Tag Archives: fireworks

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.

Fireworks, a large red, green, and white spherical firework above a river

Yasugawa Fireworks – 野洲川花火大会 – 2015

Our local summer fireworks festival – 野洲川花火大会 – was held on July 25, 2015. Hundreds of people lined the riverbank along Yasugawa Sports Park to watch a 30-minute display of fireworks over the river. Many arrived in late afternoon, lined up to buy food and beverages, and enjoyed some entertainment before the fireworks began at 19:45.

Before the fireworks began I found a location upstream from the main event area, where I could record in peace away from the crowds. First I set up my tripod and tried different lenses with my camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I selected an Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens for its focal length, wide aperture, and wonderful manual focus capability.

Yasugawa Ohashi

I wanted to capture high-quality audio, so I mounted an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone with a Baby Ball windscreen and a Windjammer and a Tascam DR-70 four-track audio recorder on my camera tripod. The camera was mounted on the Tascam recorder and received input from the recorder. I made a four-track dual stereo recording with the secondary tracks recorded at -12dB. This proved useful at first, when the mic gain was set to High. After a few minutes I set mic gain to Low with the recording level knobs at about 11:30. This worked well, although I had to stop recording in order to change mic gain because the Tascam recorder does not have a hardware switch for mic gain.

After minimal post processing with only trimming and overall level adjustment, I posted the finale (05:30) on SoundCloud:

The recording location can be seen on a map at radio aporee ::: maps – Yasugawa Fireworks.

Although I concentrated on video, I also took a few still photos. I tried about 2-8 seconds at various apertures with ISO 200. Some long exposures worked well, but timing can be tricky!

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

More photos can be seen in my Flickr album, Yasugawa Fireworks Display 2015

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.

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!