RAIN24021017BCN: Field recording, Barcelona

Rain, Barcelona.

I love rain, I’m sure that you all know that by now. I made this field recording last week from my window while I was working.

The sound of the rain is always beautiful. In this case, it’s interrupted by cars from time to time and you can also hear some construction workers that are restoring a nearby building. I recorded the sound using a Zoom H2n, without external microphones.

About my recordings of rain

I started recording the rain a long time ago, I think that it was in 2009, but I’m not sure. I have an archive of field recordings, most of them from Barcelona, where I live. You can find a lot of these recordings at Archive.

I started recording the rain using a Mini Disc, now I use a portable digital recorder, sometimes with binaural microphones. I like to walk under the rain, so some of the recordings are soundwalks.

I’ve also created some audio mixes for radio and magazines: Framework Radio #503: 2015.03.15 and #562: 2016.07.24, and Siete pronósticos de lluvia, focused on films.

I also have my rainography blog: images, texts, sounds, videos, paintings, and all kind of things related to rain.

Why I love rain

I live in Barcelona, which is not a rainy place, but I was born in Ferrol and I grew up in A Coruña, two cities in north-west Spain, on the Atlantic coast, where it rains a lot. Really, a lot, like 130 days per year. Maybe I just miss that weather, I don’t know.

Some people think that Spain is all the same, all sunny and hot, but that’s not true. Barcelona is a perfect example of that typical Spanish idea, sunny and hot, specially in summer, most people love it, but not me. Sometimes Barcelona is too hot and it’s uncomfortable.

In any case, in Barcelona there’re sometimes really huge storms, and I love that!

Audible Frequency Range

Just a small test, a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency sweep heard as sound and seen as images. Sound and images are the same files saved in two different formats (AIFF and JPG). Images were generated chopping the audio file in very small fragments (the equivalent to one frame) and saving them first as RAW and then as JPG using Audacity and ImageMagick.

Psycho 60/98

WARNING: This film contains flashing images.

“Psycho” (1960) by Alfred Hitchcock and “Psycho” (1998) by Gus Van Sant collide in a frame-by-frame editing that assaults the eyeballs and assassinates the normative consciousness of the viewer. The footage seem to penetrate us, as though it was a knife or a threatening phantasmagorical entity. The fast succession of single frames and extremely short audio files produce afterimages and aftersounds—entoptic and endaural phenomena—creating a film that does not happen on the screen, but in our brain cells.

*Just a technical note for those interested on how things are made, this film consist just of both shower scenes fragmented in frames; the odd frames are the shower scene from the Hitchcock movie and the even frames are the shower scene from the Van Sant remake. No image or sound effects of any kind, just the frames. Sense-destructive cinema, enjoy! :)

I love flashing lights warnings from films and TV shows

Warning: This film contains flashing images and stroboscopic sequences

This one is from A Field in England by Ben Wheatley. I remade the original intertitle that I had because it was a bit small for a HD video.

Due to Violent Content, and Flashing Lights with Strobe Effects, Viewer Discretion Advised

This one is from Hannibal, my favourite TV series ever (it’s from “Takiawase”, season 2 episode 4). The DVD doesn’t include this warning at the beginning of the episode, but it was there when it was broadcasted on TV.

Computer Music Studies

During last month, I spent most of my time making a series of audiovisual pieces entitled Computer Music Studies. The sound, and the title, are by Mikel R. Nieto, who provided me with twenty tracks. This work was made for Nokodek Festival.

The initial idea was to make a series of audiovisual pieces based on digital feedback. That is, using configurations in which the audio output returns to the audio input, generating an internal digital feedback which usually is nonlinear and difficult to control. The sound was generated in an autonomous way using different configurations of the same pattern. (I don’t know which audio software used Mikel, if you’re interested in the sound tracks you should ask him).

The video track is not feedback, but data bending, which I guess could be understood as a kind of digital feedback because it uses a stream of data—in this case audio data—to generate another kind of file—in this case an image file. It’s not feedback, obviously, because I’m not routing the output back as an input, but in certain sense I’m routing the ‘output’ data of one format as an ‘input’ for another. In any case, it’s not generative, it was made frame by frame.

What I did was splitting the audio tracks in fragments of around 41.67 milliseconds—the equivalent to one video frame—using Audacity. I saved all those files as .raw, then I opened them in Photoshop, and I saved them as .jpg. So, what you hear and what you see are exactly the same data.

This video is just one of the twenty pieces, the complete work is around 40 minutes. It can’t be played live, because the data bending part is almost ‘handmade’—the conversion phase is not automatic, it’s painstakingly slow—, so even it was made for a music festival it’s more like a series of films than ‘live cinema’. Machine music for machines.