Field Recording – Hands

Following up on the HISSandaROAR Field Recording Competition I asked the winners in each category to explain a little about their sound, what were they thinking??

OK what would you expect from a recording of your hands? Claps, snaps, knuckles…. Someone submitted the sound of ‘one hand clapping’ which they interpreted with a rather literal attempt at clapping with one hand – had they interpreted it poetically (it IS a Zen koan after all) I suspect they would have been on to a winner. I am not criticising their interpretation, exactly, but it was predictable, whereas these winners were anything but predictable!



GIORGIO FERRARI – Hands clapped under a car parking dome




JEFF CONARY – Hands nuckles rubbed together as motorcyle

How did you discover this particular sound?
Jeff: “I ran into the sound mostly by accident. I had originally just recorded several minutes of different hand sounds hoping that I would come across something that I really liked but, after listening back, there were only a couple of sounds that I didn’t think were terrible. There were a few that were very similar to helicopter-bys, but I didn’t think they were quite good enough as is, so I decided to re-record. After trying a couple of new takes, I noticed in one of them with a slower and more steady rhythm sounded a lot like a motorcycle engine and worked from there.

How many takes did you do to find it?
After deciding to go with the motorcycle sound, I did another 5 or 6 takes but ended up using the first one. Since I had been attempting similar sounds prior to that, my knuckles had already started to blister and I was getting progressively worse at getting the sound I wanted with each take.

What gear did you record it with? recorder? mic/s?
I recorded with a single MKH 8040 into a Sound Devices 722.”



JIM OLLIVIER-BERTHOU – Hands outside clap between two walls


Jim: “This is the terrace’s house of a friend in Brittany, beautiful country by the way. I discovered by coincidence this particular reverb with an object falling on floor. It was the first sound I recorded for this competition, the easiest one in my mind. I even try to make the others props in this particular place but the results weren’t so good. So for the hands, I made one take of 5 minutes with differents intensities and rhythms of clapping and I chose the one with the best reverb tail.
The mics (MS mics : Neumann 120 and 140) wasn’t exactly in the middle of the two walls. I thought that it was better not to be exactly in the middle to have more mess in the reverb tail. It was taken with a field mixer, the AETA 4minX, I love its preamps!



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