MD Series: Planning a Soundscape

16465316_830187407131732_81770911685935104_n-minA lot of planning actually goes in behind the scenes to create and execute soundscapes in Archaeology. You’ve already gained some ideas as to what that involves with the posts about what existed in the 1850s and researching old maps and photographs. But, there is still more to it than all of that!

Working out the concept

books-441866_1280With soundscapes, you still need an idea about what you are trying to get across to your listener. It’s not good enough to just say that you want to tell the story of a particular place or a particular time, you need to know which narratives you are bringing to the fore. Do you want to tell the story of one person or do you want to create a general ambience piece? Is it artistic or historical in execution? What is your intended audience for the piece? All these things and more need to be considered.

You also need to consider practical elements such as the time of day the soundscape is occurring in and the general timing for the soundscape.  How long does it roughly take to walk from the road to the river etc.

landscape 1

You also need to consider if the soundscape is an MP3 file or whether it is something that will be geolocated. This will effect both the timing and execution of the soundscape.

Collecting the sounds

So, you know what you want to achieve with your soundscape but now you need to build it. You need sound!

Now you can record sounds yourself, recommended if possible, but there is a wealth of free sites out there on the web. Here are a few I’ve been using so far:

Freesound

  • All the sounds are free to download when you create a free account
  • Easy to search system
  • Easy to reference the sounds as all sounds include a title, author and publication date
  • All sounds tell you how many people have downloaded them and have a five star rating next to them
  • Can preview the sounds on the search result screen or click to their personal screen where you can download the content
  • My favourite site to use thus far!

Site can be found HERE

ZapSplat

  • All the sounds are free to download once you create an account
  • Easy search system
  • Referencing not quite as easy. Author and date often missing
  • More limited in number of sounds but have found some good quality content missing from FreeSound
  • Can preview the sounds on the search result screen or click to their personal screen where you can download the content
  • A useful alternative to FreeSound

Site can be found HERE

Putting it all together

I’m using Audacity to layer and edit my clips together into a soundscape. This stage involves a lot of trial and error to get the sound levels, directions, number of repeats etc. to get right. A stage that I’m at and learning from right now!

I will talk more about this stage and later stages i a further blog posts in the near future.

Keep up to date with the new series. There will be a new post on this blog every Wednesday at 12:00 GMT. 

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One thought on “MD Series: Planning a Soundscape

  1. Pingback: MD Series: Creating a soundscape | How the Past Met the Present

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