Echoes of South Kensington Station

South Kensington Tube station is the gateway to some of London’s famous museums – the Natural History museum, the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museum. To save people getting wet or wrangling the traffic along Exhibition Road, there is a long pedestrian walkway from the station to the museums.

It has a fabulous acoustic, one that’s enjoyed by small children, buskers and field recordists alike! I went to university at Imperial College and used this tunnel often. Even now, the soundmark takes me back to student times…

Here’s the sound of a busker using the acoustic well, and some kids enjoying the tunnel later on

Robins at Alderman Canal

There is a little nature reserve by the canal near the football ground, an oasis of calm. The water is sluggish with green on top apart from where the water seems to well up from the river bed in these gently roiling clear pools. I don’t think the water makes any sound here, there is some background traffic noise which would mask it.

The nature reserve was improved by the Access to Nature project in 2012. It’s easy to be cynical about some of these projects but this one seems to have worked really well, and there was a lot more birdsong in this part of path by the canal than in the unimproved bits.

Swifts getting ready to leave

Seems like it’s been a successful year for our swifts, they have been breeding and screaming parties are heard overhead.

They’re still as hard to record as they were last year, however there are more of them it seems. I got the AT XY mics on the job this time. Maybe next year I will try a seriously long boom pole to get the mic pointed straight up in the air and use the directional pattern against some of the noise and traffic rumble of the town, but I’m still of the view swifts sound best in the city!

The sound of ball bearings seizing up

There’s a characteristic sound of bearings seizing up, and I first came across this with car wheel-bearings – they screech for weeks before going, but car sounds are hard to localise. Feeling the massive heft to the right in the fast lane of the A12 as the driver’s side wheel-bearing collapses and jams means I know that this sound means a bearing on the way out, even if here it is only on a neighbour’s Flymo 🙂

Continue reading “The sound of ball bearings seizing up”

World Listening Day 2013

It’s R. Murray Schafer‘s birthday today. In 1973 he research the Vancouver soundscape, later extending it to compare five European villages from a soundscape point of view.

The research became the basis of ‘Acoustic Ecology’, a discipline that R. Murray Schafer developed to further investigate ‘soundscapes’, which are understood as the sonic interface between living beings and their environment.

World Listening Day is held on his birthday to celebrate Schafer’s contribution to the art of listeing to the world, rather than just hearing it. I’ve usually aimed to try and isolate sounds, other than in the lo-fi urban environment where you just can’t do that. However, in tribute to R. Murray Schafer’s ideas, I had a go, starting off with the birds at dawn. It’s a bit past the time for the classic dawn chorus, but these birds in a semi-rural location in Rushmere made a decent attempt at a soundscape for me.

XY recording


For a change I tried an urban field recording at Ipswich Marina, this recording starts with oystercatchers at the beginning, to the right is the sound of some construction work that has been restarted after a couple of years. A woman in a RIB motors to her boat moored somewhere in the marina which is mainly to the left. Some foot and bicycle traffic passes. The waterfront has been redeveloped for leisure over the last decade.

Binaural recording with Soundman OKMII

Finally I gave in to the separator in me and recorded the sound of this tarmac laying crew and their machine, in particular the backing up sound.

The reversing sound is an electronic noise played through speaker, which highlighted one of the issues R. Murray Shafer picked up – Continue reading “World Listening Day 2013”

Goods Train from Felixstowe, Ipswich St Mary’s

I have some time to do more recording now. Okay, so it’s not hyper-original recording trains but I liked the screech of the wheel flanges as it rounds a fairly gentle bend. I was at the same level as the track across a dip due to the lie of the land

goods train through the trees

Also a chance to see how this Audioboo thing works… which seems to be pretty well 2018 update – they decided to start charging $9.99 a month. You must be kidding, guys, I may as well pay WordPress £33 a year to be able to get audio facility. There’s no low-end offering.