Field Recording – Soda can

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??

First up is the soda can. Before you listen to any of these sounds, what would you expect? Or more importantly what would you try yourself? I expected the classic open, the hiss/spray of a shaken up can and the sound of an empty can being dropped or kicked…. And that’s what many people submitted very good recordings of, so respect to them. But I was really after the unusual, and thats what I got from these recordists – such intriguing sounds!



ANDREAS USENBENZ – Beer Can Ripped Bowed Contact Miced


Andreas: “This was a really long process. I recorded several sounds from opening the can till the complete deconstruction. Bowing wasn’t quite easy as i had to hold the can between my feet and hands to make the tension that i wanted to have. Than i bowed it and recorded the sounds via the schertler mics. I varied the tension of the can by moving the hands a bit. I hope you understand , what I did.



BILLY WIRASNIK – Soda Can underwater blow bubbles into can contact mic




COLLIN RUSSELL – Can Drag Thumb On Bottom


Collin: “I am currently studying as a Electronic Production and Design student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. One of my all-time favorite instructors, Michael Brigida (ARP, Kurzweil) teaches a course called, “Advanced Studies: Techniques in Digital Sampling.” In this class, Michael asks us to find an object and “exhaust” any and all sounds from that one object. I kept this advice in mind while experimenting with the different props for the Hiss and a Roar competition.

I tested many different ideas with the soda pop can. I tried bowing it with a violin bow, plucking the tab, crinkling it, crushing it, etc. I can honestly say that I exhausted all of the ideas that I could think of for that particular object. In the end, I decided to rub my thumb (with a considerable amount of pressure) up and down the bottom of the can. This gave me a sound that had a ominous, door creaking quality. Needless to say, I loved it.

This sound was performed on an aluminum Yerba Mate tea can. It took 9 takes to get this particular sample. I recorded it with a stereo pair of Neumann KM-184 microphones through a True Precision 8 preamp. It was all captured on a Pro Tools HD192 System. “



JAVIER ZUMER – Soda Can old and rusty pipes

Javier: “This sound was produced by a regular soda can. After trying the obvious sounds like hits or playing around with the tab, I thought It would be interesting to use the can’s metallic resonance.
I also tried those bigger energy drink cans looking for more interesting “acoustics” but the regular european 330ml can sounds the best. The sound is articulated rubbing a plastic fork against the can’s edge (the drinking hole sharp edge). I tried other objects, like a metallic fork or a knife, but they introduce their own metallic harmonics and I wanted to have the “purest” sound as possible only coming from the can itself.

I did about 15 takes of the same sound and then cut the more interesting one.

The sound was recorded with a Sennheiser MKH 416 and a Tascam HD-P2. I also tried a lavalier microphone inside the can, which I imagined could sound interesting, but it wasn’t very much. So, good old 416 close to the can and pointing to the hole.”



MIKE NIEDERQUELL – Soda Can Laser Boing Launch

Mike: “The soda can was probably the most fun for me to record. The first few things I tried were flicking and plucking the tab on top of the can after I had opened and drained (drank) it’s contents. Kind of neat but nothing too exciting there so I then began to shred the can into a spiral pattern. It now kind of looked like an art piece you would see hanging at a garbage dump. After performing on that for a couple minutes I still thought it sounded too identifiable and nothing extremely captivating. Since the can was more or less ruined at this point I grabbed another and drained it’s contents again. While I was standing at the sink where I had drained the can I had a thought to fill it back up slightly with some water. I then started flicking the body of the can with my index finger and got something I thought was pretty unique. Depending on how high the can is filled with water it would cause the pitch and resonance to vary. I thought it sounded the best with the can only filled 1/8 to a 1/4 high. The biggest tip to capturing the sound though is to bend the can’s tab so it’s vertical and hold it only by that. This will prevent the sound from being dampened and will cause it to resonate more. In the end, I think it took me three to five minutes to come to a sound I wanted to submit and maybe another couple minutes to get to a performance I liked. I used a Sony PCM-M10 to record the various takes. I love that little guy!”





Raquel: “To capture the sound of the soda can I used my cat’s metal comb to hit the soda can (in the middle) filed with liquid. Once I hit the can, I tilted the can so the liquid could move inside it. This motion produced the sound!
After about 40 takes I got the sound I liked!

For my recordings I used the following equipment:
- audio interface: Edirol UA-4FX by Roland
- microphone: NT5 by Rode
- DAW: Logic Pro 9
- headphones: AKG K271 MkII”



TEIS SYVSIG – Beer can meditation chime


Teis: “When I drink from a can I usually bend the metal on the top – that way the opening of the can gets larger (more liquid goes through) and the round piece of metal on top of the can turns upwards. The way I discovered it was when I held the can in the upper metal piece and hit it with my finger it made a cool chime-like resonance.
I then hit the bottom part of the can against my old H4′s internal mics – which creates a low boom in the attack, but a can resonance in the sustain and release.

I think 5 different sounds from the can and with this particular sound approximately 5-10 takes”



HISSandaROAR Field Recording Competition WINNERS!

As per the field recording competition launched last month we received a lot of excellent entries, and I mean A LOT! But what was surprising is that there wasn’t one clear winner. Literally everyone who entered the competition captured good recordings of the five props (an apple, a pencil, a rubber band, a soda can, your hands) but making a good recording was just one aspect of what I was after. So I worked my way through all of the recordings tagging individual sounds that appealed to me. For some props there were a LOT of great contenders eg for rubber band and soda can there were maybe a dozen uniquely great characterful recordings, whereas for pencil and apple and hands there were plenty that did the obvious but few that had really imaginative creative ideas behind them.

So, before I announce the winners I need to announce a change to the prize structure; originally I offered a single grand prize of COMPLETE 25 along with 10 x $150 vouchers, but as there is no one overall winner I have decided to redistribute the prizes amongst all the winners…. So each of the 21 winners listed below win a prize of a US$200 HISSandaROAR voucher.

If you entered and your name does not appear, please don’t be too disappointed – as I said, all of the entries were good and most were very good. But these were the people who captured excellent sounds, sounds that made me smile or feel momentarily elated or perplexed or challenged or who inspired me. Or made me think: HOW DID THEY RECORD THAT!?

HISSandaROAR Field Recording Competition WINNERS:

Andreas Usenbenz
Andrew Ing
Billy Wirasnik
Collin Russell
Daniel Clay
Giorgio Ferrari
Henrique Brion
Javier Zumer
Jim Olivier-Berthou
Jeff Conary
Justin Doyle
Kai Wolf Paquin
Manuel Eisl
Mike Niederquell
Paul Love
Raquel Luis
Richard Savery
Robin Fencott
Samuel C Richards
Stefan Kovatchev
Teis Syvsig

So the procedure from here: if you are one of the winners, I would like to make a series of follow up posts, one for each prop, and include the winners recordings along with some comments from each person about how and why they approached the recording the way they did. It was really inspiring to hear the range of approaches taken, so I think it would be great to share. I will be in touch with each winner, to request permission to include their sound/s, photo and some comments…. AND to find out which prize libraries you would like!

Congrats everyone and especially congrats to these top twenty one field recordists!

Scattered Light 100



Shot 24th August 2013, up the top end of Lake Tekapo. I was drawn here primarily to do some recording, but when I saw the beautiful structure of the gravel I had to jump out & shoot photos as it so reminded me of the beautiful karesansui dry gardens in Japanese Zen Temples, except I was imagining a zen monk with a very large rake!




I also shot some very wide versions & love them cropped to 2.35 but it doesnt really work on such a small screen as this blog – load this 1600px wide photo for the full effect (its ungraded & other than being cropped for 2.35 it is ‘as shot’ with my Canon 5DMkIII and 16-35 F2.8L lens)




And having reached one hundred Scattered Light posts I will be taking a break while I travel to Shodoshima, Japan to start my Artists Residency. This involves moving a lot of atoms – first driving to Picton, catching the ferry to Wellington, unloading the 4WD and VERY carefully packing the essentials. Then flying to Auckland, stop for a night and then on to Kansai via the Gold Coast… And then catching the ferry from Kobe to Shodoshima!


A whole new adventure is just starting!!!


Scattered Light 99




Amazing how a crop and colour grade alters the mood and feel of a photo – these are the same photo, shot at Lake McGregor Aug 24th 2013 (the latter graded with Topaz BW)






Scattered Light 98 St Bathans

Saint Bathans is a location with a lot of history, dating back to the gold rush with estimates that by 1870 over 2,000 people lived & worked there! Now there are just six permanent residents but it is a spectacular landscape and an incredibly peaceful place, especially in winter! The apparently haunted Vulcan Hotel was built in 1882 – must have been before Spocks TV career!

St Bathans!

History casts long shadows…

St Bathans!

St Bathans!

St Bathans!

St Bathans!

shot a beautiful time lapse of sunset of this little pier – will upload it when I get time

St Bathans!

St Bathans!

This last shot was taken 9pm at night (f/16 iso200 107 second exposure) – I headed out to do some recording, as I wanted to capture the very quiet lake waterlap without any birds present… I’ve been reading a great book on shooting landscapes at night (Seeing the Unseen – How to Photograph Landscapes at Night, great value at $8 for kindle version) so this was a little test that came out beautifully…. It was a full moon and I took my torch along but it didn’t take long to realise it was mostly unnecessary – had totally forgotten how light it is outside under a full moon!

Shot Aug 20th 2013

Scattered Light 97 Danseys Pass

Getting there is half the fun, right?

The initial getting there of this particular field recording trip involved a slightly surreal excursion into the clouds! I have traversed Danseys Pass (935m) once before, but it was maybe 5+ years ago & it was summer (a QTVR I shot at the summit is here)

This time it is/was winter, I kept my fingers crossed.. the forecast was good so I first made a quick side trip to Lake Aviemore to do some recording…..

the mainland!

I drove back to the east to Duntroon, then turned south, and started climbing…. gravel muddy roads, leading into the clouds…

the mainland!

At a certain point it became apparent the mountains were disappearing into the clouds! And not just discretely, completely!!! Driving along I started to wonder at what point would the road meet these clouds….

the mainland!


the mainland!

This is right near the summit (although thats easy to say in retrospect) I pulled over to shoot this power pylon, mostly for the way the cables disappeared into the cloud…. Two minutes after I stopped a BMW 4WD pulled up: ‘is this the top??’ – I could only reply; ‘I’m going in the opposite direction & have been climbing for the last half hour..’ This seemed to cheer them up… I asked if he was in 4WD ‘no….’ – I had been for 15 minutes, not because I needed to be but I’d rather reach the other side having not needed 4WD, than get in trouble ‘cos I wasn’t…. and it had been muddy, with severe drops/cliffs off the side of the road….. and there had been two or three signs saying DANSEYS PASS: OPEN 4WD only which made me be glad to not have to take the 2-3 hour redirect…

the mainland!

I presume they got there safely…. ‘slowly & safely’ were my last words to them… They looked nervous, I was loving it – how often do you get to see things like this!?!

the mainland!

the mainland!

the mainland!

This was out the other side – descending to the south…. It was about 5pm by then, so despite it being winter the land would normally still be well lit… And I was still about 45 minutes from my destination, Saint Bathans… And for all that remaining time driving, seeing the golden dusk lighting the Central Otago landscape, I kept trying to remember the poetry/text from a particular Colin McCahon painting….

I never remembered it, but the universe provided the answer for me. I arrived at St Bathans, just before it got dark… Picked up the key to the jail where I was staying for a few nights.. Unlocked the door and walked into the bedroom, to be met by a print of the exact same McCahon painting I had been thinking about…

the mainland!

view/buy a print here

the mainland!

some photos from St Bathans to follow – a deeply surreal landscape!!

Detritus 268

> Sculpting waves in wood and time


> Fashionably dressed animals


more info here


> imagine a world without google? easy, plenty of entities would step in to fill the gap, but presently they (or should I say we via them) consume 40% of all internet traffic!


ukeleles? hmmmm….well, if you must…. but techno on a ukelele? skip to 5’55″


> i love this! 3d printed FFTs!!


> and related to the previous, I don’t care too much about baseball (although I love those fully enclosed baseball diamonds in the middle of Japanese cities) but this season data display is genius – scroll down & check out the animated gif of the 3d acrylic stats lit by an iPad!!


> Making Music with a Möbius Strip


> If I could build my dream house and only furnish it with three items, the first would be an Eames lounge chair, the second would be a studio built to my specs, and third would be this:


> life, its a weird beach


> checkout this beautiful (unembeddable) video: Dance of the Water Droplets


> if I owned a concrete mixer


> a question for bass players: is this genius? or something else?


> This evening I saw Jim Jarmuschs new film, Only Lovers Left Alive which was the closing film for the NZ Film Festival, and I totally loved it – it is definitely up there with his best! And great soundtrack, congrats to Sound Designer Robert Hein, Dialogue/ADR Brian Bowles, re-recording mixer Dominick Tavella and all of the sound team! Thoroughly enjoyed the mix and every element!
Almost needless to say the film also had a great score (has a Jarmusch film ever not!?) but beautiful work since the score originates directly from within the story… Very happy to see this film on the big screen…. Highly recommended!


> Off on my last road trip down south, before leaving the country. Heading south via recording stops at Waitaki River, Lake Aviemore and Lake Benmore, and then over Danseys Pass to Saint Bathans where I am staying in a jail for 3 days, and planning to test the hell out of my timelapse.motion control rig…. then to Arrowtown for 3 days, recording Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and Lake Dunstan before heading back north via Lake Tekapo! One thing you can be sure of, there will be photos! Have to enjoy winter while it lasts – three weeks and I am in Japan! And summer! I can’t wait!!!

Working Blind

For those of us obsessed with sound and music, the idea of losing our primary creative sense is unthinkable. I cannot think of a more confronting reality than to be made aware of some form of degenerative hearing loss (more fool you if its voluntarily caused by your iPod or not taking ear plugs to loud concerts!) but what if you had to work blind? With little or no eyesight, would you continue to work with sound/music?
The answer for me would be, HELL YES! I can well imagine it intensifying the process, as the distraction of vision is removed the focus on hearing would surely become absolute…

But what about the practicalities? Can you touch type? Do you look at the keyboard when you execute shortcuts? Finding your way around a physical instrument would be ok, even if it required adding small indents or bumps for locating octaves or specific notes, but what about apps? Could you edit sounds with ProTools without looking, ever?
A friend made a request for help with this very subject: did I (and thereby you) have some suggestions for blind sound editing? He had already checked out my ProTools mouse-less editing post from a few years ago… So a question for you:

1. What other options or ideas would you suggest, if you had to set up and use ProTools with zero visual feedback? Even better, do you know someone who is visually impaired and doing this? Obviously this can’t involve sync to picture, but say you were editing dialogue for a talking book or a radio show? What shortcuts, setups or extra hardware could be fundamentally beneficial?

And a second question:


When I do my Artists Residency in Auckland later in the year, I will be holding a listening workshop and one of the exercises/experiences will involve wearing a blindfold – to effectively make the listeners temporarily blind. So my second question is:

2. If you had a small audience of blindfolded people, what are some of the most interesting perceptual hearing tests or audible experiences you could provide? or from the other point of view, if you were blindfolded, standing in a paddock and wanted to have your perceptions engaged, what form might that take? I’m not planning this to play music – its more about listening and perception….
As an example, the first idea that came to my mind was about locating the source of different kinds of sounds. So I will have say five people standing at various distances and locations around the audience (ie in front, to the sides and behind) and ask the audience to point their finger at the location of the sound. Then try different sounds, comparing a percussive hand clap versus more continuous tones eg a harmonica.
What would you try?

Detritus 267


> Tarkovsky advice for young people of all ages


> mmm slow cinema



‘real’ sync of a series of explosions


> Love Boscomacs Reaktor instruments & effects and since my last visit theres been some updates & new effects released, check them out HERE & don’t forget to make a donation if you use them!


> Someone posted these on Muffwigglers forum, not sure who to credit for them but thought they were too surreal to not share….




“help! I’m being shot at by a guy driving a white grand piano!”



Quotidian Record is a limited edition vinyl recording that features a continuous year of my location-tracking data. Each place I visited, from home to work, from a friend’s apartment to a foreign city, is mapped to a harmonic relationship. 1 day is 1 rotation … 365 days is ~11 minutes.


> Consciousness and the decisive moment