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So many bikes… – Assignment 1

September 8, 2009

Anyone who has ever set foot on the grounds of Stanford University knows that bicycles are an absolutely unavoidable part of campus life– unavoidable, as in, that same person, if they happened to come out unscathed from the visit, may well have nearly lost toes or been mere inches away from a trip to the hospital with massive head trauma after a bike collision with some rushing, unobservant student. The fact is, our campus has an incredible abundance of bikes. But what more could you expect from the world’s second largest contiguous college? For students and faculty alike, the bicycle is both a crucial means of transportation and, as some late sleepers might say, even crucial to academic success.

Fellow student and comrade in sound, Peter L, had the brilliant idea of taking advantage of these many bicycles for our first sound project and I eagerly joined him to sonically document this integral part of Stanford culture. To this end, I went out with Peter on Saturday morning (Sept 5th, 2009) to search out the best and most definitive bike sounds complete with spinning spokes, whirling wheels, flapping flags, and Clanky Kickstands. For two hours we searched the campus and successfully found a wide variety of very interesting and evocative sounds. I think we both agreed that the ability to manipulate the spinning tires of an overturned bicycle was by far the most intriguing sound as we were able to record an almost infinite number of descending frequencies as we stuck shoes, pencils, and a finger or two into and onto the quickly revolving tires.

You can find our many bike sounds here! (Peter and I split up the sounds because there were too many for just one of us to handle, so also check out his here)

At the end of our recording session I was still intrigued by the range of bike sounds we had created – all types of frequencies, timbres, qualities, and lengths. I could have spent literally all day and still not found every facet of the bicycles sonic capabilities. What I most wanted to do, and still may do before the end of this class, is go around all of campus and record every single bicycle bell for a total work consolidating all possible pitches and timbres of the iconic ring. With as many bikes as we have on campus it would almost be a shame not to, and it would lead easily into a sequel piece entitled “Ups and Downs: Life of a Kickstand”

ENJOY! and ride on!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 8, 2009 7:33 pm

    Definitely a lot of different sound qualities out of a single bike. It would have been better to record a bit louder some of the sounds. The descriptions could also be improved a bit since the types of sounds are so diverse. The idea for recording different bike bells is excellent!!!

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