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Posts Tagged ‘recording’

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Photo: Chris Livesay for NPR
A security guard blocks off the recording area outside the Violin Museum in Cremona, Italy, for a project to preserve every note of the Stradivarius violin.

When a whole town — or almost a whole town — gets on board to support an artistic project, the results can be impressive. I imagine that the key is to tap what matters to people. In this case, violins.

Christopher Livesay reported about the unusual preservation project at National Public Radio (NPR) in February.

“Inside the concert hall of the Violin Museum in Cremona, Italy, Antonio de Lorenzi plays the prelude from Bach’s Partita No. 3 on a Stradivarius violin. Cremona is the town where master luthier Antonio Stradivari crafted his storied instruments three centuries ago.

“But there’s no guarantee that his instrument’s inimitable sound will survive for centuries more, says Fausto Cacciatori, the museum’s chief conservator.

” ‘What will these instruments sound like in 200 years? I hope they can still be played,’ he says. ‘But you never know. All it takes is one unfortunate event. An earthquake, for instance. Think about what happened to so much art during World War II.’

“Cacciatori says Stradivarius instruments need a 21st century failsafe — and someone who understands music as well as technology to pull it off. Enter deejay Leonardo Tedeschi. …

“When he’s not spinning records, Tedeschi runs Audiozone, a northern Italian sound engineering firm. And he had an idea: ‘To bring the sound of Stradivari and make it accessible around the world,’ he says.

“The idea came to him in 2014, when he wanted to mix the analog sounds of Stradivarius violins in some of his own electronic recordings, but discovered the elements he needed were lacking. That’s when he reached out to the Violin Museum in Cremona, just a 45-minute drive from his native Piacenza, with a proposal.

“First, they would need to record Stradivarius instruments, and while they were at it, those of other master luthiers. Then they would have to save the recordings in a database that future composers could use to make their own music electronically.

“The Violin Museum, which was already concerned about preserving these sounds for future generations, agreed. … They would have to painstakingly record every possible note that can be played on each instrument.

” ‘Every possible note, and even more difficult, every note transition,’ explains Tedeschi. ‘From one note to all the other ones in the same string.’ …

“In the concert hall, Lorenzi, who is with the Italian Symphony Orchestra and has performed in the world’s top concert halls, plucks the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B and C — ‘do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do’ — on the Stradivarius violin. Then down the scale, until the engineers say they’ve got it. …

“He says, ‘It takes a lot of mental and physical concentration. It’s one of the most demanding things I’ve ever done.’

“But that meditative concentration is hard-won. Outside the museum, Tedeschi points out the thorn in his side.

“A rumble passes as a woman drags a suitcase across cobblestones. Then, the hiss of a street-sweeper machine. It’s what you’d expect in a city of 70,000 people, with a bustling open-air market and a population of typically boisterous Italians. …

” ‘Every time we hear this sound, the sound will mix with the frequency of our instruments, so we cannot use that sound in our product,’ Tedeschi laments.

“At the end of December, just before recording was set to begin, he went to the mayor of Cremona, Gianluca Galimberti, and asked for help. … The mayor asked the people of Cremona to please keep it down, and blocked traffic around the concert hall during recordings from Jan. 7 to Feb. 9.”

Did it work? Read more here.

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Photo: Ginny Fordham
Berklee professor Steve Wilkes gathers sound at the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. A recent project also captures Cape Cod.

Berklee professor Steve Wilkes and his collaborator David Masher have created some amazing soundscapes that capture the music of the natural world. Their work is described at the Hear the Forest website:

“Hear The Forest is an effort to initiate the process of building an aural-map – essentially, an audio time capsule – of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.  Supported by the National Forest Service and the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, this work will be performed by Berklee College of Music Professor, Steve Wilkes, as part of the 2017 Artist-in-residence program. …

“In addition to his field ecology and sound recording work, Wilkes will offer several public programs, including workshops that will provide residents and visitors with information on contributing to the ongoing sound file collection on the White Mountain National Forest. …

“ ‘I hope to be able to express and communicate to others this profound sense of inspiration – and to help everyone slow down a bit, and really listen,’ ” Wilkes says. More here.

You might also like hear an interesting interview with Wilkes that was broadcast at WGBH. The station provides this intro: “Nature is rich with dynamic sounds, like the roaring of waterfalls or the sweetness of birdsong.

“Berklee professor Steve Wilkes … captured the still whispers of buzzing bugs, the martian-like atmosphere at the summit of Mount Washington and the laughter of children enjoying the park — all essential sounds to create a ‘digital aural map’ of the forest, which he calls Hear The Forest. Callie Crossley speaks with Wilkes about his project.” More here.

I like the idea of encouraging others to contribute their own nature recordings to the White Mountains project. It feels like something anyone could do if they just paid attention — and paying attention is the whole idea.

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The website Narratively just alerted me to something cool from StoryCorps, a feature I generally hear on National Public Radio (NPR).

According to the StoryCorps website, “The first-ever animated feature from StoryCorps, Listening Is an Act of Love, presents six stories from 10 years of StoryCorps, where everyday people sit down together to ask life’s important questions and share stories from their lives. Framing these intimate conversations is an interview between StoryCorps founder Dave Isay and his nine-year-old nephew, Benji.

Listening Is an Act of Love will be broadcast by public television stations nationwide. … on varying dates through February 2014. Can’t wait until the animated special airs on your local station? Watch on PBS Roku and Apple TV channels — available on DVD, too!” More here.

(At ny1.com, here, you can read how recording people’s stories caused Isay to take a permanent detour from his medical school ambitions.)

Do you have favorite StoryCorps stories? Have you ever created one?

I have a tape of my father reading the Kipling story “The Elephant’s Child” and poems he loved like “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” which always choked him up. But if you do a StoryCorps story, you get it archived at the Library of Congress — probably more permanent than my old cassette tape.

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Longtime readers may recall I took a playwriting class a couple years ago. One of the assignments — which I blogged about here — was to listen in on a conversation in a public place and write it down word for word. Very awkward, but a good lesson in the random way people really talk.

Now the artist/cabby Daniel J. Wilson has taken the concept to an extreme, recording customers’ conversations and using them in his art.

Matt Flegenheimer writes at the NY Times that while driving a taxi in New York, Wilson “secretly recorded the conversations of his passengers, assembled the highlights into an audio collage of the back-seat musings and installed the final product in his taxi, playing the clips for his riders …

“ ‘It’s this world where people act like you don’t exist, even though you’re three feet away,’ Mr. Wilson, 35, said from the front seat of his cab recently. ‘You get this fragment of a person.’ ” More.

Much has been done with the invisibility theme in literature: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the powerful Mammy in The Sound and the Fury, the murderer disguised as an “invisible” waiter in an Agatha Christie novel — you can probably come up with more.

The Times article discusses the invasion of privacy. I think invasion of privacy might be the penalty for treating humans as invisible.

Photo: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Victoria Reis, left, called Daniel J. Wilson’s audio collage “the least pretentious and most experimental” work she had seen all week, and tipped him.

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Living on Earth, a national radio program produced in Somerville, Massachusetts, has interviewed an interesting guy who makes audio recordings of nature.

He may record, for example, what a woodland sounds like before a logging company comes in and what it sounds like after clear cutting. He may record the sounds of insects in trees. He says it is nearly impossible to get away from man-made sounds when recording nature.

Listening to his recordings early this morning resulted in my listening for the birds more on the walk I took later. (And I turned to see a very jubilant cardinal.)

“Few have heard the world as Bernie Krause has. Originally trained as a musician, he spent years recording the most famous musicians of the 1960s and 70s. Then he left the studio to explore the origins of music in nature. Krause has recorded wild sounds in places few have ever been or even dreamed of. Living on Earth’s Ike Sriskandarajah listens in.” Listen here or read transcript.

Krause calls his field of study soundscape ecology. Here is his new book, The Great Animal Orchestra.

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