Disquiet Junto 0258 Sonic Climate

The Junto this week asked for a short piece of sound that expresses your local climate this time of year.

This subject matter brought to mind Junto #106 that used the weather as a graphic score, which had been a productive direction for me as that track was used by Regional Arts NSW. However, I was a bit reluctant to take that approach again this time.

After reflecting on the term "climate" and seeing the word "mileu" suggested, I began thinking on notions of personal context as well as the weather.

At this time of the year the Western Riverina of New South Wales is characterised by warm days, although when the Junto email arrived temperatures had dropped as winds from the south brought a cool change. So I had in mind the track would feature a break of some sort and I guess the pitch dropping is a representation of that.

Earlier in the week I'd been playing an old treadle-powered organ and thought it'd be good to use, although I haven't yet properly recorded it.

I looked at other video recordings I've made at the Museum and decided these could reflect my mileu. Most of these were made for the Instagram account.

You can see in the video the samples include Griffith's town band, who provide horns and also the kick drum. There's also Mr Grumbles, the sometime resident emu, as well as another bird that I haven't identified yet.

My son is in the opening using a hand-operated water pump, there's some of steam machinery shed and you can hear the steam-blown whistle there in the shot of the horses that were pulling a replica of Mickey Cush's carriage, as well as couple of hits from a blacksmithing demonstation. Near the end you can see the large button that's for a foot-operated bell that can be heard through out too.

There's also the sound of cicadas, which are a familiar noise during the Australian summer. This week I heard them for the first time this season, although it was cooler and they were making a lower-pitched sound. I also read they can be as loud as 120db, in contrast to a lawnmower at 90db.

While remixing environmental sounds is something I've done a bit of for projects like my playground remixes, this was the first time I've manipulated audio recorded on an iPhone.

It was going okay until I started adding compression, then the higher frequencies started to hit my hearing. This was accentuated by the headphones, which I've been forced to use since I bought a brand new secondhand Macbook earlier this year and have had problems using my Firewire soundcard in combination with my Universal Audio devices.

Another drawback was Ableton Live kept crashing while exporting video, so you only get a brief glimpse of the cowbells that play throughout the track and only a bit of the three Town Band samples too. You can see bandleader Trevor Peacock wearing a band uniform from decades earlier for the "exhibition day" we held to mark the centenary of Griffith.

There aren't many effects used on the loops, although most have been repitched. I EQ'd mostly lower frequencies for everything except the kick drum, which is only lower frequencies.

Everything has a gate as well, although for my son and the cicadas it starts a little way into the track. The cicadas has Live's Beatrepeat acting as a rhythmic gate for a high-hat sorta sound, then it turns off during the organ break in the middle.

The title 'One Man's Dream' comes from a book written by former museum manager Perry Howard about Pioneer Park Museum and is a reference to Charles Sharam, who was instrumental in establishing Griffith's community-run museum that celebrated 45 years of being open to the public earlier this year.