Week 13

I’m waiting in the foyer of the school for a blippy bloppy sound notification from Skype.  Eventually it comes and and I raise the phone to frame my face.  I say hi to the classroom on screen.  Some say I look different than usual – maybe something about my hair?  Maybe the lighting?  I’m not in my studio today.  Where am I?  I start walking.   I give an excuse about the connection –  “I can’t hear you very well”.  So I walk closer.  And I start revealing some things in the edges of the video frame around my face.  Artwork on the walls, bookshelves.  Hold on a minute…


I finally arrive at  door at the farthest end of the school and open it.  Suddenly I hear them loud and clear.


It’s a very strange sensation seeing these faces without any pixelation.  Hearing their voices without any distortion.  The words I hear match the moving shapes of their lips in perfect sync.  I’m suddenly shy.  I now realise that for half a year I have had an invisible but vast distance between these myself and these students.  I have been shielded by the framing of webcam lenses, the glitches of digital video and the very slight delay in sound which I relied upon to maintain a steady tempo.  Now I’m flustered.  But it’s ok – Chris is here!

We planned a structured session:

  1. Sound-walk around the school grounds – write down the sounds you hear.  What makes the sound?  What are the characteristics of the sound?
  2. Choose 8 sounds that you will record.  Notate these in non-literal imagery on a page.
  3. Record your 8 sounds.  You can the sounds with objects or with your voice in mimicry.  Perform multiple takes to get the sound just right.
  4. Play your sounds for the rest of the group.  We will guess what the sounds are and we will talk about the characteristics of the sounds.

I was a bit anxious when the students seemed so excited by experience of being outdoors that they seemed to pay little attention to the soundscape.  With some questioning Chris and I provoked some nice reflection on the characteristics of sounds in the playground.

The choosing and notating of sounds proved more successful that I anticipated.  The group I worked with produced a wide variety of sounds picked from the listening exercise and moved out of figurative drawings to end up with some nice abstract notations.

Quite a range of approaches the recording part of the exercise.  Some rushed through – others made multiple takes.  Some used voice while others explored what sounds they could make with their surroundings – shaking branches!

The show and tell (listen and tell?) was full of incorrect guesses and I loved it.  I think the opportunity to listening, identify and correct our misperceptions was really useful.  It was time for us to contemplate how the rest of the class approached the recording activity in relation to ourselves.  It demonstrated the similarities and differences between certain sounds and vocal mimicry.  It showed us that intention and reception can be two entirely different things.

(above: listening)

(above: choosing sounds for the soundboard and notating them visually)

(above: sounds being recorded outside)

(above: playback in class)

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