4/16/11

the air full of song

A project for today I've had in mind for quite a while; I went on an extended walk around my neighborhood (a dense maze of hilly winding lanes and back streets, populated by a mix of working-class folk, retirees and young professionals), recording as many different sets of windchimes as possible.
This turned out to be much trickier than I thought: besides the most obvious technical problem (that is, when windchimes make sound, it's because there's WIND blowing, usually right at the microphone), there's the issue of how to get close to people's porches without being observed creeping around. There's also cars, people, lawnmowers, and dogs generally everywhere--it seems many people who like windchimes also like irritatingly yappy dogs, which says something about how much they value their own aural comfort over that of passers-by. There are also a number of people who really REALLY love windchimes, who collect and display a dozen different whimsical sets on a porch glassed in on three sides onto which nary a breeze will ever blow. And a girl with a recorder might wait for ten minutes for an artsy-glass-metal-sculpted chime thing to make a sound, as it stubbornly refuses to yield to the most vigorous breezes.

Anyway, real world sound-gathering is fun, but a bit involved; I tried to look less sketchy hanging out front of people's houses by holding the recorder to my head like it was a phone (as if that could fool anyone), or by putting it on the ground and pretending to tie my shoes. Hmm.

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