The Wind of Breath

Further to a previous post mentioning my exploration of wind instruments (ie blade of grass whistles etc) via a friend of a friend I had the exquisite pleasure last Thursday evening of directing & recording some of the infinite possible sounds generated with the human breath via wind instruments. The genius I am referring to is an excellent local dude by the name of Bruce McNaught & he came armed with a dozen or more wind instruments….. And while i could provide a fairly specific description of what I needed, my mind was totally open as to how or what the reality was of generating that sound – it ranged from the specific/literal through to the idea of sonifying a metaphor….
The joy of working with musicians from a sound design point of view is that you can quietly push them into territory unknown eg ‘i only want an actual ‘note’ as a small part of the sound – getting to or from the note is almost more important than the note itself….’ And while I fully appreciate that my direction is almost the inverse of how someone learns to play a wind instrument, it easily opens the (right kind of) performer to the infinite… And I could well imagine hitting a brick wall with the wrong ego/personality type, but thankfully I was also working with a performer with an open mind…. Although he arrived with a dozen or more instruments, it took us over two hours of recording to exhaust what we instinctively deemed to be the four most likely instrument ie these:

On the left is a flute of Chinese extraction which employed some kind of onion skin, next is a Japanese Shakahachi while the other two were bamboo flutes of unknown oriigin….. I was, of course, recording 24bit 96k (some of these sounds will work best at half speed) but I also mic-ed with my favourite mic, a Neumann KMR81 pointed at where the primary sound was coming from, plus an Octava MK012 angled towards the main wind/air vent – for I was as interested in the breath/air movement as much as the obvious sound. Apart from trying the usual & immediately unusual approaches, the best material I recorded (& what i suspect will end up being key sounds in the film) were generated by Bruce almost throat singing/humming/harmonizing with his vocal chords while also creating wind/breath/notes with the flute of choice…. It was really something to be in the presence of… & when we finished the session we ended up having an inspired & very honest rant about how the further into exploring music & sound you go, the more you start to appreciate just how large/deep/infinite the scope is! Its a feeling that I can only compare to looking into a deep space telescope with an infinite zoom, and at first thinking; “hmm our stars are beautiful….” and then zooming beyond what you know/can see into the realms of the infinite…. music/sound is as deep as you are prepared to take it.

And vaguely related, this evening I was listening to Worldwide, and Giles Petterson & his studio guest commented about this particular video clip, have a watch/listen – I would suspect its the most interesting sound you have heard today! God bless Hermeto Pascoal and the music of the human breath…

One Response to The Wind of Breath

  1. Pingback: Designing Sound » More than 50 Articles/Tutorials about Sound Design, Recording and more, Plus Wooshes Sound Desing

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.