Flight and Airport – 1
Monday, 15th of June 2015
The eastern part of Amager – if not the whole island – is marked by the Airport – Copenhagen-Kastrup: Airplanes and helicopters and their sounds are ubiquitous which will be seen troughout the following explanations.
This is the reason why I decided to start my quest for sounds of Amager even before I reached Denmark. For me the actual fact of traveling is a crucial part of every voyage and because I went to Copenhagen via airplane I though felt the necessity to record my flight from Berlin to the danish capital from the start to the landing. As technical equipment should not be turned on during the entire flight I decided to use binaural headphone microphones by Soundman (OKM II Studio) attached to a ZOOM H1 handheld recorder. Using this combination it was possible to pretend to listen to music (headphone mics) and to hide the little handheld recorder easily so that the entire flight could be captured. Selecting a recording sample rate of 96 kHz (24 bit) assured a very detailed and clean sound weherby the use of the binaural mics resulted in a fantastic stereo panorama.
Soundexample (start, announcements, landing)
After the landing I turned the handheld recorder on again (whilst the other passengers turned on their mobile phones) and recorded some impressions inside and outside of the airport still using the headphone mics.
Soundexample (walk to the baggage pickup, walk to the metro, sitting on a bench outside the building)
Amager Strand – 2
After having arrived to my accomodation I directly headed to the spot that for me characterized Amager: Kastrup Søbad (see main header image).
Having access to a bike I had the amount of mobility that was needed for my sonic adventure. That wass the reason why I decided to drift around a bit before finally go to the sea bath also called ‘Sneglen’ – the snail.
I arrived at a very tiny beach in the north of Amager Strand, sat down, looked around and listened to the diverse sounds this spot had to offer: Boats, birds (ducks, doves, seagulls, sparrows), the wind in the trees, airplanes and helicopters (of course), a rumbling highway and astonishingly loads of motorcycle sounds.
This monday, 15th of June 2015, was a very windy day but as this little beach was surrounded by trees I found a spot where recording with a boom arm and cardioid mics made sense. Due to the richness of the soundscape I decided to make four channel recordings using the ZOOM H4n: I positioned the boom arm in front of me and the handheld recorder in my back. I wanted to capture the birds flying above me as well as the mechanical sounds constantly changing directions due to the wind. Because the recordings were supposed to be diffused in multichannel environments I though already got a spatial recording that could easily be spread onto seven or eight channels. The cardioid mics as well as the ZOOM-mics were set to X/Y position using a wide angle characteristic of 120°. Already while preparing the trip and the technical equipment to take I decided not to use omnidirectional mics as it is common practice when recording ambiences. I prefer experimenting with the angle characteristic of dicardioid mics to capture as much of an ambience I want to but having the freedom to follow some unique sounds as soon as they appear by using the boom arm. Listening to the second example down below one can hear that I followed (mics were set to approx. 90°) the helicopter flying in the sky remotely. For this reason there’s a constand presence of the helicopter without loosing the ambience around me.
Sound example (four channel – stereo mixdown)
Due to the omnipresent wind I had to equalize the recordings: There’s a low cut at 58 Hz with a steep transition to avoid disturbing deep wind sounds.
Sound example (dove, helicopter; stereo)
Recording only via the cardioid mics allowed me to find a spot where I could avoid the disturbing wind | low cut at 48 Hz.
Hydrophone – Amager Strandpark – 3-5
Wind was becoming more intense and I decided to continue towards the sea bath by passing through the whole Amager Strandpark. I started at the very north at a pier (see image above) where a father and his sons were fishing. Due to the weather conditions recording with microphones was senseless so I decided to do some recordings with a balanced mono hydrophone at different points of the park.
The first spot has been the tip of the pier by the turret. I placed myself next to the anglers and threw the hydrophone with its 25″ long cable into the water as if I would troll. I attached the mic to the ZOOM H4n because the H1 doesn’t provide an XLR input. By reason of the heavy wind I hardly heard something through my headphones besides wind noises. The only sounds that were constantly audible were the crackling that occurs when the hydrophone hits stones and the rustling when it hits plants inside the water. Only while editing the sounds at my accommodation I noticed some striking soundings: In the range of 630 Hz and at about 1,7 kHz. These sounds just were very soft and had to be amplified to become audible. One can only guess what these sounds derive from: One could think that because of the spot of the turret near a small sailboat marina it could be a navigational signal such as a sonar. I guess for a typical sonar sound it’s not cyclic enough. I also do not know why in the second half of the recording the sound is constantly getting louder. I’m quite sure that the resonances were emitted by mechanical, technological sources.
Sound example (first sounds around 630 Hz are amplified, then around 1,7 kHz)
Near the pier I found this old boat lying in the water. I wanted to record the floating water inside of the boat’s trunk. I approached the sea and threw the hydrophone several times into the wreckage. This time it was easier to hear what I was recording: The hydrophone hit against the different parts of the boat periodically. It has been the swell of the waves that determined the movements of the mic.
Heading steadily towards the south of the park I stopped at another pier that hosts a café. Because I was at the spot after 6 pm the construction works were already finished for that day and the chop of the waves was much less intense than at the other pier. This one here was more protected due to its architecture. This lend to more precise recordings of those technological sounds described above. Now one could say that they are cyclic – they might be sonar like, navigational signals situated around 550 Hz now. At the pier an angler stopped by and interviewed me about the things I’m doing. I described how to record underwater sounds and he got very interested in it. He was eager to try it out so I let him capture some moments. At the end he was disappointed about the little one can hear trough the headphones – also this time the sounds that I’m highlighting underneath weren’t audible. I told him that there are sounds that only could be made audible through computer and DAW editing. Now I unfortunately can’t make him listen what finally resulted after the sounds have been edited.
Kastrup Søbad – 6
At about 8 pm I finally reached Kastrup Søbad and was fascinated about the spot, its architecture and how it’s integrated into the park – seeming almost naturaly to be situated there. As the wind conditions still remained the same I continued with the underwater footage. I tried to capture the intense swell by holding the hydrophone just underneath the water surface. One can hear the waves hitting the microphone and sometimes even the wind blowing. The most interesting was that later some young swimmers came and jumped into the water being naked – even if the outside temperature wasn’t much higher than 15°C and I doubt the water temperature neither. I managed to capture one of those jumps – one can hear it at the very end of the following recording.