I am used to feed birds daily in my garden with all kinds of leftovers.
There are always some birds that watch my garden every day, and when they see me in the garden, some starling give a high pitch signal and some of them fly away. But shortly after that they come back with a flock of other birds, normally common starlings and redwings. Some birds like one blackbird and some redwings are now extra gentle around me while I prepare the food in the garden.
Christmas day, 25th of December 2016, was just like another „feeding day“. But it was snowing, so the traffic noise wash less than usual and therefore a perfect day to record a birds activity.
This recording starts slowly. Just few birds have arrived when the recording starts. But in the end the birds have eaten almost everything and they start singing, packed in the trees all a around my house.
Pablo Sarasate was born 10 March 1844 in Pamplona, Navarre, the son of an artillery bandmaster. He began studying the violin with his father at the age of five and later took lessons from a local teacher. His musical talent became evident early on and he appeared in his first public concert in A Coruña at the age of eight.
His performance was well-received, and caught the attention of a wealthy patron who provided the funding for Sarasate to study under Manuel Rodríguez Saez in Madrid, where he gained the favor of Queen Isabella II. Later, as his abilities developed, he was sent to study under Jean-Delphin Alard at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of twelve.
There, at seventeen, Sarasate entered a competition for the Premier Prix and won his first prize, the Conservatoire’s highest honour. (There was not another Spanish violinist to achieve this until Manuel Quiroga did so in 1911; Quiroga was frequently compared to Sarasate throughout his career.)
Sarasate, who had been publicly performing since childhood, made his Paris debut as a concert violinist in 1860, and played in London the following year. Over the course of his career, he toured many parts of the world, performing in Europe, North America, and South America. His artistic pre-eminence was due principally to the purity of his tone, which was free from any tendency towards the sentimental or rhapsodic, and to that impressive facility of execution that made him a virtuoso. In his early career, Sarasate performed mainly opera fantasies, most notably the Carmen Fantasy, and various other pieces that he had composed. The popularity of Sarasate’s Spanish flavour in his compositions is reflected in the work of his contemporaries. For example, the influences of Spanish music can be heard in such notable works as Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole which was dedicated to Sarasate; Georges Bizet’s Carmen; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, written expressly for Sarasate and dedicated to him.
Of Sarasate’s idiomatic writing for his instrument, the playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw once declared that though there were many composers of music for the violin, there were but few composers of violin music. Of Sarasate’s talents as performer and composer, Shaw said that he „left criticism gasping miles behind him“. Sarasate’s own compositions are mainly show-pieces designed to demonstrate his exemplary technique. Perhaps the best known of his works is Zigeunerweisen (1878), a work for violin and orchestra. Another piece, the Carmen Fantasy (1883), also for violin and orchestra, makes use of themes from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. Probably his most performed encores are his two books of Spanish dances, brief pieces designed to please the listener’s ear and show off the performer’s talent. He also made arrangements of a number of other composers’ work for violin, and composed sets of variations on „potpourris“ drawn from operas familiar to his audiences, such as his Fantasia on La forza del destino (his Opus 1), his „Souvenirs of Faust“, or his variations on themes from Die Zauberflöte. In 1904 he made a small number of recordings. In all his travels Sarasate returned to Pamplona each year for the San Fermín festival.
Sarasate died in Biarritz, France, on 20 September 1908, from chronic bronchitis. He bequeathed his violin, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1724, to the Musée de la Musique. The violin now bears his name as the Sarasate Stradivarius in his memory. His second Stradivari violin, the Boissier of 1713, is now owned by Real Conservatorio Superior de Música, Madrid. Among his violin pupils was Alfred De Sève. The Pablo Sarasate International Violin Competition is held in Pamplona. (Wikipedia)
Following recording Zigeunerweisen is performed by Chrissie Telma Guðmundsdóttir (violin) and The Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra directed by Oliver Kentish.
This was recorded at Seltjarnarnes Church 16th of October 2016.
Thanks to Oliver and Chrissie who gave me a permission to publish this recording on the web.
(320Mbps / 24,4Mb)
Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Neumann KM184 (NOS) & Line Audio OM1 (AB40) in 3m above orchestra. Sennheiser MKH20 for bass and Line Audio CM3 on soloist (Chrissie).
Svínafellsjökull icefall lay in a valley between Svínafellsheiði and Hafrafell. It is an icefall from Öræfajökull which is the highest mountain/glacier in Iceland around 2109 meters high.
I spent several nights beneath Svínafellsjökull icefall in May, both 2015 and 2016, recording 8-10 hours overnight recording. I was always trying to capture iceberg breakdown into the glacier lagoon, because last time I record it in 2014 it was disturbed with huge tsunami.
But most of the breakdown was probably somewhere between 1300-1700 meters, high in the mountain.
Anyway, during the night when traffic goes down and the weather was calm, it was always interesting to listen to the glacier in the „silence“. It starts like a thunder with low frequency rumble, high in the mountains. Then a strange „white noise“ falls slowly down the the wally, all the way to the end of the icefall toe. I am still not sure if it was an echo from the mountain or some crawling sound from the glacier. But it was so slow that I am almost sure that it is was not an echo from surrounding mountains.
But this is not what you will hear in the following recording. After one of this overnight recording in 15th of May 2016 I decided to record near to a frozen pond close to the glacier’s toe. The time was around eight o´clock in the morning so the tourist traffic had not began to disturb the soundscape. The temperature was just below zero, but the morning sun was already melting the ice in the area. The soundscape was amazing. With closed eyes it sounds like a busy place with bunch of small elves. Small trickle, ticks and cracks makes the soundscape worth to listen and to record.
At 17th minute the glacier start to crawl and then again one minute later with low frequency rumble.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.
Wind is very often the recordist´s enemy. Especially if the rumbling noise of „hammering membrane“ is not acceptable.
Some recordists may say this rumbling noise is just normal. Everyone will hear similar rumbling noise when they stay in wind.
For me it sounds like „clipping distortion“.
Wind protection is one of the most important thing for nature recordings, especially in the country where wind below 3m/sec. is almost unique.
I have tried several wind protections. My own, Rode Blimp and Rycote Softie and Modular series. All of them sounds similar. So it was welcomed when Rycote introduced the Cyclone windshield. Cyclone have Floating Basket Suspension, which is very nice. Until now, it has been only be used in the overpriced Cinela products.
Rode NT1a is one of the best cardioid microphones available today for nature recording. But sadly it is not build for outdoor use, so it has some poor futures like handling noise.
So when I choose it on the field, it has been important to keep it in Rycote modular windshield, place it close to the ground (sadly very often too close) and pray for completely calm weather. Then pray again for nice outcome.
I per-order a pair of Cyclone mini windshield last summer and got it in mid September. My plan was to fix them with parallel MKH20/40. But I also gave my modified NT1a a try when I saw it was almost „plug and play“ to fix it .
Without fur Cyclone was not far from to be equal to Rycote modular series with fur. But when Cyclone was dressed in fur the rumbling noise almost disappeared in wind around 5-7 m/s. That was a huge success.
Following recording is a short part of overnight recording from Stafholtstungur, in the west of Iceland. The gust goes up to ca. 7m/sec. and the recorder HPF was set at 80Hz. The rig is about 1 meter above the ground.
Some rumble noise is audible in this recording, but some of it could as well be a vibration from the tripod. Keep it in mind this is NT1a which is particularly sensitive for handling noise.
I will spend more time to test this setup but it looks like I need to order another pair for my MKH20/40 rig.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.
Hjalteyri is a small village on the western shores of Eyjafjörður, fjord in north of Iceland.
It all began when the Norwegians started salting herring around 1880 and the village Hjalteyri was confirmed by law as a trading post in 1897. Swedes, Scots and Germans would fish there in the following years but all foreigners had left by 1914.
The Icelandic fishing company Kveldulfur was active there from 1914 and in 1937 built the largest herring factory in Europe at Hjalteyri, which ran until 1966. The company also built many of the beautiful residential buildings that still stand in the village, such as the house of Thor Jensen, the founder of the company, and Asgardur, where the head of the factory lived.
The herring disappeared from the fishing grounds in the 1960s and Kveldulfur thus left as well. Fishing from small boats increased. Today, at Hjalteyri is a harbor and a small fishing industry, the drying of fish heads and aquaculture are the mainstay of the economy. During the summer months the buildings of the old herring factory are often used as a venue for art exhibitions. Around 40 people lives there today. There is also a pretty big Arctic Tern colony which brings also many other bird species to the area.
The following recording was captured in 8th of July 2015. It is 25 minutes of 6 hours long overnight recording.
This is one of my recording where I probably should have used another microphones because of the noise source in the surrounding. In this case a „fan noise“ from the factory. I use cardioid mics so the noise is only on the left side, instead of omni which would have brought the noise more to both sides and made the listening more pleasant in headphones.
So now I would recommend to listen to this recording in speakers in low-mid level, instead of headphones.
(256kbps / 46Mb)
Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics: Rode NT1a in NOS setup
Location: 65.853976, -18.194666
Weather: Calm up to 4m N, almost clear sky, temp around 8-12°C
It sounds a bit stupid to record silence. But if the equipment can capture something in the silence you can not hear with your bare ears, then it can be very interesting. For instance, you never know what you will see when you look into the deep space with telescope. You never know what you will hear in the silence with a low noise microphone.
I will not define all my views of different silence, but for sure, silence is never completely quiet and it is my favourite recording material.
Best time to get „silence“ is normally during the night in calm weather after sunny day (like this one). In such moments temperature waves are also calm or in layers, so sound can travel long distances without being disturbed. Noise from one car can travel up to 30 km in open field and if you hear it with your bare ears it will be clearly audible through most quality recording gear today. Amplifying sound with low noise microphone, works like a telescope. It drags weak sound far away closer to your ears. In places where you need to hold your breath to hear probably only your heart beat, it can be a very busy place in your headphones.
But there is also other kind of silence. It is on hot sunny days when wind blows and the air is very unstable. Sound normally does not travel long distances in such circumstances.
One of these days was 18th of July 2016 on the World Listening Day. I was traveling on Kjölur, west highland route in Iceland. The sun was shining all day and the wind was blowing from the south. I took of the main rode and followed a track into Kjalhraun lava field. My plan was to find the mysterious Beinahóll (Bone hill) and the field where Reynistaðabræður (Reynisstada brothers) and almost 200 sheeps lost their lives in a insane weather in September 1780. It is still possible to find bones on this field so for a long time I have bin interested in this tragic story.
But the track through the lava was too ruff for my car so I kept on by food.
Many times for almost three decades it has been my plan to find this place while travelling by bike over Kjölur. I never did it because I was always wearing a green jacket and for superstitions reasons it has been told dangerous.
This time I did not find Beinahól. Instead I started recording the silence in the lava.
The weather was a typical sunny „midday silence“, where the thermal heat from the sun makes the air unstable so sound waves did not travel long distances.
This was one of these days I did not hear any plains or car traffic, even though Kjölur main route was not far away. When I held my breath, I only did hear weak bird song in the distance and some flies around. Because the mics are located close to the ground, you will also hear the wind wipe the ruff lava surface.
This recording is captured with MKH20 microphones and SD744 recorder. Gain was set at 56dB and HPF 80Hz. In post the gain was again raised about 25dB. Below 20Hz and above 10Khz the freq. was pulled down by 25dB.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Hold your breath while listening 🙂
(256Kbps / 46Mb)
Recorder: Sound devices 744
Mics Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 setup)
Weather. Sunny, about 18°C, calm up to 3 m/s in gusts
Recording location: 64.77883, -19.42805
When I use boom in recording I have used Audio Technica BP4025 stereo mic in Rycote windshield. It is not too heavy and it gives me stereo recordings. But very often I have been disappointed with the „musical“ sound quality, so I don´t often get quality ambiance recordings with this setup. Saying that, it does not mean BP4025 is a bad mic. BP4025 has a very low noise floor. It is the perfect mic for special circumstances like where size does matter and for very quiet environment/nature recordings.
DPA4060 is a pretty sounding miniature mic, sold in pairs and much lighter than any original stereo mic on the market. That means it is perfect to use for boom recordings. But because DPA4060 is an omni mic it is necessary to separate the capsules to get stereo. It is done in two ways. Separate the capsules with space (around 40cm) to get time difference, or place them in two sides of some sonic baffle materials.
The BP4025 was in a short Rycote WS2 windshield which has overall length (wide) 34cm. So it was important to place the capsules each side of some baffle material to get acceptable wide stereo.
I end up with a simple „binaural“ project I made out of wooden leftover (see pictures).
I decided not to use silicon artificial human ears because the ears will change the frequency curve at 2,5Khz and 5,5Khz, which means I needed to fix the EQ afterwards on all recordings made with this rig.
The result was stunning. The rig I made was lighter and better wight balanced than previous BP4025 setup. The overall wight is only 750gr (mics+wood baffle+WS2 basked+fur). It also gives me wider „stereo image“. But best of all, it withstands wind- and handling noise much better than previous BP4025 setup.
Following recordings are 4 and were made in three locations. The two first one are waves on seashore, then one from a cliff, 300 m above sea level with seabirds and the last one is from a football game in Reykjavik. All where recorded on Sound devices 744.
All recordings are straight from the recorder. Just cut and paste, fade in and out and then down grade from WAV to mp3.
(256kbps / 29Mb)
The two first recordings are big and then small waves. The mic have fur, HPF is off and gain at 45db. The mics are faced from the beach to the fjords. You will hear car pass by „behind“ the mic. Notice, you will hear a short „drop out“ when it pass. It is because it passes my car which was located on the road side. See location.
In the cliff recording the mic is without fur. It is possible to hear how strong gust sounds on the Rycote basket, but that is anyway much better (or different) than the my previous BP4025 setup. HPF at 40Hz and gain at 45dB. The boom with the mic reaches the cliff edge about one meter. See location.
The last recording is from a football game celebration in downtown Reykjavik. No fur, HPF at 40Hz and gain at 40dB. The mic stood on a boom about 1 meter above the crowds head. See location.