twentyonevember

Interconnected writes about sound being trapped in physical objects and surfaces (amongst other things), and it reminds me that I’ve often felt like rooms must be able to capture sound in some way, though inevitably it would be rendered into white noise by all the possible wavelengths it might record.

But still there’s this idea in my head that, say, the walls of a recording studio may still somehow hold the physical effects of the sound recorded within – the vibrations of the sounds have left microscopic impacts on the physical fabric of the walls.

It’s probably at least partly why it is so tempting to visit recording studios where important things were recorded, to somehow soak up this ethereal connection – an echo still receding.

I also love when records state not just the venue a recording was made, nor just the range of dates, but the specific date. This is more likely with live recordings (whether performances or those tracked ‘live’ rather than being multitracked). But I love knowing that a recording was of a specific date and time and location. Something very groovy about that. An audio snapshot of a specific time and place.

And on a final related tangent, and calling back to my reference to the radio (not) silence during the two minute’s silence for Armistice Day, I love recordings that capture (by accident or design) the ambience underneath the intended subject of the recording itself. Studio chatter, street noise, audience participation, room sound. I recently bought a gramophone 78 with a recording of Big Ben from I-can’t-remember-when and you can bet I didn’t buy it for the sounds of the bells.

(Note to self, I should make a high res rip of that disc and try and remove the bells as much as I can. And the decades of scratchy gramophone hiss.)*

*do I record it at 78rpm, or 33 and then use maths to speed it up, and will this make the surface noise better or worse?

After dark I tune my shortwave radio to 5140kHz and hear, just faintly, the 1920s tunes being played by Charleston Radio International, a pirate station on the continent somewhere. It is barely audible but I’m so glad it’s there.

I discovered its existence from a painstakingly-assembled directory of shortwave music stations and the information is extremely detailed and accurate. Not quite as satisfying as stumbling on such a station completely by accident, but a different approach, and still so very cool.

It’s such a weak signal that I probably wouldn’t have stumbled on it by accident anyway to be honest. And it certainly wouldn’t have been picked up by my Tecsun’s auto tuning function. I had to check the radio’s manual again to remind myself of a specific tuning feature, despite having owned this radio for years.

For a translated manual, it is fairly well-written and clear, but my favourite insight into the language of the original author is the parts that describe the ‘BEEP’ noises the radio can emit at certain points if required – they are written in the manual simply as ‘B’ and ‘BB’ and it is a delightfully eloquent way of rendering that tone in text.

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