I am now at the point of mixing the sounds and the interviews in order to produce Sonic Wallpapers. Today I am working on the design that inspired the recordings in the BDA Museum, and some of the recordings in Barnet Museum. The accession number for this wallpaper is BADDA 4386. I'd be really interested to hear what you think the design looks like, based on the sounds...
...based on what people said about BADDA 4386, the sounds of pearls and vintage dental instruments have been recorded and layered to create a specific kind of sonic texture. I have mixed down one minute of sections purely comprised of sounds, so that you can hear the field-recordings mixed together without the words. You'll notice a kind of low-level hum which fades in and out of the other sounds; this hum is the sound in MoDA's study room, and is comprised I think of air-conditioning, electronic circuitry, and computing equipment. If I do not use this sound as a texture beneath the interviews, there is a very hard sound as the recordings of people speaking enter and leave the mix...
...this little section of background noise acts like a kind of sticky plaster, which can be used to match the joins between pure field-recordings and people speaking in a room which is not completely silent.
Because the inherent soundscape of MoDA is both noisy and quite bassy, and because all of the imaginative associations with this wallpaper were contrastingly light and delicate, I did some things that I do not normally do; I processed the interviews to try and remove some of the background noise; I added a very tiny quantity of artifical reverb to evoke the sense of being in a shinier space (like the one referred to by interviewees in the discussions about this design); and I used the graphic equalising tool in Adobe Audition to very slightly accentuate the higher frequencies. The decision to process the sounds in this way was led by my not being very happy with the relationship between the delicate associations and imagery evoked by the interviewees, and the monotonous bassy traces of the MoDA study room in the final audio. I hope I have not processed the sounds into feeling too alien, and that the acoustics of MoDA and the natural voices of interviewees remain. Have a listen to this first example, and let me know what you think about the effects of the processing on the piece overall; I'd love any feedback on the work I have done here.
I also produced a second version of this Sonic Wallpaper design, in which the field-recordings have been layered slightly more densely, so that the references - to pearls, to antiquity, to time, to the dentist, to teeth - are emphasised. Can you hear the differences between the two recordings, and which one do you prefer? To my ears, the encoding process which Audioboo uses has given the files a slightly lossy, mp3-esque nastiness, but other than that I am quite happy with the results.
If you leave a comment, would you mind noting what you are listening through - i.e. studio monitors, headphones, (what make?!) PC speakers, laptop speakers etc.
Thank You for listening, and stay tuned for forthcoming Sonic Wallpapers!