Friday, 27 May 2011
NB. standard contact microphones are of course still available - click here
Monday, 23 May 2011
Monday, 2 May 2011
JrF: when & why did you become interested in field recording ?
ST: In my childhood I had access to a cupboard containing a collection of bird songs stored on 7 inch vinyls; every now and again I played-back these records. This might have been first episodes of hearing field recordings – a specific kind though. I remember not only having heard a certain bird call portrayed but also an atmosphere of sound the bird song was surrounded by. I often went to ‚ear trips’ to the woods finding life situations instead of listening to stored examples at home. In the eighties I must have heard for the first time Luc Ferrari’s Le lever du jour au bord de la mer to name a reference. Some years later at the mediterranean sea the piece came to my mind again while listening to the cikadas creating complex polyrhythmic structures. I see these listening experiences as antecedents to my field recordings.
I made my first recordings in the early nineties with the cheap equipment of a sony walkman. I was experimenting with hollow objects being used outside as filters while recording.
The reason why I was interested in field recording had to do with my early interest in any acoustic phenomena. Those of the traditional instruments like recorder or cello were not enough to satisfy my curiosity about sound. Finding, listening and also creating acoustic situations were as important as the learning of ‚proper’ notes.
JrF: how do you use your field recordings in your own artistic output ?
ST: My field recordings are bound to scores written beforehand serving as an outline to be interpreted by anyone. Today one of my artistic output is the realization of scores through field recording. I use my recordings in an untreated way except applying slight filtering for low registers. It has to do with microphones often having a tendency to overcaracterize the low parts of the acoustic spectrum. I do not assemble the recordings to form a composition as an artistic enhancement. I like things how they happen to be - thus when recording with a certain equipment things are already changed by the combination of the device and the object observed. In other words any recording of any acoustic situation may be seen as an act of interpretation.
What I do sometimes is performing several recordings at one site. I am interested in hearing various versions of one location. What I like about field recording is its theoretical impossibility of an exact repetition. The process of collecting many recordings of one location alludes to the fact of infinite possibilities.
I have written my score ‚an ort, 1-9’ in order to apply a limiter to the possibilities offered. The piece consists of nine recordings each of the same duration following each other.This leads to the formatting of the work as a whole. (nb. a realisation of this score by Stefan himself is available as a limited edition release on the . point engraved label: http://engravedglass.blogspot.com/ )
JrF: do you regard 'natural' sounds as a musical element (bearing in mind that the conventional definition of 'music' is rapidly becoming obsolete) or as sound ? is this definition important ? does it matter ?
ST: The ingredients or basic materials forming a musical work have been enlarged to theoretically every sound available in the world. As long as ‚natural’ sounds are just happening in the world detached from any other involvement they do not serve as musical elements. But what if someone is listening to the sound of let’s say the wind? The act of listening deals with the perception of a sounding world – it is open to the recipients to decide whether to call it sound or music following their cultural backgrounds.
Thinking over listening experiences as described before: yes, to me what you call ‚natural sounds’ serve as a musical element. Music is created again and again with every artistic
involvement in sound. I am constantly surrounded by sound and eventually depending on the situation sounds serve as a musical elements.
JrF: has the act of making field recording had an effect (positive or negative) on the way you listen to your everyday surroundings and how has it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
ST: My involvement into field recording has affected my approach to everyday surroundings especially when going for walks outside. When walking or riding outside I like to remain still for a moment of time allowing myself to immerse into the sounding world. I often try to immagine how an atmosphere encountered would sound through speakers. Listening outside is very much influenced by other senses aside the sense of hearing: seeing, smelling, feeling temperature and wind contribute to the overall sensation outside. When recording sound outside and then playing it back through headphones or speakers the attention is focused on the sense of hearing at first. There is a potential in recorded sound to provoke visions and thoughts about space, time and eventually other sensations as well. By applying the medium of sound recording a great deal of the atmosphere encountered is missing and this is what makes recordings somehow disturbing and attractive at the same time.
Sometimes I let run recordings at home along my daily life keeping the doors open. I go from one room to another and therefor I hear the recordings from different angles and distances and also intermingled with other sound sources. In such moments recorded sound changes my perception of everyday surroundings and leads to expanded listening experiences.