MD Series: Maria’s Song

So as it turns out, I got so wrapped up in finishing the dissertation that I didn’t share with you all the final result of the Maria’s Song Soundscape. Check it out here:

Maria’s Song, for those who haven’t read my previous posts, follows the story of a pupil of the Wilberforce Memorial School for the Blind called Maria Wilson. She was a pupil in the rough period of the previous soundscape ‘A Walk to King’s Manor in c.1850s.

Using the spirit of Maria Wilson as a narrator, I aimed to tell the story of one of the many public exams held by the school. The purpose of these exams was both to educate the general public as to the skills that many of the blind pupils possessed and to raise funds for the school to try and make the school more accessible.

I loved making this soundscape and I really felt at one with Maria. The more research I did about her life, the more passionate I became about trying to make the soundscape respectful and representative of her.

She was a fabulous lady who was famous for performing in the local music halls in the North Yorkshire area. She was a noted soprano and often performed with some of her friends and fellow alumni of the Wilberforce Memorial School for the Blind. She apparently was very fashion focused and had a love of bright bows on her outfits despite not being able to see them herself. She sounds like she was a lady full of life and talent.

As always, let me know what you think about this soundscape. I am so excited to put this out into the world!

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Bordesley Abbey application

DSC01471So, funny story time. For one of my masters modules I had to propose an interactive museum application for a museum of my choice. I chose Bordesley Abbey, arguably the most historically significant place in my hometown of Redditch.

I designed it so people could download an application and go round the abbey scanning the builders marks to learn more. It would have interactive games and it would be a lot of fun. Little did I know when I was theoretically pitching my application in my masters module, AP Interactive had already made the app and launched it just after I handed in my pitch. It was kind of spooky to be honest!

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MD Series: A plotted walk to King’s Manor

Need help visualising the journey you are taking on ‘A Walk to King’s Manor’ soundscape? Then wonder no more. The map below gives rough time stamps to give you an idea where you are in the soundscape in relation to the map. Why not take another listen?

A Walk to Kings manor map

MD Series: Premiere of the first soundscape

So, after months of work and refining, I can finally let you all hear the first soundscape that I’ve been working on. It’s called imaginatively ‘A Walk to King’s Manor’. This soundscape is made up of ambient sounds to take you back to a day at King’s Manor, York, UK in the 1850s.

In the 1850s, for those new to the project, the King’s Manor was inhabited by the Wilberforce Memorial School for the Blind. This school aimed to teach the kids not only basic lessons such as maths and English, but also ways of supporting themselves from basket making to playing a variety of musical instruments.

I hope to put all this across as you take a virtual, audio journey to the King’s Manor building. So, without further ado, take a listen on the player below:

 

MD Series: The Importance of Music

Music is a very important tool for setting the tone of a piece. It changes how the audience views a piece, how it makes them feel and how they feel the characters are meant to feel in a scene.

You only have to look at this famous clip of Star Wars without music to see how important music is to a scene:

Do you feel how awkward that is? Well, it’s no different when you’re putting together a soundscape. Particularly ones that centre a lot around music.

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Blindscape

So, whilst doing some research for my dissertation I came across this application called Blindscape. Which you can find on the Play Store and the App Store.

It’s an interesting application in that the main protagonist is blind. So, the screen throughout the entire game is black with an exception being made for if you need hints on gameplay. The game, when you load it can seem quite sinister for this reason I think (I kept waiting for a jump-scare!) but, it’s actually really beautiful! So, don’t let the start put you off!

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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.