Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Listening at the Aquatic Design Centre

As well as recording in the Aquarium at the Horniman Museum, I decided that I wanted to record some more domestic sounds - i.e. the sound of the kinds of aquariums one might have at home - to link with the fish-themed wallpaper which I mentioned in this post. The Aquatic Design Centre folks were extremely accommodating and kindly allowed me to stick hydrophones into their tanks, and to tinker in their amazing, watery, Aladdin's Cave of aquariums for a few hours recording sounds.

I found it slightly harder to record in the Aquatic Design Centre than in the Horniman Museum, because the fish tanks are much smaller, and the C-series hydrophones are designed to float rather than sink in the water. Nonetheless, I managed to get the hydrophones submerged enough to hear a large variety of burbling filtration systems and tiny, tiny fish sounds.

The highlight of the visit for me was watching the clownfish. Clownfish are protected from predators in the ocean by the stinging tentacles of the anemone, and in one of the tanks at the Aquatic Design Centre, two little black and white clownfish took it in turns to rub themselves all over an anemone. I fancied I could hear the tiny sounds of this action within the recording, but there is a lot of environmental noise which makes it difficult to hear for certain.

As one of the hydrophones picked up a lot of noise from the air and the surrounding shop, I stripped the sound of it from the recording, and so this is a mono-recording from the one hydrophone that I could get closest to the clown fish. I think there are some nice delicate sounds in this recording, although I am surprised by how much noise from the shop can be heard underwater in this fish tank.

Here is another recording I think also of the clownfish, but this time with a pair of hydrophones and less background chatter!

If you are ever near Great Portland Street, I can thoroughly recommend going to the design centre to see all the amazing fish and to listen to all the watery sounds. Is it just me, or is there something just lovely about watching fish moving around in the water?

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