Tag Archives: culture

New Year 2018 Field Recording

Here is a New Year’s Eve audio recording made in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. We can hear temple bells, traffic, trains, and other sounds. At midnight nearby fireworks and a neighbor’s firecracker announce the new year. We can also hear the rumble of fireworks in the distance.

On December 31, 2017, I scouted the location to be sure that I could set up easily at night.

Fields in Tsuji

Fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here.

The Compass app on iPhone helped me point the microphone north.

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here with the microphone aimed north.

At night I set up my recording gear a little before 23:30

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at midnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

I rode my old commuting bike to the field and parked with the headlight aimed at the tripod location. With plenty of moonlight and a clear sky, I turned off the light before recording.

Old touring bicycle outdoors at night

Old touring bicycle outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

After setup and testing, I recorded for about 40 minutes. I could see very well with a small headlamp.

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

Frankly, I was a little disappointed with this recording. I’d expected a nearby temple bell to be more dominant, but it did not stand out as I’d hoped. I like the variety of bells that we can hear in this recording, but next year I’ll try to record closer to a temple.

Notes

  1. Recording was done with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder mounted on a tripod.
  2. For post-processing I used the Audacity multitrack editor.
  3. This recording is also available on radio aporee ::: maps.

Yasugawa Riverside Park

Just before noon on January 7, 2017, I made a field recording in a large park along Yasugawa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan (野洲川立入河川公園). The recording was made with a small Sony PCM-M10 digital recorder mounted on a tripod near the lower end of the park. I chose this location in order to reduce traffic and train noises from bridges upstream, as well as the rumble of water at a dam downstream. I pointed the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama.

We can hear the rumble of a nearby dam, traffic, crows, and kids playing in the distance. These sounds are overwhelmed by a recorded public address message broadcast from speakers on a small building on the embankment above the park. The recorded message asks people to obey park rules: no golf, RC cars or aircraft, fireworks, unleashed dogs, fires, littering, or other activities that may disturb people. The same loud recorded message dominates the sonic environment of the park once every hour.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

I often visit this park to look for birds. Egrets, herons, cormorants, and ducks can be found in the river both above and below the dam, and many small birds live in the vegetation along the riverbank.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

On January 7th, as I was recording, I walked upstream and saw a few birds.

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Activity in this park varies a lot, depending on the season, the weather, and the day of the week. But whatever they are doing, everyone in the park hears the same loud recorded message once every hour.

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.

Taiko Practice

Listen to the recording on SoundCloud (5:48).

A taiko group often practices in Moriyama on Saturdays. Sometimes they sound like a professional group, but January 23, 2016, was a practice day for children. This recording is the end of one nonstop session that lasted about 15 minutes.

Taiko practice in Moriyama near Yasugawa along Shinkansen tracks

Taiko practice in Moriyama near Yasugawa along Shinkansen tracks

Taiko practice in Moriyama near Yasugawa along Shinkansen tracks

Taiko practice in Moriyama near Yasugawa along Shinkansen tracks

They practice very close to the Shikansen high-speed train tracks. In the recording we can hear trains pass at about 1:50, 3:12, and 5:20.

Shinkansen going away from the camera across Yasugawa in Moriyama

Shinkansen going away from the camera across Yasugawa in Moriyama

We can also hear some kids shouting in the background. They were playing baseball and soccer nearby on the other side of the Shinkansen tracks.


(See map on Web).

This park extends upriver (southeast) to Yasugawa Sports Park in Ritto City. Even on a gloomy day it’s a nice place to take a walk.

Yasugawa riverbank and path in Moriyama. Trees are in Deba, Ritto City

Yasugawa riverbank and path in Moriyama. Trees are in Deba, Ritto City

New Year 2015 Temple Bells and Fireworks

Since there was a light rain this New Year’s Eve, I recorded from my house by placing a stereo microphone in a window facing North toward the nearest Buddhist temple. Nearby houses reflect sounds, so the sense of space may seem distorted in the recording.

The view north from my house in Ritto City

The view north from my house in Ritto City

This was my first time to use a new audio recorder, a DR-70D. This recorder is designed for DSLR video recording, so it works well on a tripod, with or without a camera, and it offers a variety of input and output options.

I bought this recorder rather than its 2-track sibling (DR-60DMkII) because it can record four tracks at the same time, and it has a dual recording mode, which creates two stereo files from one stereo source. I fed the stereo output from an Audio-Technica BP4025 microphone to tracks 1 and 2 and used tracks 3 and 4 for a second stereo file recorded simultaneously at a lower level (in this case -12dB). I expected loud fireworks at midnight, so I kept the input levels somewhat low (mic sense high, input level knobs at about 10 o’clock); however, I had no way to know how loud the fireworks would be. Fortunately, I did not need the second file because the highest level was -2.2dB. If I had set the input levels slightly higher, I would have needed the second file.

The sonic environment in Japan often covers a huge dynamic range, with relatively quiet scenes punctuated by extremely loud sounds of thunder, fireworks, drums, street vendors, noisy cars and motorcycles, etc. For example, you can search my posts for fireworks.

We cannot fully reproduce the great dynamic range or the visceral experience of hearing thunder or large taiko drums, but in this extreme sonic environment dual recording capability greatly eases the anxiety of field recording.