Sound Workshop & Experiments

Yesterday morning we were given a sound workshop by Dr Ed Kelly. First, he addressed  some sound theory and after, we engaged in sound practice using sound material from the Camberwell Audio recordings in the sound application Audacity. For me, though I had a productive morning, it was all very fast-paced and a lot to take in (mental overload!).  I was thankful that I was in the studio, as Jacky and Jack were sitting nearby so if I didn’t catch something, I had someone else to ask for assistance (thanks guys!). I thought to myself later that day, if I had been On line, I certainly would have encountered problems.

That evening after I returning from London, I checked through the Skype chat session (on sound) and fished out useful bits of information. As follows:

The Dr: Sound, unlike video, is continuous in and through time. Its resolution in time is something like 44100 samples per second (unlike video which is 24-30 frames-per-second). We can look at an individual video frame and it can still make sense, but an individual audio sample has no meaning apart from its context in time (i.e. you have to play back many frames at 44100Hz to get any meaning or understanding of the sound)

The Dr: Perhaps, and I say this to all of you, you should investigate Creative Commons work. There is a site called – it is like a social network for sound recordings. You can register for free, and then browse or serch thousands of user-generated audio files
Use WAV and AIF or Aiff formats instead, and if you do get mp3 files to use, the first thing is to convert them to wav or aif  – Good tip, I’ve always used mp3

The Dr: You can ONLY filter out the crickets because they produce a narrow band of frequencies. The point i’m trying to make is that when you’re trying to record something you need to be totally aware of everything in the room that is making a noise, since the microphone cannot listen, it can only hear. It picks up everything

JK: just to remind you all that you can log in to using your UAL id and you will get loads of video tutorials including ones on audacity and Adobe Audition

JK: as always with software, never try to learn software!! instead have an idea of what you want to do and then look for the relevant bits of the tutorials, this way you have a goal, an aim and your learning will be far more effective  (I found this very useful advice!)

The Dr: HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT  I want you to record 1 ambient track (a soundscape of somewhere – even if it’s your home with the fridge on) and 3 short (< 5 seconds) sound events.

The Dr: You may do this for fun, but the main thing is to have the sound files so that when we look at interactive audio and audio processing in 2 weeks time, you have some of your own material to play with.

The Dr: NEVER save your files as mp3 except for only two reasons. 1) you are sharing them with a friend/client and you don’t want them to have the best quality version for copyright reasons. 2) it’s too big to email. Always keep uncompressed versions of everything, and do your actual work with those. -Useful to know

From yesterday’s studio session:

Sound clip 1: Australian ambiances recorded by Dr Ed Kelly (Apparently Christmas Day, 2009 in Sydney)

Sound clip 1 (edited):  After importing the mp3 into Audacity, I just worked with ‘getting to know’ the interface. The application seems user-friendly. Here, I have just simply trimmed the sound down to a few seconds adding echo.


Today made a start with the homework. Using my Olympus Voice Tracer, I recorded a few ambient sounds in Eastbourne high street. However, after listening, I wasn’t over-pleased with the results; the frequency was very blurry and I couldn’t hear any clear distinctive sounds. I decided to use some shop ambient recordings I made in Tokyo last year. I had used my Nikon camera so I ripped the audio from the video ( ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’ ) from an on line converter. Sticking to the Dr’s advice, making sure it was converted into a WAV file as opposed to Mp3.

Below is the original recording of Village Vanguard Shop Ambient:

I began by trimming and modifying the start (fade in effect) and end (fade out effect). Then, cutting out areas of the recording which I deemed as uninteresting. Surprisingly, each cut isn’t distinctly noticeable especially if you think that sound is continuous. I then analysed areas I could modify. The ‘echo’ effect has been included on two distinctive sounds and in the final seven-ten seconds of the recording. Also, I noticed an interesting crunching sound around five seconds in which I compressed.

Village Vanguard Shop Ambient (Edited)

For some unknown reason to mankind, wav,aiff and mp3 files didn’t seem to work after uploading so  had to add the edited audio to the original footage.

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