Tag Archives: bells

New Year 2017 Temple Bells and Fireworks

This recording is also on radio aporee ::: maps.

On New Year’s Eve I wanted to record temple bells and fireworks along with other rural sounds from a nearby location with little traffic. I thought one of the Yasugawa riverside parks might be far enough away from major roads but still close to home.

There are no lights near this location and no place to park a car at night. I had to go by bicycle, so I practiced in daylight on December 31st.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

In daylight I mounted a small audio recorder on a light tripod. That practice helped me when I mounted an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder on the same tripod late at night in the dark.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

At night I recorded from at about 23:30 on December 31st until about 00:10 on January 1, 2017. As I was recording, I sat on a park bench with a nice view of Mikamiyama.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

View of Mikamiyama from the public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

The audio recording sounds pretty noisy, but that’s what it’s like in this suburban area with so many people and so much activity. We become so accustomed to noise that we just filter it out. Maybe that’s why they announce the year with fireworks. Those midnight explosions are hard to ignore.

New Year 2014 Temple Bells

Temple bells in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, ring in the New Year 2014 just before and after midnight. This recording was made along a path between fields northeast of Takano Shrine. The location can be seen on radio aporee ::: maps ::: Tsuji.

Field in Tsuji, Ritto City

I mounted the recorder and stereo microphone on a camera tripod. After recording began, I left the headphones on the tripod and moved away. The recording volume was set at Mic Sense High, Level about 5 on my Olympus LS-100 recorder. A few drops of rain fell, but not enough to hurt anything.

Recording New Year 2014 Temple Bells

The bells are quiet at these distances, and we can hear the rumble of traffic, a few trains, etc. This location is surrounded by roads, and we can hear trains on three railroads. If you listen with headphones at high volume, reduce the level at about 05:30. At midnight (05:41) a few fireworks appeared over Yasu City to the north, and one bird called out as it flew overhead (08:15).

Japan is a country of great sonic contrasts. Everywhere in Ritto we hear traffic and other human activity, but, except for vendors in small trucks, residential neighborhoods are quiet. On the other hand, many social and cultural events are punctuated by very loud percussive sounds. People chant, strike bells, pound on drums, set off fire crackers, enjoy large fireworks displays, pound rice with large mallets, etc. The contrasts between background ambient sounds and explosive sounds such as fireworks make field recording a challenge. In this recording I left the relative sound levels as they were. In post-processing. I trimmed the original recording to ten minutes and raised overall level to -0.2dB. As it was in the field, quiet sounds are difficult to hear while fireworks are overwhelming.

Most old families live near temples in their neighborhoods, which are clustered along narrow roads. They can hear their local temple bells clearly. For example, last year I made recorded the bell that we hear near the center of the sound field on this recording. At that time I was in a small parking lot about 20 meters from the bell as neighborhood adults and children took turns ringing it.

Whichever recording you prefer, Happy New Year from Japan!