Secrets of sound


Shotover wood

Recently I was invited up to Shotover wood, on the edge of Oxford, by Stuart Mabbutt to learn about sound.

When you watch a wildlife documentary, how much attention do you pay to the backing sound track?

Do you prefer music or the sounds of nature? Does the music add to the film or distract?

These are some of the things we talked about.

Upon arrival at the wood, we made our way down to an area that was sort of a bowl shape, quite open, no brambles and sloping sides surrounded by trees. Stuart talked about how the carpet of leaves can absorb sound and how the bird song can bounce off the tree trunks.

As it was raining we didn’t get chance to get any of the recording equipment out, but we did stand and listen for a few moments to the sounds and where they came from and where it sounded like they came from.

Back indoors I learnt that silence is actually quite noisy and the importance of using headphones when recording sounds.

We listened to various sounds indoors and thought about how much difference having walls makes, as opposed to being out in the woods.

Then came some physics, not my favourite subject, but on paper we looked at a drawing of sound waves and how they work.

Next came equipment and programs or apps. We looked at shotgun microphones for single species and XY microphones for soundscapes, talked about preamps and parabolic dishes. I got to have a go with a XY microphone which can record up to 4 tracks, which lead to learning about layering sound.

Stuart and I did a short interview which then gave me chance to learn how to edit it on the computer. Stuart’s voice was much louder than mine so we went through the interview and edited mine to match.

It was interesting to learn about different peoples speech patterns as sound waves, and how people pause when talking. If you cut out the pauses it can start sounding wrong as the pattern doesn’t flow.

Stuart runs an audio blog and has a particular theme tune, I learnt how to layer the theme tune over the top of the interview.

Here’s the link to the interview we did. Apologises if it isn’t up to Stuart’s normal standard of editing and he was kind enough to let it go live with my editing attempts.

About Alex White - Appletonwild

This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. My passion is for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I am a keen amateur photographer using a Canon SX60 HS. All the photographs on this blog are taken by myself unless stated otherwise. I am a member of A Focus on Nature, the network for Young Nature Conservationists, BBOWT, The Oxon Mammal group and The Oxfordshire badger Group. You can also follow me on Twitter @Appletonwild Instagram appletonwild
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4 Responses to Secrets of sound

  1. Pingback: Secrets of sound — Appleton Wildlife Diary by Alex White – Macro-sound

  2. We covered a lot of ideas during those 4 hrs.

    Amazed you remembered so much.

    Look forward to doing some live radio with you, either in London or Worcester.

    Will keep you posted.

    Liked by 1 person

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