað rusl lá þar um allt. En hljóðmyndin og kyrrðin var dásamleg eins og vanalega, alveg þangað til bílaumferðin fór að aukast síðar um morguninn.

  Download mp3 file (192kbps / 35,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20. AB40 setup
Pics: EOS M (see picture from this bicycle trip)

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