An Audio Diary in Binaural, January 2021
This creative development project was supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
In January 2021, I was fortunate to spend some time in the Northumberland National Park making new field recordings. I was working in a range of formats, with a particular focus on incorporating binaural techniques into my creative practice.
I was assisted in the field and throughout the editing process by sound engineer Corrie Livesey, who worked as my field assistant and sound librarian. The project provided an excellent opportunity for Corrie and I to build on collaborative processes developed in previous projects.
I was guided throughout the project by the experiences of my remote mentor, sound designer Mike Winship, who is known for his work on a variety of exciting binaural projects, including the sound walk Aeons produced by Opera North.
You can now listen to an edited collection from my time in the field, and hear for yourself the convincing effect of high quality binaural audio. As well as some speech, the piece contains layers of subtle sounds with a generally wide frequency and dynamic range and is entirely recorded in binaural, so listening with headphones is essential.
What can I hear?
The piece begins with a very brief explanation of how the binaural effect works, with a comparison between a conventional voice recording and a binaural voice recording.
Followed by a brief edited sequence of the drive to a location, with the binaural head rigged in the passenger seat of my van. You will hear some layered binaural spot effects of opening and closing doors and unpacking equipment.
The piece then moves on and explores the first person perspective of walking with the (very heavy!) binaural head. Here we have the added benefit of crunching snow underfoot! Followed by a static ambience in the same snowy field with the head positioned in front of the River Coquet looking towards Hepple.
We then move into a longer, but more dynamic, extract from a dawn chorus in the small town of Alwinton - with guest appearances from the occasional passing farm vehicle. This section is a condensed version of a full hours recording of the sunrise waking up an exciting array of bird life.
Finishing with the eerie ambience of Harbottle Woods, with the snap of pine cones dropping all around and distant animals calling out above the murmur of traffic.
Why so long?
The piece is 33 minutes and 42.5 seconds in total. Many listeners feel that the transparency of the binaural effect increases over a prolonged listening period. The longer you listen, the more your brain is 'tricked' into thinking that you are actually hearing these sounds first hand. I also generally prefer to make long format recordings whenever working in the field in order to avoid any unwanted repetition in the ambiences.
Sound design, field recording, mixing and mastering by Matthew Tuckey. The field assistant was Corrie Livesey.
With thanks to Corrie Livesey, Mike Winship, Cinzia Hardy, CALM Theatre Sounds, Gareth Fry Ltd, and Arts Council England.
Recorded in the Northumberland National Park between 12th and 15th January 2021 using a KU100 binaural microphone on hire from Gareth Fry Ltd. with additional equipment hire from CALM Theatre Sounds.
Pictures by Corrie Livesey.
all rights reserved.
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.