Field Recording: The Bach

Here in New Zealand there are a couple of great websites that make travelling more affordable & accessible, but more importantly are also a source of some interesting sounds. Book a Bach and Holiday Homes both serve the same purpose that the Air BnB website does internationally, and that is to hook up travellers with places to stay i.e. empty holiday homes (I’ll leave couch surfing to the more adventurous) I haven’t used Air BnB but I’ve used the two local ones a lot, not so much to rent expensive gin palaces but more to find the classic New Zealand bach in some remote specific location… And thats what I did a few weekends ago in Patea.

I had driven through Patea a number of times and had researched the possiblities for taking photos, so when I checked the address of this particular bach on Google Earth, I knew it was going to be old school! End of one of the very few streets, right beside the river, one block from the beach! And old school it was:

Ain’t nobody winning any architecture awards for it, but character it obviously had by the truckload. And we like character… See, the great thing with old baches & holiday homes is that they are often owned by a family who are keen to help pay the rates etc when they aren’t using it themselves. And some of the baches on those sites are classic; creaky old beach side shacks, likely built back in the 1950s or 1960s and pragmatically maintained ever since….

This particular one in Patea was a stones throw from the beach and about 50m from the river, with a boat ramp right beside it. I arrived early evening on a Saturday night & a group of locals had already set up for a little party, at a picnic table by the riverside. But the really odd thing was I could hear them very clearly but I couldn’t see them, due to the bushes & shrubs on that side of the garden. Of course someone at the party had an acoustic guitar & the party seemed to veer from drunken ranting to atonal sing alongs… So of course what did I do? Set up some mics and left the recorder rolling for an hour or so… Realistic party crowd soudns are very useful, especially when they are real and to get reasonably clean recordings AND in an exterior location is also very handy – they’ll find a place in a movie in the future…. “Drunken party background take 1….”

But despite having no specific plans, that wasn’t the sound I expected find in such places – its more often great creaky doors or floorboards, weirdly functioning appliances… and the sound of the environment on the house…. And for the next 2 days I was far more focused on getting outside & enjoying the beach & shooting photos – I noticed sounds but I didn’t stop to record them… But the on last day the wind picked up & I suddenly became aware of a whole new sound that this bach helped create… Check that roof:

That chimney was connected to what in winter would be a godsend, a little woodburner… In summer it doesn’t see any use, but if you ever visit a house with a woodburner make a mental note that it is a source of some VERY useable sounds.

The sound of the wind hitting that chimney sounded fantastic to the ear, but via the contact mics? Magic!

But also note, the metal door on woodburners is a VERY useful source of metal groans & creaks, which as a sound effects editor you can simply never have enough of….

Being an old house located almost at water level also meant the water system was a little funky – god knows where the water was draining to – hopefully not directly into the river but maybe only a few steps removed… And the first time I had a shower I noticed how resonant the gurgle on the bath was… So once I had the mics out I filled up the bath a bit, pulled the plug & marvelled at how long the outlet glurped for – if I hadn’t been recording I would have started playing along with it, such a weird rhythm at the end!?!

Lastly, my apartment does not have curtains – not really my choice, it has blinds & I’ve replaced some of them with shoji… but any number of times I’ve needed to edit the sound of curtains & as this bach seemed to have about a dozen varieties I couldn’t help but record those too… maybe partly motivated by the fact this looks straight out of a David Lynch film:

So who cares about curtains right?


Here is the moral of this little rant.

Just before the Oscars were announced I figured I’d go see the few movies up for sound that I had any interest in, and I don’t want to cast specific aspersions – primarily because there is no point, but also because I don’t know the back story of how that soundtrack was put together, but anyway…. At what was in many ways the emotional climax of the film, a door is opened to reveal a profound moment. And guess what? I am pretty damn sure, the sound of that door open, THE door open of all door opens, was from Sound Ideas 60XX!?! Now I know, I know… Most of the audience don’t care… And by most I mean 99.99%…. but I was close to getting up & leaving at that point. To have done such great work all the way through this film, sculpting pure genius…. & then… totally ruin it by doing the sonic equivalent of cutting in an important cut away as a stock image?? Maybe I’m wrong, I’ll have to wait for the DVD release to actually verify it… but…

So anyway… please, have a weekend away, every so often. Do your psyche & your ears a favour & rent a characterful old house, that costs less than a single night in a crass hotel….
But take your record kit. Record the doors. Record the curtains. Record five or ten things that you didn’t expect to find there… And don’t be in a rush to use them… But when that magic moment arrives you will know you have the perfectly characterful sound for it… And it’s a sound no one else has, just you. And you know the back story to where you recorded it, and when… Sure 99.99% of the audience won’t care, but you will… because you have put a little bit more of you into your work….

Surround Ambience Recording Tests

If you have an interest in ambience recording then you should definitely check out this test session from July 2012: “At the occasion of the VDT seminar “Ambience recording” in Berlin, a collection of 5 simultaneous recordings with 6 different surround ambience microphone setups was produced. These test samples enable a direct comparison between the different setups (and recording principles) and therefore a very precise assessment of the properties of the recording techniques in different recording locations.”

The mic rigs tested include
– spaced omni with 5 omni mics
– spaced cardioid with 5 cardioid mics
– IRT-cross with 4 cardioid mics
– ORTF Surround with 4 supercardioid mics
– Double MS with 3 coincident capsules cardioid/fig8/cardioid
– CMIT Double MS, as per double MS except using a shotgun mic

There is a 700MB zip file of recordings from the different mic setups & locations, plus a PDF with detailed description of recording setups, venues & the listening test plus a theory paper & slides…

Have a read & listen HERE

thanks Emil for the tip & thanks to the organisers for making this available!

note: downloads seem to be very slow – 1hour35 to download a 2MB pdf!? help!

Detritus 245

The ISS Image Frontier – “Making the invisible visible” from Christoph Malin on Vimeo.

fantastic video, shame about some of the music choices…


> the Helsinki Bus Station Theory


> The 10 Best Sounds that my House Makes by Matthew Herbet (everyone should do this!)


> lovely minimalist bluetooth speaker by Muji


> right place, right time, right angle: some unique photos


Bologna Soundscape Project-Teaser from alessio ballerini on Vimeo.

More info here


> confused about aspect ratio?


> On keeping a notebook in the digital age


> The 360 Deal – a collection of genuinely helpful advice for people starting out in the music industry



> Composing with process podcasts



> great movie poster mashups


Sirens from RYOICHI KUROKAWA on Vimeo.


syn_ from RYOICHI KUROKAWA on Vimeo.

Ryoichi Kurokawa


Auckland Parks Artists Residency!

I am THRILLED to announce that I’ve been confirmed for the 2013 Auckland Parks Artists Residency! I applied back in January and have been trying not to think about it, as I know a lot of people apply and I am SO keen to pursue the project I have planned for it…. Anyway I got the call a few days ago and the news is now public: both myself and filmmaker & photographer Denise Batchelor are the Artists in Residence for 2013! Wahooooooooo!!!!

So what does it mean? Well, I’ll be spending 8 weeks living in a fairly remote part of the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland, working on a project. Where exactly? Well, as part of the residency I am allocated a house, Barr Cottage, in Little Huia – check this map to see the proximity to Auckland, its a rural location but is only a 40 minute drive to downtown Auckland, for when I get that craving for sushi!


The yellow line on the map is the direction of the sun rise, so basically out the front gate from the house is both the beach of Manukau Harbour and the sunrise!



When I lived in Auckland back in the 1990s I remember a number of times driving out to Little Huia, parking my car & riding my mountain bike up & over the hill to the West Coast beach of Whatipu. And I have a number of recordings in my library dating from back then too. This topo map shows a bit more detail of the area, it is basically the south end of the Waitakere Ranges.


The main project I will be working on while in residence combines my three primary skills (field recording, sound design and composition) and I will be expanding on the proof of concept I created for my Pecha Kucha talk, of recording and analysing native bird song, and using it as the DNA of music – see HERE from slide 13 onwards, with audio examples using a Bellbird recording…


Being based in the park 24/7 will provide a LOT of opportunities for recording native birds, and there are a number of initiatives underway in the park for reintroducing some of the rare and endangered native bird species which I hope to also observe, record and document.

My residency is from late October through to mid December, so I can also imagine being based in such a beautiful park at the start of summer will mean I shoot a lot of photos and timelapse too! Also maybe of interest to any local Auckland soundies I am considering the idea of organising a listening workshop and a field recording workshop while there too, but I will work that out closer to the time….

Huge thanks must go the Auckland City Council for organising such a fantastic creative opportunity! Applications open for the 2014 residency in Decemeber 2013, so save that link if you’re interested.


Relative to my project, I am especially fascinated by the idea that a significant part of some bird song is beyond the hearing range of us mere humans, so I intend to explore this with the help of my Telinga dish, Sennheiser MKH8020 and some fun with pitch shifting! For example have a listen to the amazing tonality of the Tui, first at real speed then played at quarter real speed. (Maybe this IS the droids we’re looking for! R2D2s long lost brother?) Note: it wasn’t recorded with the 80X0 mics

Scattered Light 77

14th March, 2013, Seatoun – Wellington Harbour Heads

Sound Design for EMPEROR

EMPEROR is released in the USA today – March 8th so I thought I’d collate some of my earlier photos and writing about working on the project.

“A story of love and understanding set amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. On the staff of General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones), the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) is charged with reaching a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal? Interwoven is the story of Fellers’ love affair with Aya, a Japanese exchange student he had met years previously in the U.S. Memories of Aya and his quest to find her in the ravaged post-war landscape help Fellers to discover both his wisdom and his humanity and enable him to come to the momentous decision that changed the course of history and the future of two nations.”

Directed by Peter Webber
Produced by Yôko Narahashi, Gary Foster, Eugene Nomura, Russ Krasnoff, Tim Coddington
Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh (this film was shot on film, not digital!)
Film Editing by Chris Plummer
Original Music by Alex Heffes

From my perspective as Sound Designer, Emperor was a truly fascinating project to work on from the very outset. Apart from reading the script I put a lot of thought and research into pitching to do the film – being aware of the previous great work by the director, Peter Webber, and the history of the producers and the subject matter, I knew it was going to be an amazing experience, and I was right!

Given the historical nature and multi cultural aspects, the film required a lot of careful research and respectful consideration for subtleties, before even the first actual sound work was started. I really felt that all of my time previously spent in Japan was a huge asset, not that in any shape or form I claim to be deeply knowledgable about the incredible complexity and subtle layers of Japanese culture, but without my previous experiences I am not sure I would even be aware of just how much I do not know. And as with many things, it is often awareness that creates opportunities – knowing the right questions to ask, and how to ask them.

Some of my research was deeply disturbing, such as reading personal accounts of the relentless fire bombing of Tokyo and the use of atomic bombs by the USA on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And while the film is focused on the aftermath of the war, having an understanding of the back story and events leading up to that point, from both sides of the conflict, was vital.

In a practical sense, we had a 16 week sound post production schedule which included a field trip to Japan for me to collect ambiences and FX and meet with local sound designers and recordists, and for Dialogue/ADR Supervisor Chris Todd for ADR & loop group recording. That 4 month period also included one full temp mix, and predubs and the final mix.

While I have worked with re-recording mixer Gilbert Lake at Park Road Post many times before, it was my first time working with re-recording mixer Lora Hirschberg, who did an excellent job and was a pleasure to work with. Interestingly due to her availability we predubbed in almost reverse order, in that all ambiences, FX and Foley predubs were completed by Gilbert prior to Lora starting the Dialogue/ADR/crowds predub. This meant she had a lot of context available to work with and I suspect contributed to the fact that our final mix went very smoothly! I wish I had taken a photo but on the last day of the final mix I brought in a selection of sake that I had collected up, and we had a drink with literally all of the sound team present. It is a good sign of a well scheduled and resourced project when you can reach the end without any stones being left unturned, but no one feeling exhausted or burnt out.

Lastly I am indebted to all of the sonic collaborators and new friends I have made in Japan. Their help was absolutely essential with respect to licensing sounds for the project, but also (& in many ways even more importantly) with their very generous support and advice. A simple but profound example of this was for an idea I had, originating from when in the film Fellers is searching for his lost love Aya, who was a teacher. We see in flashback him waiting outside a primary school for her class to finish, and later on in the film there is a transition to a similar flashback, so I started to research what was used in Japan for schools bells, back before WWII. While I did a lot of research online, and discovered that immediately after the war the school bells were changed to melodic electronic tones (due to the bells association with air raid warnings and the horrors of war) this still did not tell me exactly what bells they might have used. So after making careful enquiries, my good friend & senior sound designer KT-san took some options to his mother (who was a girl at the time of WII) and on my behalf asked her advice! Arigatou gozimasu KTsan!

Sound Department

Lora Hirschberg – sound re-recording mixer
Gilbert Lake – sound re-recording mixer

Tim Prebble – sound designer
Matthew Lambourn – sound effects editor
Simon Riley – foley editor
Tom Scott-Toft – assistant sound editor

Takuma Ito – additional sound recordist (Japan Ambiences and FX)
Someya Kazutaka – additional sound recordist (Japan Ambiences and FX)
Hide Aoki – additional sound recordist (Japan Ambiences and FX)
Eric Nagy – additional sound recordist (Japan Ambiences and FX)
Nature Sounds Society of Japan – additional sound recordist (Japan Ambiences and FX)
Jim Petrak – additional sound recordist (DC3 in Johannesburg)

John Simpson – foley artist
Pete Smith – foley mixer
James Carroll – foley assistant

Chris Todd – supervising dialogue editor
Emile de la Rey – adr editor
Chris Winter – assistant dialogue editor

Fred Enholmer – production sound mixer

Tim Chaproniere – mix assistant
Buster Flaws – adr mixer
Russ Gorsline – adr
Ryan Young – adr recordist
Toby Lloyd – sound recordist
Nicolas Williams – sound recordist

Mixed at Park Road Post
With special thanks to Tokai Sound

Some photos & links to earlier posts from our work on the film:

Vehicle recording during the shoot
EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: recording setup & gear
Record Kit 6 channel: 744 + 302 + 722 + MKH8040×2 + DPA4060x2 + MKH70x2 + tripod + 2 nano stands
EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Kansai

EMPEROR Sound Post

EMPEROR Sound Post

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: part 2

EMPEROR Sound Post

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Nikko

EMPEROR Sound Post

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Ryokan

EMPEROR Sound Post

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Ambience recording & the gentle art of perseverance

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Shishi odoshi

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Field trip to Japan: Okayama Haikyo

EMPEROR Sound Post

– Vehicle gravel tyre recording
EMPEROR Sound Post

– recording a DC4 – we also commissioned the recording of a DC4 in Johannesburg by Jim Petrak, one of the very few DC4s still flying!
EMPEROR Sound Post

– Ambience Predub session:

Detritus 243



Atoms For Peace – ‘Ingenue’ from Trim Editing on Vimeo.


> I bought & read the book Fans, Friends & Followers when it was released back in 2009, and found it to be very inspiring & motivating – it in many ways encouraged me to pursue this blog, HISSandaROAR and a number of other things still coming to fruition. Anyway the author has just made the book available for free/donation, get it here


> Databending photos in Audacity or try this online image glitcher – images below are via the latter (me as a 3 year old!)

Tim glitched


> This made me laugh for all the wrong reasons: wedding proposal shoot goes wrong (or right: “However, I was secretly hoping that the odds would be on my side and that they would get swallowed by a wave.”)



> Apparently the “great Tohoku earthquake in Japan two years ago was so big it…. sent a ripple of sound through the atmosphere that was picked up by the Goce satellite.”


> That Rhythm & Hues/VFX liquidation bizo just gets messier & messier


> I’m happy to leak that I am getting very near ready to launch a post-Kickstarter project! The first news/pitch will be via the HISSandaROAR mail list (post-Kickstarter because Kickstarter projects can only be created by US citizens, plus I am aspiring to evolve their model significantly!)


A Near Death Experience

Don’t worry its wasn’t my near death experience, but I was very, very close to losing one of my cameras! After I had walked miles down to the West end of the beach at Patea to take this photo


The tide was coming in, so I wandered back along the beach, not really thinking about anything until I nearly stood on a bumble bee. My first thought was, what the hell is a bumble bee doing at the beach? I took a closer look and realised it had come here to die. I felt a bit sad but thought it might make a melancholic photo, so I thought about getting my 7D and macro lens out but instead just took a few photos with my little Canon s100 point&shoot camera – in some ways I wish I had used my 7D as the plane of focus on macro with the s100 isn’t so controllable, but this was the photo I took:


I felt a bit sorry for the dieing bumble bee, its wings were occasionally flickering & it was obviously damaged & dehydrated.. I started to wonder if all bees travel to the ocean to skip off this mortal coil… Anyway I decided to shoot some video of this poor bee, so I set my s100 down on the sand & hit record… watch what happens:

This Mortal Coil from tim prebble on Vimeo.

At a guess I would say if I had been one second later it would have been all over!

Never turn your back to the ocean

Patea Long Exposure Photos

These photos are all shot with my Canon 7D, 10-22mm lens using B+W ND10 filter, iso 100 f/22 with 120 second exposure, converted to black & white using Nik Software SilverEFX Pro2



That shot of the old wharf was a little tricky to do as the tide was coming in & the waves were fair crashing around the old pillars… Doing long exposures requires a remote cable release and a very solid tripod, but to get close enough to those pillars I had to actually be in the water which isn’t such a good place for a tripod, so I set up on this rock & was ready to grab the camera if a big wave came…. Here’s the setup:


And here are a few long exposures in colour, some of the same old wharf at other times plus one of the breakwater at sunset




This next shot was taken up the coast a bit, at Waverly – the tide was right in & the waves were really seriously pounding those rock outcrops, which is why with a long exposure all that variation in white waves becomes this ghostly averaging of the constantly changing image, but fascinating to see the shadow also averaged on to that turbulent sea…


After I finished shooting here I went back to the car & got my mics & recorded 20 minutes of the most powerful surf I’ve ever recorded. I was in a safe position, high enough up that no waves could actually reach me, but being so close to something so powerful left me almost shaking!


Back at Patea I did some experiments shooting long exposure timelapse – I have’t assembled them into anything worth posting yet but the results are interesting & very dreamy. Timelapse takes a long time anyway but long exposure timelapse even mroe so; if each shot takes even say 30 seconds, that means you can only shoot 2 frame a minute, 120 frames an hour which at 24 fps playback equates to just 5 seconds of footage… So a 30 second timelapse shot would take 6 hours to shoot…. Better bring a chair next time!


Weekend in Patea

I spent last weekend in Patea, a small town in South Taranaki – it’s one of those places I had driven through any number of times but only ever stopped for an hour or two… Spending three days there gave me the chance to go exploring, shoot some photos and timelapse as well as do some recording. I’ll post some of the sounds I recorded in the next day or two, but for a start heres a little virtual visit to Patea…

In many ways Patea is most well known for the hit song from 1984 Poi-E by the Patea Maori Club, which Taika also re-enacted at the end of the film BOY

So it was kind of nice to find this building on the main street of Patea!





Back in the day Patea was a hugely prosperous town, with an economy largely fed by a large freezing works which was built on the banks of the river that runs through the town. But the freezing works closed down in 1982 and all that remains is this slightly surreal mini museum, and the ruins of the freezing works



I instantly recognised that large wheel, as on another trip I had stopped at the ruins of the old freezing works in Patea to shoot photos and do some recording…. time to revisit it!






Next I headed to the beach as I had read of the wreck of an old ship that has been slowly emerging from the sand over the last few years: “The Patea Co-operative Freezing Company’s steamer Waitangi, which was used to transport Taranaki meat, ran on to the rocks on the western side of Patea mole on May 5, 1923”



As dusk fell the beach became more & more beautiful – I set a timelapse going using the holy grail method & while it clicked away I started shooting with my little point & shoot camera




So these are the tourist shots, next I’ll post what I was really here for – to shoot long exposure photos and to experiment with long exposure timelapse…

Detritus 242

With only a day to go this Kickstarter project urgently needs your support!

IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE Teaser 02 – “Dancing Trees” from transcendental media on Vimeo.

“From the monastic traditions of the world’s religions to the universal “moment of silence” as an act of mourning, humanity has had a long fascination with silence. Today when one in three Americans suffers from some degree of hearing impairment, this relationship with silence, which once served as the key to our evolutionary sustainability, is challenged more than ever as the world continues to grow noisier. IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE is a feature documentary exploring the value of silence, our relationship with sound, and the implications of living in such a noisy world.”

QUICK! Go here! The director and producer have a proven track record and this film will be something special and very relevant to anyone reading this blog. Help make art happen!


> mmmm Turntable p0rn


> The Tim Seven??



> My god its full of stars!


> Monkeys, typewriters and dodgy T Shirt logos!?


I prefer watching this mute:


If you watch the first 60 seconds of a TED talk this week, make it this one:

The 4 Day Week

Post production is all based on schedules that are planned, evolved, budgeted and locked…..
Until they aren’t… Sometimes a sudden prolonged delay to start dates can be financially crippling for production crew – at least in post we usually get warning, and thankfully I haven’t suffered any of those although I know people who have waited six months for a big shoot to actually start… Imagine that: subsisting for six months, waiting for the call…. (And as a word of warning, in my experience it is a bit like an inverted bell curve: the larger (or smaller) the project the more likely they are to have large variations in schedule)

Anyway this particular film I was totally committed to and had turned down other work for, so when the post supervisor called to suggest a 2 week delay to our start date I was less than thrilled. Until… she suggested another solution to twiddling our thumbs for two weeks:
4 day weeks!

We were booked for a 4 month period so a two week delay equates to ten working days, so instead of being skint for 2 weeks (it was too short notice to drum up new work, with no notice) for the next ten weeks I did 4 day weeks. And guess what? It was fantastic!

Imagine that, you start a project you love and you get paid (proportionally less but still…) AND you get 3 day weekends for 10 weeks! So ever since I’ve kept in my VERY conscious mind that any suggested delays in future won’t mean an actual delay, they will just mean we adopt a schedule of 4 day weeks until the delay evens out. And those 4 day weeks are VERY welcome! Because a 4 day week = a 3 day weekend!

a photo from my 3 day weekend in Paekakariki

So much of what we do in the early weeks of a schedule are not affected by picture changes. Listing FX to be recorded, building the specific ambience library for the film and layering scenes/locations, recording vehicles and FX and ambiences. It isn’t like when they lock the cut suddenly all the locations are going to change. An awful lot of work can be done with a very unlocked picture, especially when you know it is unlocked. And it is also a chance to get temp FX to picture editorial and allow sound the opportunity to influence the cut…

So for my current project (a beautiful documentary shot in Antartica over literally the last decade) when it came to negotiating a mix schedule it soon became apparent that we would be wise to be flexible with the schedule, i.e. mix later than we planned. And what does that mean? You got it: 4 day weeks!

Antarctica: A Year on Ice trailer 2 from Anthony Powell on Vimeo.

And that is why ever other weekend I email photos to Facebook from some remote rural beach…. It is still summer in New Zealand, but its nearing the end of summer and accordingly it is time to savour the long days, warm temperatures & freedom that summer encourages.

So if you are currently locked into a demanding 5+ day schedule, for months on end, what would you do with a 3 day weekend? How about 10 of them in the a row? Bliss! (Another useful bit of sage advice: if your budget is tight then your schedule should not be. Its like the classic saying: fast, cheap, good – choose two.)

a photo from my 3 day weekend in Patea – shooting timelapse of the S.S. Waitangi

I’ve discovered a few other things 4 day weeks are very good for, especially to do with field recording – more soon! Viva le 4 day revolution!


ps here is another tip: if you alternate the schedule of two 4 day weeks ie MTWT followed by TWTF you get something even more magic than a 4 day week ie a 4 day weekend!

pss ever complain about the wind? It happens a bit in windy Wellington… but not on this scale:

Detritus 241

> Wow – I never knew Leon Theremin was into espionage! Along with the theremin he also developed a bugging device called The Thing – very clever for a sneaky device, it required no power supply & was activated by transmitting radio waves at it! Cue spooky theremin music:

“The device was embedded in a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States. On August 4, 1945, a delegation from the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union presented the bugged carving to U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman, as a “gesture of friendship” to the USSR’s World War II ally. It hung in the ambassador’s Moscow residential study until it was exposed in 1952 during the tenure of Ambassador George F. Kennan. The existence of the bug was accidentally discovered by a British radio operator who overheard American conversations on an open radio channel as the Russians were beaming radio waves at the ambassador’s office. The Department of State found the device in the Great Seal carving after an exhaustive search of the American Embassy, and Peter Wright, a British scientist and former MI5 counterintelligence officer, eventually discovered how it worked. Had the device never been discovered, it could easily have worked indefinitely.”


Gray Keys from Carlo Vega on Vimeo.


> Do nothing for two minutes


> the power of triggering a ritual


15,00 Volts from Melanie Hoff on Vimeo.


DocHouse Sound Design Masterclass with Peter Albrechtsen from DocHouse on Vimeo.


Mechanical Instrument from Wuxiaofei Dyson on Vimeo.


Detritus 239

This is how Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” would sound to aliens who live in a different timeframe/rate!


> suffering from excessive GAS? (Gear-Acquisition-Syndrome)


Câmara Neuronal – Guimarães CEC 2012 – Teaser2 from Joao Martinho Moura on Vimeo.

Câmara Neuronal is a neuro / audio / visual performance where the brain signals of the performer are translated, in realtime, into audio and visual compositions


> I always liked the quote attributed to Hemmingway: ‘write drunk, edit sober’ – not to be taken too literally of course, but these 7 tips by him on writing are also very good – especially #2; “Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next” which is maybe where Cory Doctorow got his ‘leave a rough edge’ from… That is such valuable advice, often I am tempted to keep working until I finish a scene or sequence, but I don’t anymore – I strive to knock off work when I have a specific task left to do, so that my waking brain tomorrow can kick straight into it without starting from scratch and without any friction….


> What a fantastic project this Lullaby Factory is! A network of listening pipes that remind me of Dr Seuss, and actually function to pipe lullabys to hopsital patients: “We have designed a fantasy landscape reaching 10 storeys in height and 32 metres in length, which can engage the imagination of everyone”


Lego Dance by Annette Jung from Talking Animals on Vimeo.

via Colossal


> The sound of one ant clapping walking


> “Sound Mixing: This is the one they usually give away with Sound Editing because nobody knows the difference, even after they explain it..”




Musical Kettle from Yuri Suzuki on Vimeo.


ALVA NOTO & RYUICHI SAKAMOTO ‘S’ Tour – interview at DANCITY FESTIVAL 2011 preview from dancity on Vimeo.

I hadn’t seen this interview, from 2011


Scattered Light 76

Shot 16th February, 2013, South Coast from Wainuiomata

Detritus 238


> the real meaning of that asteroid….


> interesting tech behind the Tate Kraftwerk shows


> “Build gaps in your life. Pauses. Proper pauses”


> Tarkovsky Films now online for free!


> I did some calculations on backing up my 5TB sound library to the cloud a while ago, but it wasn’t affordable. Seems now Amazon have the Glacier service it is – have a read here! Time to start the long slow upload of all of my personal archive…


Alberto Tadiello – High Gospel from ATPdiary on Vimeo.

Sonic sculptures by Alberto Tadiello



TOMTEN from graphset on Vimeo.




ProTools versus Photoshop

If you are a Photoshop user this article is a great read: Photoshop is a city for everyone

In 1991, the year after I finished Film School, I moved to Auckland to start work as a trainee sound editor and it coincided with the studio owner buying ProTools 1.0 – he’d been using SoundTools for a year or two, syncing & laying off to multitrack tape, in lock to a UMatic video deck. During that first year I’d read about Photoshop and saw an ad for evening classes at one of the local polytechs, so I went along & started to learn to use this incredible new program (hi Guy if you’re reading this!) At the time it was a revolution, unlike anything I’ve seen since – this was literally the dawn of being able to digitally manipulate media!

But the one thing that I do not take for granted is how I basically have learned to use both programs – Photoshop & ProTools, incrementally. I appreciate that most people learn by first working out what is the bare minimum required to achieve their immediate task. But for me it was more the learning that occurred when each new version of the application was released. While software releases now tend to be adding or refining non-essential features, back then the changes were huge in scope. Entire techniques that we take for granted now simply weren’t possible until version X.Y was released. Now these apps basically do everything you could want from them & to start learning them from scratch is a far more convoluted task…

But looking back its also fascinating to see how the user interface has evolved, for example compare the Photoshop toolbar:

If you weren’t around at the time watch this german demo video of ProTools 1.0, running in OS6 on a Mac IIfx with a total of 8MB of RAM…

So both Photoshop & ProTools are what you would call ‘mature’ apps – they have been around for over two decades and as they have maintained and evolved their functionality, a very large number of people have come to earn a living using specifically these apps as a crucial part of their business and their creative output. Which is why that article is so interesting, as it describes both the individual user perspective (“put all of the stuff I use right on top in the user interface”) and the developers (They have a rule in the hiring process: if someone claims to be a Photoshop “expert,” they terminate the interview. Photoshop is too big for experts.) < – I love that sentiment and would say the same of ProTools.

But I don’t intend this comparison of ProTools and Photoshop to be a metaphor, I’m interested in the views of anyone who is experienced with both apps. What features of Photoshop would be useful to you in ProTools?

For me there are two that immediately spring to mind: Actions and Layers

Actions is a great feature in Photoshop and allows automation/scripting of a series of actions, which can then be applied to any number of source files. So eg if I have 600 photos from a timelapse that I want to open, rotate, crop, apply a filter & then save as a new file, I do it once while Actions observes/records & then it makes it available as a repeatable action. This is basically leveraging the existing featureset of the app, and i would suspect requires a developmental discipline and overview that maybe be mroe difficult to achieve in ProTools,a s there are other simpler audio apps that are scriptable as batch processors…. With ProTools the only way I’ve found to do such things is via third party apps like Quickeys…

Once you get used to Photoshops Layers its a feature thats hard to do without, it rapidly becomes a fundamental part of so many techniques. While we already layer sounds in ProTools via tracks that isn’t how I see layers could/would work in ProTools – it would be on a clip basis. So eg I apply pitch shift or EQ or some other Audiosuite process to a region on a track. I’d like to be able to access the unprocessed clip from a stack of layers on the track in the same position… But also potentially combine layers in different ways – not just as ‘audio being mixed together’ but also in other ways….

Your ProTools feature request?
I would hope everyone who uses ProTools knows about IdeaScale which is a platform for both feature requests and bug reports. And while AVID tend to happily remind us on each new release, how many of IdeaScales most popular feature requests have been implemented, it can also be very frustrating waiting patiently literally for years for what would appear a basic feature development to be acted on…. My biggest feature lag nag is currently number six in the most popular feature request:

1. Freeze tracks
2. 64 bit app
3. Folders in Region List
4. Channel strip presets
5. Offline bounce to disk
6. Marker improvements
7. Bypass all plugins for a track
8. Phase switch on every tracks
9. Bounce to .wav and mp3 at same time
10. Include a “Bounces” folder when creating a new session

Its interesting that four of the top ten are all directly related to basic file output functions… My wish for Photoshop layers in ProTools is kind of related to #14: Clip Based Effects, but I also want the direct access & interaction between layers that Photoshop has…

Anyway, moral of the story: GO & VOTE!


Detritus 237


> If this then that


mmmmm the mythical red panel….

“I Dream of Wires: Hardcore Edition” 2013 official trailer from I Dream Of Wires on Vimeo.

“I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)”
Preceding IDOW’s official theatrical release, we will be releasing this special, extended cut: “I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)” (IDOW-HE) will be released independently on BluRay / 2xDVD, and shipped to all IndieGoGo and pre-order customers, June 2013. IDOW-HE is for the hardcore modular synthesizer and electronic music fanatics, and will run approximately 4 hours long (!).
IDOW-HE is a strictly limited-edition item, available to order exclusively through idreamofwires.org from 2/11 – 5/31, 2013. It’s bound to sell out in pre-orders, so don’t sleep…
IDOW-HE BluRay / 2xDVD is available to pre-order now: HERE


via spoon & tamago




a song for Valentines Day, from Alice Russells soon-to-be-released album: To Dust


> I’ve posted tunes by Laura Mvula before, but if you have the free time & inclination she has put stems of her song Green Garden up on soundcloud for anyone keen to remix….. Even better they are 96k stems, but mono it seems, just the .R side!?! Anyway, get the stems HERE
Here is the original mix:

And here’s what I did with the stems after spending a few hours last Sunday messing with it over breakfast….

Bear in mind its SONY, so you might want to read the terms & conditions before getting too excited about how they might exploit whatever you do…. I think the gist is “you get nothing, they get everything”

Junk Store Shopping

Last weekend Friday turned into Saturday, and the weather was just perfect – hot, but not too hot….. predictable but not too predictable…. So I started to scheme an excuse to hit the road & go find something, to record/shoot/find/experience/whatever…. I decided to go do something I have meant to for ages, and that is shoot sync video of recording with the Telinga parabolic dish. Sync, because I want to share how amazing it is to move that dish less than a few degrees and hear sounds come into focus & then go off mic/out of focus…. But also to experiment with other mic choices with the dish. So I headed over to the Wairarapa and as ideas of a quiet location came & went I realised I wasn’t too far from a town with a couple of really great secondhand stores… One of them I remember stopping at years ago & in conversation with the owner I suggested he should put some of his stuff for sale online. There followed a great rant by him, as to how the internet is killing the whole concept of his business – random people finding random things… ‘We don’t use the internet’ he muttered…. And god bless him – none of what I bought there would survive a few days online. It’d be snapped up & probably resold…. So what did I score? Two musical instruments, an LP, three books and two really great sound effects props for the next HISSandaROAR library, total cost nz$90!

I’ll do another shoot with the Telinga hopefully this weekend – I got some good material last weekend but haven’t had free time to either finish it or get it online as yet…. soon come! In the meantime here are my junk store bargains!


I found the above instrument first – hard to tell how old it is but it looks old, one string is missing but it sounds quite strange – thats a gourd with a skin over it acting as the resonator, and the neck appears to be an animal horn of some kind. Its exactly the kind of thing I’d try to bring back from an overseas trip, only to have it confiscated by biosecurity… or find online for a ridiculous price (it was $20!)
As I was paying for it I asked the guy if they had any other musical instruments – nothing was the reply, but then I noticed the piano on a dusty shelf above his head: ‘how much is that?’ $60 – sold!


Yes, the black notes are only painted on, but the tines inside it make the most melancholic sound!


I bought this LP more for the concept than the music: Classical Miniatures? nice one Franck! (and you can never have too many versions of Clair De Lune, Ave Maria etc….)


This book I got for $4 partly for the cover, but also the backstory. Its a sequel to an earlier book, Harmonic 33, about UFOs, ley lines, harmonics… (that book also inspired a compilation of NZ electronic music back in the 90s if my memory serves me correctly)


This book is co-written by an NZ pilot who had a close encounter…. and has since created all sorts of theories, many based in complex maths… The inside cover has a map of Auckland, with a sidebar identifying:



While this next book is a little gruesome & deadly serious it does make me wonder:
why does ‘evil’ have such great art department!?




Lastly, this is just plain silly, mixed with some absurdist nostalgia – THE GOODIES were on TV when I was a kid and in hindsight they are a bit like Monty Python for kids or something….. I’d suspect this book is valuable to collectors of such things, price NZ$3… And I really only bought it to balance out the evil book above!






The two sound effects props I’ll share soon!

Detritus 236

Alice Russell = great voice.. & its a great tune – hit play while you read the rest….


> I love finding collections like this: Beautiful ambiences from a rainforest in Peru (free download on soundcloud) recorded by Jeff Cremer, who is associated with Peru Nature Rainforest Expeditions – oh how I would love to do their 5 day photography trip (with a bag full of microphones of course) Relatedly I have a recording trip planned for mid year to a Pacific Island, and I had read good advice about filling any spare space in your bags with useful things for local kids etc, but this Pack for a Purpose site takes that idea a stage further, offering specific advice as to what to take eg for the Peru trip


> Don’t rely on your movie viewing experiences if you find yourself in a dangerous situation!


> Instrument highest/lowest notes vs frequency


(thanks Patricio!)




> Sonic data vizualisation – check #14


> ditto: the sound of eBay


> Vertigo sufferer? DO.NOT.LOOK!


> “I work whilst I’m walking”


> Two articles worth a read on different aspects of the same issue: access to data…. First by David Byrne: civil disobedience and secondly, specifically about the old & new-ish music industry: Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss?


> Einstein: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”


I should like this video but I don’t, it annoys me… I think its a combination of (imho) badly stylising something that doesn’t need stylising (the reality alone should/would have been fantastic, but its like one of those ads where a group of ‘creatives’ sat on the couch & slowly overworked the audio to death) combined with some rhythms that feel like phil collins programmed the beats or something!? sorry red bull, dont like your video & don’t like your drink either….


Local TV Spot for Born Banner from BornBanner on Vimeo.

similar starting point, but no overt hype… & no phil collins… SO.MUCH.BETTER!


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Scattered Light 75



Above shot 26th January in Akaora, below shot 27th January in Castle Hill


Scattered Light 75


Its such a similar feeling; shooting photos with a macro lens and recording sound with a contact mic – instantly lost exploring an intricate parallel universe….


Detritus 235

> Boot Beep – The story of the Mac’s boot chime, with source codevia (thanks Guy)


> new sound design blog to read/add to your rss reader: king soundworks


check out SonicCoutures newly released Konkrete 3


Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music For Airports (In 6 minutes)


> indiewire: 8 tips for great film sound: “the experts’ consensus is that what makes cinematic sound great is its support of the story. That, more than any particular technology, defines their favorites”


> OSX Mail App tweaks


> Incase you missed it, Vinyl Vault lights fuse on copyright time bomb—but is it armed?


some Python-esque moments…


10 000 photos
1 km of thread
350 reels of thread
73 000 embroidery stitches
6 kg of scraps of fabric
100 needles and sewing pins
Directed, filmed, and produced by Christophe Thockler

Black Books – Favorite Place from DaBrainkilla on Vimeo.


Detritus 234

Here’s a Piano I Prepared Earlier (3rd Dec 2005) TVRip XviD from phil scorzonera on Vimeo.


> The inspiration for the TR808 cymbals!?


> Remember dial up modems? I don’t miss the lack of speed, but the sound was always kind of nice… other than when it couldn’t connect, when that sound would become infuriating! But check out this article with spectral analysis & details as to whats happening at each point in the sound


> Want to hear something very weird & unexplainable? Go here & scroll to the bottom of the page and listen to the ‘Mysterious Sounds’ clip – recorded with a hydrophone under the ice in Antartica…. There is also a live stream from the hydrophone under the ice


> Designing sound objects


Love & Theft from Studio FILM BILDER on Vimeo.


BBC Why Birds Sing: Part 1 of 6 – the rest are here: part 2 and part 3 and part 4 and part 5 and part 6


Detritus 233


Ryoji Ikeda :: superposition, AUG 5, 2012 preview at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany from ryoji ikeda studio on Vimeo.

This video clip is a preview version before the world-premiere at Centre Pompidou Paris in NOV 2012. The work has been and will be constantly updating during tour. Tour dates: ryojiikeda.com
MAR 8-9, 2013 STRP Biennial, Eindhoven, NL
MAR 15, 2013 La Faïencerie, Creil (near Paris), FR
MAR 27-28, 2013 The Barbican, London, UK
APR 10, 2013 Concertgebouw Brugge, BE
JUN 22, 2013 Festival de Marseille, FR
superposition is a project about the way we understand the reality of nature on an atomic scale and is inspired by the mathematical notions of quantum mechanics. Performers will appear in his piece for the first time, performing as operator/conductor/observer/examiners. All the components on stage will be in a state of superposition; sound, visuals, physical phenomena, mathematical concepts, human behaviour and randomness – these will be constantly orchestrated and de-orchestrated simultaneously in a single performance piece.


> Fascinating interview with Soderburg


> When rss feeds from delicious used to actually work, one of the feed I always enjoyed was links tagged with #must_read – basically an endless stream of crowdsourced links of consequence. Not sure whats going on with delicious these days – Yahoo bought it and its been steadily going down hill since…. But this site: MustRead is a substitute for that particular feed, for now… Also related & a good source of intelligent writing: The Browser


> Stencilled tiny cities


The Ceiling Janus from Fruit Bonus on Vimeo.


> This is such a great idea: Amoeba record store in SF launch online music store for downloads of obscure vinyl rips


> Meanswear dog?


(thanks Jennifer!)



Scattered Light 73


Scattered Light 73


Rest in peace Mr Kudelski


Scattered Light 73


Late last year I finally got a Nagra 4.2 (the 4.2 was the favourite model of many people I spoke to, and the local tech who serviced it said it was the best spec’d machine – significantly more so than the IV-S) and I’ll be using it on one of the next HISSandaROAR libraries, but I also bought a manual for it off eBay, partly out of nostalgia as much as anything else…. Turns out that its not only a manual, its also both a practical and a philosophical guide to production sound recording! Highly reccomended reading for anyone interested in film sound: Guide to the Nagra 4.2 and Production Sound Recording by Fred Ginsburg Theres a couple of copies on eBay now for US$20 or so…


Scattered Light 73


Scattered Light 73


Name & Shame: Photos on Facebook

I’ll post an annoying crop that Facebook did to a photo that i didn’t take, but I was in awe of, enough to share it/repost it….. But what I loved about it was the beauty of the lower/original photo i.e. the juxtaposition of the beautiful old church that I have visited a few times, with the Milky Way so beautifully captured behind it…. A very clever technical feat, but also a lovely composition. And how did Facebook choose to display it? Look at the top photo – WTF?

Facebook photo crops SUCK!

But whats annoying me is not a fraction as bad as a comment a friend made, when he noticed over a few weeks that a couple of his friends had posted photos of their wives (they weren’t mormons afaik, the plural is actually singular) but… the same Facebook photo cropping algorithm meant their husbands loving message was accompanied by a cropped photo of their truncated wifes chest/cleavage & hips.. WTF??? How appalled would you be in the shift in context of such an algorithm?

I dont post photos of humans online ever for this very reason. Did they sign a release form? But even worse can you control the context that photo might end up in? Yeech, such creepy questions to even have to consider… Moral of the story: please, PLEASE share your family photos PRIVATELY!

But one has to wonder why photos are currently handled this way?
If when taking a photo I frame it vertically, or when editing it I choose a crop that is vertical, there is no reason to change it!

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Scattered Light 72


The high tide mark? Must have been some storm!

Shot at Birdlings Flat Jan 26th 2013


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There are some classic old baches on the beach, some derelict, some lived in…. and a few that are somewhere between those two states….

Love the old guy with his lunar patrol unit parked out front!

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Scattered Light 72


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I love the optimism in the bright blue of that wrecked interior… the northerly wind was making all the broken windows rattle & creak…. I was wishing i could rent one of the functioning baches for a few days & leave my mics recording in the derelict one overnight….
Last time I would have been to Birdlings Flat was as a kid with my grandfather (RIP) who used to collect gem stones from the beach and polish them… Such a magic place…


Scattered Light 72


Mr Stefan Kudelski has died, aged 84

From a press release from Cheseaux, 28th January, 2013:

The Kudelski Group is deeply saddened to announce that Mr. Stefan Kudelski, 84 years old, passed away on 26th January 2013. Founder of the Kudelski Group in 1951, Stefan Kudelski invented the first portable professional recorder, the renowned “Nagra”, which is still today one of the most recognized brands in the sound recording domain. Stefan Kudelski led the company since its foundation and until 1991, when his son André succeeded as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Stefan Kudelski was a member of the Board of Directors of Kudelski SA until 2006, and since then served as its Honorary Chairman.An exceptional inventor and a pioneer, Stefan Kudelski revolutionized the world of sound recording by developing a range of world-renowned recorders used in the radio, motion picture, television and security industries.In 1983, he entered the hall of fame of motion picture and television by receiving the John Grierson International Gold Medal, joining luminaries of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers that include Louis Lumière, Thomas Edison, Lee de Forest, George Eastman, Walt Disney, Samuel Warner, Léon Gaumont, Ray Dolby and Vladimir Zworkyin.In the course of his career, he was awarded numerous distinctions among which Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1965, 1977, 1978 and 1990, two Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1984 and 1986. He was also Doctor Honoris Causa from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) since 1986.« Stefan Kudelski was one of those personalities who contributed to the international reputation of Switzerland. Anyone who knew him could only be impressed by his sharpness, his incredible culture, his curiosity and his permanent sense of humor. Stefan Kudelski was more than a brilliant inventor; he was a man of values, a fine mind that will live on with us for a long time,” declared Claude Smadja, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kudelski SA.“With the loss of Stefan Kudelski, our Group will miss its founder and the inventor of the Nagra recorder. Stefan Kudelski defined our Group. The values he stood for form the foundation of our company and its reputation today across the five continents. Among those values, the determination to demonstrate that technological challenges described as impossible are always successfully achieved by teams that know no boundaries,” said André Kudelski.

Nagra SN from tim prebble on Vimeo.

Previous posts & links:
History of the Nagra
Chronological history of the Kudelski group
Beautiful Tech: Nagra SN
Nagras on Film
Nagra 4.2 reimagined as looper and tape delay/space echo
Wireframe/3d rendered Nagra
Nagra III and speaker
Nagra as iPod dock

In Search of a Concrete Music

Concrete Music

I mentioned this book when it was recently released in English for the first time, but now that I actually own a copy and have read the first few chapters I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying reading it and highly reccomend it. It is full of pearls of wisdom and insight, directly about its subject i.e. music/sound and the evolution of concrete music, but Schaeffers writing also reflects on perception, art, philosophy and the creative process… A few examples:

April 4. Sudden illumination. Add a component of sound to noise, that is, combine a melodic element with the eprcussive element. From this, the notion of wood cut into different lengths, of approximately tuned tubes. First attempts.

April 5. My bits of wood are pathetic. I need a workshop. It’s already bad enough trying to cut them to different lengths and from various materials. Afterward, they have to be arranged so that they can be played easily. I’m up against the problem of the piano again. By ‘noise piano’ I mean the pile of materials that are crammed into the studio. Regular visitors to the Studio d’Essai, who are no longer surprised by my eccentricities, now think I am a nuisance…

It is fascinating to read of his thought processes as he moves between physical workshop and electronic studio, where some of his experiments reveal attributes that many contemporary sound manipulators I am sure have also had similar revelations (in their own way & with their own material)

May 28 I have obtained some quite remarkable transformations by playing a fragment recorded at 78rpm at 33rpm. By playing the record rather less than half speed, everything goes down a bit more than an octave and the tempo slows at the same rate. With this apparently quantitative change there is also a qualitative phenomenon. The ‘railway’ element at half speed isn’t the slightest bit like a railway. It turns into a foundry and a blast furnace. I say foundry to make myself udnerstood and because a little bit of ‘meaning’ is still attached to the fragment. But very soon I perceive it as an original rhythmic group, and I am in constant admiration at its depth, its richness of detail, its somber color.

I also appreciate the honesty expressed in frustration at developing ideas into satisfying forms, an issue that is as contemporary now as it was then:

All around me lay piles of records bearing fragments of this raw material, decomposed, compressed, and stretched, de-ossified, inverted, shattered, pulverized. I was like a child who has taken the growl out of his teddy bear, pulled out his dolly’s eyes and smashed his clockwork train. I had to admit that I had invented amazing techniques for destruction but that every attempt at synthesis fell to bits in my hands. Furthermore, at every stage of my activities, pitiless contradictions arose. Sound objects multiplied, but their proliferation brought no enrichment, at least not in the way that musicians mean: the musical idea, or shadow of an idea! The variations themselves were contradictory , too musical and not musical enough – too musical because the banality of the original cmposition persisted, not musical enough ebcause most of these sound objecs were hardsh, offensive to the ear….

As I said, I have only read (& quoted) from the first two chapters… Hearing and seeing the score for this work intrigues me something wicked!

As a side note: such is life living in New Zealand I tried to order it from the US publisher who forwarded my order to the Australian distributor, who told me it was out of stock and 4-6 weeks away… Rather than be patient I asked Amazon.com to do what I originally asked & they got it here in 3 days. Annoyingly for me (& probably even mroe so for them) this is a fairly regular occurrence with local distributors where you can wait 4-6 weeks, or buy it direct/off eBay cheaper and have it sooner… I am happy to support service & support from local companies when they actually are capable of providing it (and the local pro audio distributors are very good, so don’t get me wrong) but another example would be that Vinyl record cleaner: contact the US manufacturer, get put on to NZ distributor who tells me to go to a local shop. They don’t have stock & were told by the distributor they would not have stock for 4-6 weeks!?! I note the price, say don’t bother, go to eBay, have it here in under a week, for cheaper than their local price.

Another side note: came across this great BBC documentary, The New Sound Of Music 1979, while rummaging around on youtube (the other parts are on there too)

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Scattered Light 71


Made a wish lately?

Shot 20th January with 60mm macro lens, Lyall Bay Wellington

Detritus 231


> Original Creators: Synthesizer Pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey


> Beatboxing secrets revealed by MRI scanners


> Mark Fell: “…despite the rhetoric of openendedness the first thing people do when they encounter these allegedly open environments is to develop variations on extremely limited systems”


> A great read of very wise words by David Foster Wallace


> Insightful techy interview with Michael Rapahel from REA at The Setup


> Nice article about Foley guru John Roesch(imdb)


> interesting mix by Thom Yorke


idrioema – syntaxea from idrioema on Vimeo.


The Newest Sound of Debussy circa ’81

Who is this?


I’ll let the record sleeve do the talking:



I went for a drive this afternoon, to pick up a birthday present for a friend, to a great record store on the very edge of the suburbs: Wonderland Records and having driven all that way I couldn’t not have a dig through some of the likely crates… and came across this LP:


Gotta love a record that versions Debussy AND lists the modules involved:


Debussy wrote some beautiful music, so whenever I see a piece that I know well, versioned I am always intrigued… and Tomita-san does not disappoint:

Debussy – The Engulfed Catheral, by Tomita:

Debussy – The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, by Tomita:


That piece, The Engulfed Catheral, published in 1920 has a beautifully evocative back story:

“The name of the music in English is The Sunken Cathedral; It is the tenth of twelve pieces from the first book (there was a second book 3 years later) of Preludes for Piano, written in 1910. Much of Debussy’s music tells a story. The story behind Sunken Cathedral: An ancient Breton legend records that the Cathedral of Ys was drowned by a giant wave because God was displeased with the town people’s impiety. Ever since that disaster which took the innocent along with the sinful, the sunken cathedral rises from the ocean floor on occasion and tolls its bells for the dead townsfolk before returning to its watery grave. Debussy adds narrative notes in the score to suggest where the ghostly Cathedral rises out the ocean fog and then slowly sinks back into its enchanted sleep at the bottom of the sea.

I hate guns

So the title of this rant is just a personal expression – that is why people have blogs, right? So before anyone tries to read too much into my three first words I suggest you wait, read all the words and then express yourself.

I grew up on a farm, my Dad had guns. Some of them we used rabbit shooting, because for farmers rabbits aren’t cute fuzzy things – they are a potential plague and the only good rabbit is a dead one. And in a way it was a rite of passage – you don’t give a 5 year old a gun. But at a certain age, and with due respect and training it becomes possible to use a gun. I remember messing around with an air rifle – fun and mostly harmless. Next I liked the 410 shotgun my Dad had – small bore, not much kick but more powerful. But beyond that I lost interest – it was the same for sports with me. I was big for my age & played the national obsession of rugby. But I remember the day the coach told my Dad: ‘Tims only any good if someone hits him & he gets angry’ – FCK THAT! I never played rugby again, ever. Game over. If a passtime involves aggression, violence & anger then there is something deeply wrong at its core. I have despised the game ever since.

But in my second or third year at secondary school one of the kids didn’t come back from summer holidays. Well he did eventually return, but his arms were all bandaged up. Seems he’d been rabbit shooting (or something similar) and a shot went off without properly firing (I am vague on the exact details because it was 30+ years ago) & he got damaged. Now any gun accident someone lives through is good. He was lucky, and probably so was the rabbit. But what isn’t so good is that really, when you get down to the core of it, we were being taught to kill. With guns. But why? Why the need to kill? To practice killing? Really, why? WTF?

Nothing is worse (other than larger scale weapons) than when guns are used as a weapon, against other humans. While war may historically be deemed a necessary evil, I firmly believe what Edwin Starr put so eloquently:

War is what happens when politics and diplomacy break down. It is the point of no return, and sadly when it happens the worst imaginable outcome occurs every day, every hour, every minute; a life is lost for the sake of politics. The human cost is abstracted for the patriotic good. Now I do not mean to denigrate the incredible, selfless sacrifices individual humans have made time and time again. One can only presume they were necessary for us all to be here, and to be free. So….

1. I hugely admire Charles Maynes gesture of releasing two gun sound libraries with the proviso that “100% of proceeds from the libraries will be perpetually donated to the following charities who respond to the consequences of war violence and social injustice” – it is a great gesture and maybe the NRA could do the same for all these military weapons they so love, for the benefit of the victims families of all of these school shootings? (And as a side note: I sincerely hope SoundDogs have registered this project as a charity, because if not the consequences can deeply effect their basis of ECommerce – this example is something to bear in mind when considering such altruistic gestures)

2. From the outside (and that is where I live i.e. outside America) the current U.S. debate on gun control seems quite simply RIDICULOUS. I cannot speak for anyone else but it seems like the start of a revolution that in hindsight no one will want to own, other than the preppies who will see it is a fait accompli. The external appearance is that: some people/the NRA want the right for everyone to bear arms capable of mass murder. These people are very vocal about why they need that right, but not about why it should also apply to people who are mentally unstable & dangerous to society. The hyperbole is nauseating, not for its own sake but for what it points to: the right to individually wage war in your own country. I can’t be bothered digging up the country-by-country gun/death stats but the evidence isn’t subtle.
FWIW my own country went through a fundamental shift many years ago, where every individual gun and every individual gun owner or user had to be registered. For many people at the time, it must have seemed like the state interferring with things that were none of their business. But it IS their business – these toys or sporting goods or whatever you want to call them, kill people! And they should not be legally available to anyone who cannot prove that they are mentally fit to use them, on a yearly basis. And they must be answerable as to exactly where their registered weapon/s are. You need a license to drive a car so I don’t need to hear any strawman arguments as to why that shouldn’t be the case, its simple: if you are a legit gun user, then front up and go on the record as such. Is it really that hard? What do you have to hide? As far as coverage of this issue, The Daily Show this year has started to resemble The Onion when they show some of the pro gun extremists point of view. I can only hope all of the people who are responsible recreational gun users in the USA make sure their voice is heard, and encourage strict and rigourous gun control. Because where does the other choice lead? No one was chanting ‘freedom’ when those poor cowering kids were being shot with military assault weapons.

3. I aspire to never record a single gunshot or release a gun library. Not because it wouldn’t sell – it would. But because I never want to hear a single gun shot with my own ears ever again, in my lifetime. If I can achieve that goal I will be happy. Many of our ancestors died in wars, and the last sound they heard were gunshots. But even worse, the same applies to many innocent people – god/jah/buddha forbid: kids in schools! What the world needs now is not more guns, that was never the answer! What it need it needs is strict gun control.

4. I hate guns and I hate those video games where people spend all day killing other people. And I hate movies where human life isn’t treated as it is in real life. We suspend our disbelief when participating in these forms of art and entertainment. Do not abuse that disbelief by denigrating the value of human life, without very good reason.

UDPATE: a good read: the riddle of the gun

Detritus 230

> Seven lectures given by Stockhausen in England in 1972 and 1973


Love the bit @17.55 – that gleeful laugh! (thanks Anthony)


> The world’s largest natural sound archive now fully digital and fully online – check some of the example recordings at the end of this post


> Music from bird pooh?


SPINE from Kollision on Vimeo.

More info here (thanks Richard)


> Vonneguts The Shape of Stories


> wow beautiful installation work using UV thread


Major Scaled #3 : The Doors – ” Riders On The Rainbow” from major scaled on Vimeo.

I can’t listen to this – amazing what a difference a key change makes to something so familiar, but what if you’d never heard the original song before?!


Berghain: Vibrations & Resonances is a sound project by the Soundwalk Collective that resonates the architecture of the legendary Berlin club Berghain, playing the material structure of the building as a musical instrument. Tuning resonant frequencies to excite the architectural surfaces of the club, the Soundwalk Collective arranges and processes a live feedback loop produced by pulses and tones played through the sound system and into the walls of the building. Captured with contact microphones in real-time, the rhythmic and resonant properties of metal and glass create a call-and-response with the building.



Wahooo! First release for the New Year: ENTROPY sound library is now available and if you’ve got a fast trigger finger you can get it for a third off for the next 24 hours! If you haven’t seen it, check out the making of video below – it is the reason my studio smells a bit funky!

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Scattered Light 69


Photo of OysterCatchers shot 29th March 2012 at Oakura Bay, sound is from Kaikoura 21st August 2008 recorded with a pair of 416s and my good old DAP1 Dat Machine!


Detritus 229

> I remember reading somewhere that Debussy considered the use of the pedals on the piano an artform unto itself, which makes this fascinating: the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano…. recorded a series of performances for posterity. The machine was designed to encode the nuances of a pianist’s playing, including pedaling and dynamics, onto piano rolls for later reproduction. Debussy plays La soirée dan Grenade, a 1913 Welte Mignon recording:


> Classic minimalism x100


Too funny, but some genuinely beautiful moments….



> Love this interactive script for Moonrise Kingdom (you can also download a PDF version)


> Just ordered another pair of contact mics to try out… – will do a side by side comparison one of these days!


Works For Turntable from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo.


> Great news for any non-ProTools users – Massey plugs are porting to VST!


> Interesting book for DIY analog synth


A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time (by Max Hattler) from Max Hattler on Vimeo.


Field recording on Shodoshima

That last Scattered Light photo reminded me of a sound I recorded on Shodoshima & never got around to posting, maybe because it was one of those sounds I found – I never specifically intended to record it, but I took my 744 and 8040s along with me on our trip to Shodoshima, just incase…

While there is a great pleasure in meticulously researching and planning a recording trip, there is a different pleasure again in packing your recorder & mics but not making any plans to record… If anything, on this trip to Shodoshima I was more thinking visually… We booked to stay the first night at a fairly remote resort, and you might wonder what my microphones are pointed at:


If it looks high up it’s because it was – we were on the second to top floor, on the righthand side of a hotel that looked like it was straight out of an episode of Thunderbirds


We’d chosen the hotel and the room based on the sunrise – I messed around heaps in the evening to get my camera set up to shoot a dawn timelapse, including moving a spare bed from a hidden cupboard out on to the balconey, to get the right height…


But I almost needn’t have bothered, because the sun didn’t bother turning up for dawn… We’d seen on the news that a Super Typhoon was on its way in our direction – turning on the news it looked like the apocalypse…



All I could think was how the cloud patterns reminded me of sushi plates we’d seen in Nara




So this was what greeted me at 5am for my dawn timelapse:


And after I shot a few hundred frames and the grey remained grey, I switched senses & suddenly realised that I was hearing quite a strange sound amongst the ambience…. So I quickly set up the mics, listened for a while and then went back to bed, to wait for the Typhoon to arrive… Have a listen:

SHODOSHIMA from tim prebble on Vimeo.

Turned out the Super Typhoon was tired out by the time it actually arrived to Shodoshima, and we took the fact that this guy was happy to stand out in the middle of the harbour fishing, that nothing too bad was coming….


We drove back around to the other side of Shodoshima, noticing how a lot of ships were parked up in the inlets, sheltering from the Typhoon…


And what exactly this is I don’t know, but I made a mark on Google maps on my iPad to revisit it next time and find out!


Some good travel info about Shodoshima is available here

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Scattered Light 67


Shot October 1st 2012 on a back street on Shodoshima, Japan – the air was rich with the aroma of the nearby Soy Factory – there’s a bottle of their Soy Sauce in my fridge….
I take the lid off, inhale and am instantly back on that rainy street…


Detritus 228

Details on the adaptation here – thanks John!


> Sounds from the ISS Space Station


Thanks Grant!


This makes as much sense to me as whens its ‘normal’


A pop song/earworm for today…


thanks Anton!

Detritus 227

Binatone Galaxy from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo.

Binatone Galaxy by Stephen Cornford is an installation “replacing the prerecorded content of each tape with a microphone…. Binatone Galaxy brings the framework within which a generation purchased their favourite records to the centre of attention, revealing the acoustics of the cassette and the voices of the machines themselves.”


> A single footstep


> In Search of a Concrete Music by Pierre Schaeffer, available in english for the first time



> I’ve been enjoying listening to Stephen P. McGreevy’s ground-based ELF-VLF recordings – mmmmm Aurora!


Wheelharp!? by AntiquityMusicLLC


> Great mini documentary about Australian foley artist John Simpson



Detritus 226

TNIW [That Night In Williamsburg] from Supralude on Vimeo.


> Cooking with a beat oven?

beatoven Lite from Viktor Jan on Vimeo.


> Love the look of these transparent speakers



> Every image has a sound


> Painting with light old school


> “…pick up a marbled 12-inch bearing the name of one physics concept or another, and you more or less know what you’re in for…..”


“for the past 3 years I (Phillippe Petit) have been collaborating with Murcof, working on an album and playing live quite a few times. “The Call of Circé” is the opener of our forthcoming album…”


Detritus 225

> These first few have been posted everywhere already so you’ve probably seen them, but incase not…


Ring modulated mixing bowl from Peter Speer on Vimeo.



> cats <> pinup girls


> nice feature & interview with Laura Mvula


> Brainpickings Best Music Books of 2012


The noise from woon jin Kang on Vimeo.


> See Can’s ‘SOUNDTRACKS’ as it was attended


> mmmm new Apparat release on the horizon


> just started reading The Universal Sense – How Hearing Shapes the Mind



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Scattered Light 65


Shot Jan 3rd 2013 at White Rock – 48 second exposure


Unobtanium – Vintage Outboard you cannot afford!

What is it that makes certain vintage gear so valuable? Obviously the sound is key, but ‘sound’ is a broad description when it is really the character and range of sounds produced with it that makes some gear so sought after, combined with a uniquely functional and highly evolved user interface that is made to be played or performed with.
There are plenty of contenders for synths in this category – the EMS Synthi would be one near the top of my most wanted list, for form & function… But scarcity is also an important factor – would these devices be as sought after if they were readily available? I guess the fact the Synthi is back in production would indicate not, although the cost of US$2,500 is a definite factor, but what if the cost comparison was more akin to the original TB303 versus the TT303?

What got me thinking about unaffordable outboard was an EBay auction I bid on late last year, for a Musitronics MuTron BiPhase phaser. I’ve been interested in these ever since reading that it was one of Lee Scratch Perrys not-so-secret weapons. I adore the tonality of a lot of the sounds from dub reggae from the 70s (Perry, Scientist etc.) which is exactly why I love and own a few Space Echo devices…


Apparently the MuTron phaser was designed by Mike Beigel along with Aaron Newman at Musitronics USA in about 1973-4 And so a mint condition MuTron BiPhase Pedal came up for sale on eBay, the starting bid was low & while I thought I was being pretty indulgent placing a max bid of US$750 I needn’t have worried… it ended up selling for over US$3,000! Holy sh+t! Similarly there is one for sale on eBay now, with a BUY NOW price of US$3,499!


“For your consideration is this vintage 1976 Musitronics Mu-Tron Bi-Phase electric guitar phaser effects pedal. This particular example, (serial number 04674), is in excellent all original condition and includes the original C-100 Opti-Pot control pedal (serial number 1428). With significant provenance, this unit belonged to Elektra Records (with Elektra labeled inventory numbers 1190 and 1193) and was used by numerous artists on dozens of classic records. While no exact list was documented nor compiled by studio engineers, the potential list of artists who had access to this unit reads like who’s who of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, including; Bob Dylan, Queen, The Stooges, Television, The Cars, Tom Waits, X, Metallica, Jackson Browne, and The Eagles. This 100% all original example works perfectly and sounds great. It includes reproduction overlays.”

So other than finding one in a junk store, the likelihood of me ever owning a real MuTron Phaser is pretty much zero, which leaves only a few options. If you’re happy to work ITB then there are plugin replicas available eg the AudioDamage Phase Two for US$39 attempts to be an exact replica, and when you consider there is US$3,460 difference between real and digital, it means it is not an either/or consideration… Other options? In the analogue world I picked up a MAM Phaze 2 stereo phaser rack unit for not very much, and while it doesn’t pretend to be a MuTron it does have CV input… But where the MuTron does still serve a purpose, as it did for that plugin, is as a potential model or topology for creating similar processing using analogue synth modules, patching audio and control voltage to recreate it, whether its in the real world via eurorack modules (or other formats of course) or via software eg the Moog Modular Synth plugin
The front panel could be considered a statement of intent, but it is important to remember just how much individual components contribute to the character of its sound, there is a link to the schematics here & on the same site some comments after making a clone of it: “to build a complete version it you need (and if my computations are exacts ) to solder 122 resistors, 17 OPAs, 22 semiconductors, 31 caps, 8 LDR cells, a handfull of pots, switches ,jacks and many other little things…. Density is rather high on the Phasor pcb!” But he is kind enough to sell PCBs for a DIY clone foe EU$45…. Hmmmmmm…


The idea of patching together and experimenting with custom processing is what got me started down the endless road of eurorack modular synths, and while some euro modules have been specifically created to allow CV control of classic analogue outboard such as BBD Delays etc, it is in the consideration of larger effects processing patches that these classic and highly evolved outboard effects are a very interesting source of inspiration. So it got me to researching other obscure but sought after outboard effects. Next on the list:


Meet the EMS Synthi Hi Fli – a full feature list is available here along with many audio examples…. And as with the EMS Synthi they are being made available again new: “I am pleased to say I have negotiated with Robin Wood at E.M.S. to re-release the HiFLi under License. The price for each HiFLi unit (including pedals) will be £2000 + shipping. This price is a reflection of the many hours of build time each unit takes (this is not a glorified ‘stomp box’ and is closer in complexity to a Synthi A or a VCS3 than it is to any stompbox. Dont forget the original HiFLi sold for £350 in the early 1970’s which conservatively translates to about £3500 today!)
But, you will have to be VERY patient… a more recent update: “I have now stopped taking orders for Hi-FLi units having almost 50 people on the build list (15 on the official list and 35 on the supplementary list for units which will be built subject to agreement by E.M.S.) At current production levels it will take at least 4-5 years to get through these orders! I may at some future time open up the list again”

The original:

The re-release:

Third in a list of drool worthy outboard unobtanium is a processor I wasn’t even aware existed. I have owned two different Sequential Circuits Pro One synths over the years, and still have a SC SixTrak synth but the Sequential Circuits ProFX was news to me! Turns out it is/was a modular effects unit, according to this site: “From what I know, there were only 200-300 systems of various configurations produced by Sequential Circuits from summer 1982 to 1983. Eight modules were produced in the systems two year life span including 510 Distortion, 512 Phaser, 514 4 x 2 Mixer, 516 Parametric EQ,518 Reverb, 520 Transpose / Sync, 522 Flanger / Chorus and 524 Digital Delay Line. Sometime in 1983 the Pro-FX was re-marketed as the “Pro-FX Ambient Package” which consisted of the 500 System Controller as well as the 518 Reverb, 522 Flanger / Chorus and 524 Digital Delay Line.” Read here for more info on the functionality of each available module… According to the Synth Museum: “The Pro-FX was completely digitally programmable with a “glide” function that allowed you to move smoothly between patches” which is fascinating, in that despite all of the advancement in technology -analog and digital, there are not many/if any audio devices that have this feature even now!

One configuration sold on eBay not so long ago for US$1,650


So what other outboard devices would you consider unobtanium? Many years ago there was a studio in Auckland that used to have an EMT 250 Reverb, which was a very early digital reverb…. I don’t remember how it sounded but I well remember it looked like something from the future! Coincidentally there is a refurbished unit for sale on eBay at the moment, with a buy now US$7,500!


photo credit

I also hate to think how many beautiful and truly amazing sounding plate reverbs were lost along the way…. I fully appreciate how difficult they would be to physically relocate (some advice is given here) and some history about the EMT-140 plate reverb PDF here as well as instructions to DIY build one PDF here Someone also made a wooden plate reverb and there is also an intriguing minimalist site for JCC & Associates who “manufactures and sells upgrades for your aging or home-built plate reverb unit.” Hmmmmmmm……

So what outboard would you love to own, if cost wasn’t an issue? I haven’t included any EQ, filters or dynamics processors of which there are many, many highly sought after classics…

Scattered Light 64

Scattered Light 64


Scattered Light 64


Shot in Tora (on the east Coast of the Wairarapa) today; 6 January 2013

After recording the Seal Vocals Library I know it is very likely that you smell the presence of a seal before you see them… that second photo I stood there looking at that weird rock outcrop, sniffing for about ten minutes, until I finally noticed him on the left of the photo – blends so well with the environment…. but not someone you would want to step on by accident!


Scattered Light 62

Scattered Light 62


Shot January 3rd 2012 – love that colour pallet!

Scattered Light 62


Detritus 223

> wow – great Kickstarter project: build your own MIDI controlled singing Tesla coil


Olafur Eliasson from charles roderick on Vimeo.


What a beautiful way to spend an hour!


> A fascinating interview with Jaron Lanier especially towards the end, with regards to being anonymous online… which provides a different context for whats happening in China i.e. eliminating anonymous online commenters – their motives may be different but how many trolls would disappear if they actually had to post with their real name?


Oskar Fischinger – Optical Poem (1938) from Avant-Garde Cinema on Vimeo.


Kontakt from Florent Tarrieux on Vimeo.


Scattered Light 61bw

Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Shot today, January 3rd 2013, the day we said goodbye to Hoppy…


Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61

Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Scattered Light 61


Shot today, January 3rd 2013, the day we said goodbye to Hoppy…


Scattered Light 61


Happy New Yeah?

I’ve always believed that what you choose not to do is as important as what you do….
Along those lines this article is well worth a read.


Someone Great

Hit play before you read any more…

It should have been a cruisy day – the last day of the year, nothing left to do, nothing left to worry about…. Excited for what 2013 will hold…. but happy to wait for it to arrive….. And then the phone call…. just like the song, early in the morning…. news that a dear friend is no longer with us… Such a sad end to the year… Rest easy Hoppy

Detritus 222

I can’t watch this with the sound on because I really, really want to hear it with an abstract but tightly synced granular soundtrack… so beautiful!

MACROS/ INK world _v01 from Antoine Delach. on Vimeo.


> Long exposure astral photos are so great but these? wow!!


> I plan to own an Eames chair one day, but maybe not this one – good for the garden though…


> whats your favourite reverb plugin?


> the past meets the future in this 3d printed vinyl – check the electron microscope photos, they’ve attained close to the quality of Edisons first test records… roll on evolution!


> Not so long ago I got a fascinating book out of the library on Saul Bass, this one But failing reading the book this is a great article on his creative work with Alfred Hitchock


> This is a lovely metaphor for what many of us spend a lot of time doing – capturing sounds in a bottle (thanks Michael!)


> I wouldn’t call these the five weirdest sounds – more like beautiful, fascinating etc…


love this – especially the distortion! Imagine the whole film scored this way – it would be a comedy!


Detritus 221

> I remember back in the day, renting a PA for the first time and when we returned it the next day the rental guy opened the roadcase with all the mic cables in it, took one look and tipped them all out & set about giving us a lesson on how to roll cables… Then he made us re-roll every cable! Thanks pony-tailed roadie dude! Taught once, never forgotten – read this if you do not know how to wind up cables the correct way




vco fan – alos check out gieskes voice rec module


Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas from 99U on Vimeo.


something unexpected & magic happens about @2.00


Happy Holidaze

Have a safe holiday and more than anything savour the last days of the year… a great time to reflect on what was, what is & what may be…

2012 Best MUSIC

new music, this year

DeepChord/Echospace – Silent World
Kolortown – Sound Is Coming
Andy Stott – Luxury Problems
DeepChord – Sommer
Deadbeat – Eight
The Butch Cassidy Sound System – Echo Tone Defeat
Monolake – Unstable Matter
Fingers In The Noise – Sounds From The Moon
The Nautilus Project – Natural Selections
Grit – As I Look To The Sky From The Surface Of The Water
Rhauder feat. Paul St. Hillaire – Sidechain
The Analog Roland Orchestra – Home
Hatti Vatti feat. Echo Ranks – Great
Xoki & Hieronymus – Technicolor
Mr. Cloudy – Different Lives
John Tejada – The Predicting Machine
Ametsub – All Is Silence
How To Dress Well – Total Loss
Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Stare
Alice Russell – Heartbreaker

not new music, i re/discovered
Shinichi Atobe – Ship-Scope
Pauline Oliveros – Deep Listening
Arvo Part – Spiegel im Spiegel, performed by Benjamin Hudson, Sebastien Klinger & Jurgen Kruse
Pharoah Sanders – Karma
Portico Quartet Folder – Knee-Deep In The North Sea
Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk
Toshio Hosokawa – New Seeds of Contemplation
Ethan Rose – Ceiling Songs
Murcof – Martes

Detritus 220

> Shame about all the religious dogma but a silent retreat is a lovely idea…


> WoW – Groundbreaking new wireless headphones!! – S/N ratio? debateable..


The Mixtape from Ithaca Audio on Vimeo.


> basic sounds best of 2012


> if I win the lottery my first present will be this (doh! its already sold!) and the second this (thanks Rene)

Mixtape from Jeff Skierka on Vimeo.


> For iPad Turnplay is quite a beautiful turntable app, but as we all know, two turntables are better than one!



GALE FORCE WIND Library Released!

OK my last library for the year is finished, released & available here & it is discounted until December 22nd! It is so difficult getting the size of these ambience libraries down, especially at 24bit 96kHz and recording with multiple mics/perspectives… GALE FORCE WIND is 7GB as 92 audio files, varying in length from 1 minute up to about 4 minutes…. While the big loud exterior winds are very useful, I am so glad to have lots of alternatives to the spooky wind drafts I’ve been relying on for quite a while/far too long! They really respond well to doppler processing for movement effects, and played subtlely via convolution verbs are very evocative for creepy interior ambiences….

The first two libraries of 2013 are going to be classic HISSandaROAR sound design libraries of epic proportions, but first, its time for a break! Thanks to everyone who has supported HISSandaROAR this year – I am working on a little Christmas present which will likely turn up in your inbox sooner or later – Happy Holidaze!

GALE FORCE WIND from tim prebble on Vimeo.

2012 Best of FILM

Such is my commitment, I paged through the “top” 500 films of 2012 on IMDB and only noted 2 that I really rated… such is life! So for what its worth here are some films I think you should go out of your way to see, if you haven’t already…. At 24fps each of them has an emotional depth that transcends technology…. which is the point, right?

Chasing Ice


Moonrise Kingdom

Stori Tumbuna: Ancestors’ Tales

Looking forward to seeing Cloud Atlas, Django Unchained & The Master….

Detritus 218

The Constant and The Flux (excerpt) from Callum Cooper on Vimeo.

lovely work Sandy


thanks Steve!


> got a spare $2,700? Check this cymatic speaker


> How to sing, like its 1902


> wow! that is all


> Google has a heart – who knew?


Evan Caminiti – Absteigend from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.


> this might well be a link to save for the holidays, I’ve already spent a few hours there: Smashing Magazines compilation of useful talks & videos from design conferences – of the few I’ve watched so far, this would be my pick… hang in there until the bit about Beethoven!


> life in the woods


> wearing sounds?


Landfill Harmonic film teaser from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.


Field Recording: Industrial Ambiences in Osaka

I decided to devote some of my last week in Japan to doing some field recording, and I ended up spending a whole day recording trains but first I decided to go exploring in one of the industrial areas of Osaka. I did a bit of research online and narrowed down a location by a combination of checking out photos people had taken and then using Google Maps…
So the morning of October 24th 2012 I set off and caught a train from Namba, heading about an hour out on the Nankin line and getting off at Suwanomori Station, cross the tracks and then started walking…..

Osaka Industrial

Eventually I arrived at the front entrance of a huge chemical factory, but there was no way to get close to anything without going through the security gate.. As I was wandering around aimlessly, a woman came over from the security office and asked if she could help me. I explained what I was up to, she went away and came back with a guy with a big map of the area and between it and the map on my iPad we worked out where I should go – so helpful! Turned out the woman had been to NZ a few years earlier, but more than anything I appreciated their help and the fact they didn’t question what I was doing as all day I felt a bit like an industrial spy, sneaking around trying to find good vantage points…

Osaka Industrial

Anyway to get better access involved walking another three or four kilometres around the factory, into the actual port area…. And walking past this massive LPG storage facility along the way….

Osaka Industrial

While it was visually interesting the first audible factory drone was coming from across the road, from this labyrinth of pipes which seemed like they had been formed into some kind of drive-in industrial nightmare…..

Osaka Industrial


Next along the road was some kind of gas factory, the trucks in the photo below were getting filled up with a lovely hissing sound…

Osaka Industrial


Next was this yellow building…. Yellow? Why yellow? Who knows but it could almost have been an incredibly large scale industrial artwork, with its gleaming skeletal frame & completely perplexing function….

Osaka Industrial

By this point it was 4pm and as it gets dark in Osaka by 6pm at this time of year I was starting to think about how much other ground I could realistically cover…. I’d walked around the dock area and taken a lot of photos but sonically there was not a whole lot going on – a wide shot like this looks great but was sonically diffuse to the point of being less than inspiring….

Osaka Industrial


So far all I had managed to really record were diffuse factory drones – I had imagined there would be more interesting sounds to be heard, but without getting access to the interior of these factories it seemed drones was all I was going to get… So I started heading back towards the train station, failing all else wondering if I could find somewhere to shoot an industrial sunset from…. when I started to hear these weird complex rhythmic metal sounds – ahar! This is more like it!
I ended up having to fight my way through bushes & trees to get closer to the source, and as fast as possible got my mics set up & hit record – I was still on public property but I wasn’t sure how my presence in the bushes (!?) would be interpreted, so I at least wanted to record some sounds before anyone found me… Thankfully no one did and I recorded until it seemed like the sounds weren’t changing much any more….. My DPA mics look quite at home amongst the vines twisted through the fence!

Osaka Industrial


But the best was yet to come! I walked around the corner from this factory to discover it continued for about another three blocks and within a few hundred metres could hear this big subby rhythm eminating from the factory… I kept walking as it got louder to discover the source of the sound was only through one pane of glass from where I was standing, and unlike the previous ambience where the rhythm was fairly randomised, this had a big steady rock solid beat that felt like some kind of grungey slowed down hip hop or something…. The only problem at this location was traffic – it seemed a car came past every three of four bars of the beat, so I set up my mics and let it roll for about 30 minutes, to make sure I had a lot of clean material that I could cut together into a rhythmic ambience unpolluted by car passes….

Osaka Industrial


I still have no idea what it was that was generating the sound, despite peering in through the window and actually being able to see some glowing object going up & down in sync with the beat…. But I did shoot a bunch of video of it & I have synced my recordings with the camera guidetrack so the sequence in the following video is sync, as per reality, for what thats worth…. But your guess is as good as mine as to what this pounding rhythm was actually pounding…. tempting to play rhodes on it though!


Field recording industrial ambiences in Osaka from tim prebble on Vimeo.


By now the light was fading, I was exhausted and still had a long walk to the train station…. But I was buzzing from knowing I had captured some great sounds… Here’s a few photos I shot on the walk home….


Osaka Industrial


Osaka Industrial


Osaka Industrial


Osaka Industrial


Osaka Industrial


Osaka Industrial



A Quiet Sunday in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Like many visitors to Tokyo I had heard/read that Yoyogi Park is a nice, relaxing place to visit – literally a walk in the park, but that was only part of the attraction as this park by Harajuku is also well known as a gathering place for many rather quirky individuals, especially on a Sunday…

Yoyogi Park

A woodwind quartet rehearsing in the park? Great idea! No neighbours to annoy here, and such intriguing sounds to hear from the distance, drifting through the trees…

Yoyogi Park

Same for this harp player, although there was a drummer a bit too close for her liking and she had to keep relocating to be heard/hear herself…

Yoyogi Park

Further through the park we could see some frenzied activity so we went to investigate and found this guy, who had a small crowd of kids and adults totally entranced!

Yoyogi Park

Every five minutes an adult would come over to him & request a business card

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park

The two guys above were playing drums, kind of in time with the larger group in the photo below who were further into the forest, or maybe they were just listening to the beautifully complex delays bouncing off the trees…

Yoyogi Park

Where else would you practice tightrope walking? In your apartment?

Yoyogi Park

A bunny party?

Yoyogi Park

Ok a dress up bunny party??? And is that orange plastic thing some kind of bunny cam?

Yoyogi Park

As we headed back towards Harajuku station we could see a fairly animated crowd & could hear some weird distorted music….

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park

Rockabilliy dancing? in the park? Sure, whatever bakes your cake…

Yoyogi Park

There were two groups of these guys, and they seemed to alternate songs, striking weird poses as much as dancing…

Yoyogi Park

More info on the history of these guys here

Yoyogi Park

To get to Yoyogi Park just catch the Yamanote Line to Harajuku and it’s a short walk and you are at the entrance – map and more info here

Whats the strangest thing you’ve seen in a city park?

Scattered Light 56

Scattered Light 56A

Scattered Light 56

Scattered Light 56C

shooting long exposures at Buckleton Beach, Matakana – December 2nd 2012

HISSandaROAR White Water Released

Ambience Library number 3 if finished & released now – check it out over there! There is a discount available until dawn on 1st December so if you want to save yourself $10 do not delay! While I was waiting for the files to upload I started messing around with the little Quickeys script I used to generate this demo which cuts together a 5 second excerpt from each file:

So I changed the 5 second parameter to 3 frames & let it edit that together… hmmmm… Then I tweaked the order of chunks a bit & looped 16 of them…. then put iZotope Ozone across them and switched presets a few times & ended up with this:

Pointless… but kind of interesting…. requires further investigation…..

WHITE WATER from tim prebble on Vimeo.

Detritus 214

A Drifting Up from Reza on Vimeo.


> love this exploded turntable t shirt


> best use for an abandoned oil silo?

Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 Kruunuvuori Light Art piece from Lighting Design Collective on Vimeo.


> The dangers of not checking the preferences


Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – a2 (Official Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.


> I just discovered the work of Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa – wow!!!



Sonograma.org: Which are the common points of your experience of silence and sound in your work?

Toshio Hosokawa: For Japanese traditional musician silence is very important and very different unlike the European musicians. A good example of that difference can be shown with Japanese calligraphy – the Japanese calligrapher draws a line but he does not start on the paper rather the beginning starts at some point in the air. And what you see on the white paper is the drawing, but it is only one part of the movement, not the whole experience. I have to say that those hidden air movements are essential to the drawing and without them there would be nothing to see. For me, the music is like that. I can also use the Japanese traditional music as an example or the Japanese Noh Theatre… there is instrumentalists hayashi who played like this -with his hands, Hosokawa show us a visual and auditory example of how it sounds. He move one hand drawing a semicircle in the air and then clap his hands. There is a longer point you cannot listen, but then comes the hit, that is the sound. This part is the silence and the silence is as important as the sound itself. The silence makes the sound more intensified and without that the sound will be faint.
You can as well find this in my music. In Japanese traditional music we say: Ma- the silent movement – intensity – between sound and sound. In Japanese culture this Ma is very essential. Japanese architects also use it. We can find this interaction in the nature, between two seasons – autumn and winter, between night and day.
Maybe in European music the only important thing is the resound hit, that is a sonorous blow. This is like a big cathedral; where you can find eternity. But for us the beauty can be found in a cherry blossom and this is such because it remains very short time – there is no eternity. The flowers whiter but then they bloom again the next year. This is another example of “in between”- Ma. For the Japanese this Ma is very significant, also for life itself that is why life is beautiful. There is no eternity; we have no God.
Sound is like a blossom, because it comes and goes and the silence is not nothingness, the silence is full of sound if we could only hear it. If I can put this very strong intensity in the silence, then the sound becomes stronger. To make a strong sound we need a very strong silence.



Scattered Light 55

Scattered Light 55

Shot 1st October 2012 on Shodoshima, at the location where the movie 24 Eyes was filmed


Scattered Light 55


Scattered Light 55


Keisuke Kinoshita’s Twenty-Four Eyes beat Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as Kinema Junpo’s Best Film of 1954 and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 1955!

Scattered Light 54

Scattered Light 54

Shot last Sunday November 18th in Otaki when I was out recording material for the next HISSandaROAR library… Here is the promo video for it:

WHITE WATER from tim prebble on Vimeo.


My new hobby – digitizing vinyl

Not sure if hobby is the right term, but leisure time activity reminds me of Leisure Suit Larry… yeech! Maybe background task is better? Anyway I set up a vinyl digitising station yesterday, using gear that was gathering dust, so I can start digitising vinyl before it starts gathering too much dust!

When I’m working on things at home (writing/blog/data etc) I listen to music most of the time so I figured I might as well listen through some of the more interesting vinyl I own & record it at the same time. I’m not aiming to do this for the purpose of loading my iPod, I’m doing this for other reasons. Very good reasons. Have I told you about my record collection?

Last time I moved studios I posted the photo below, and that gives a little idea of it, but its the details that are very interesting… See amongst my library of records is an actual Music Library!

vinyl rules

So maybe a third of my records I inherited by being the right person at the right place at the right point in time…. And so I received a call on a certain happy day a decade or so ago, that the big collection of records I had kept asking about, were on their way to the dump – was I serious about wanting them? HELL YES!

See this record collection came from a post facility that has existed since the era of silent movies… Accordingly they had collected all of the music libraries that were available, for licensing use in films, video etc… But as times change & technical evolution occurs these unused & unloved LPs hadn’t been touched in decades…

vinyl rules

These records are an incredible resource as a reference and source of inspiration (& god forbid…. sampling!) but I am very clear about the legalities of music licensing and of course many of these companies still exist but a quick flick through reveals literally hundreds of music library albums from labels such as KPM, De Wolfe, Sylvester, Impress etc etc…

I’ve owned a copy of this LIBRARY MUSIC book for a while, but to actually have access to the records is a crate diggers wet dream… And yet all I have done with them so far is make sure they are stored carefully & have an occasional listen to some of them… So here is my new digitizing setup:

vinyl rules

Technics SL1200 + Vestax PD2000 > Pioneer preamp > Apogee MiniMe > SPDIF into ProTools 002r at 24bit 96kHz > Mac Mini server running ProTools 10…

I know I could use an audiophile steam powered turntable with oxygen free cables in a room with negative pressure air con… but then again I more likely wont – I’m a pragmatist.. and its taken me ten years to get around to starting this process…. But I’ll explain what I plan to do as I haven’t really started yet and I am open to suggestions!

– Digitise each side of LP at 24bit 96k > archive 24bit 96k master A+B sides
– Break each song/track into seperate files > name & tag metadata > output 24bit 96k master individual tracks
– Output 16bit 44.1k and 320 AAC files for easy/quick access/reference
– Shoot photo of album covers & inserts > archive original photos + output real size JPGs

Does this make sense so far?

So one question, before I start digging through google etc – what is the best way to clean records before digitising? I know expensive record cleaning machines exist, but whats a more practical approach?

Here’s a little selection of the first few I will digitize, even the names are genius eg Music for Space and Oceanographic Science by Eric Towren (wow – quick search & not that I would or could ever sell these but the last copy of this LP sold online for US$81!)

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

vinyl rules

Scattered Light 53

Scattered Light 53

shot in Takaishi, Osaka on October 25th, 2012 – I imagined this was the stairs the woman climbs down in chapter 1 of Haruki Murikamis 1Q84

Scattered Light 52

Scattered Light 52

shot in Takaishi, Osaka on October 25th, 2012 after a long, tiring but excellent day recording industrial ambiences…

Detritus 213


> What colour is middle C?


Read about the back story to these works


> handy app WaveTapp captures whatever sound your mac is currently playing (thanks for tip Tim N!)


Everywhere / Matt Pyke & Friends / Super-Computer-Romantics from Matt Pyke on Vimeo.


“What is very common with the way I shoot, however, is that when I finally find an actual location in the city that moves me in some way, I’ll often wait there literally for hours until the right person enters the frame, or just the right momentary random circumstance occurs. Of which I’m usually able to get one frame of film exposed and then the image is gone forever.”


Touch the train window ! from particle at rest on Vimeo.


> It’s the starting that feels impossible.


> animated GIFs – hardly news, but these by Erdal Inci are stunning!! As is this:

seagulls loop from Erdal Inci on Vimeo.


MEZZO MORRA • i suoni della Sardegna from Vincent Moon / Petites Planètes on Vimeo.

MEZZO MORRA – the sounds of Sardinia – beautiful work by Vincent Moon