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Assignment 2: Water Sounds with Christina and Anastasia!

September 9, 2009

We decided to take Xavier’s suggestion and play around with water. Water is such a versatile sound, and our plan was to discover and record the different sounds that water might make when poured into various objects made of diverse materials. This idea worked out even better than we thought it would! The quality is so good that you can hear the metal bowl ring out in a low tone when the water is poured into it, as well as the crackling sound of tiny bubbles popping as the water settles into a container. One complication that arises out of being able to hear so well, though, is figuring out how to tag the sounds. It’s easy enough to tag the metal bowl filling with water with words like “metal,” “water,” and “bowl,” but what about “low ringing” or “crackling”? Or, in the case of the clip of the metal spoon hitting the water, I feel like “metal,” “spoon,” and “water” are sort of inadequate tags, because who ever wonders what a metal spoon sounds like when it hits the water? If people are going to search Freesound for cool effects to use in a piece, they might search something like “smack” or “slap,” but I’m not sure if those words accurately describe the sound, either. Any suggestions?

Listen to them here:

As far as the microphone experiments went, it was very cool to turn the omnidirectional microphone around and hear how the sound of the pink noise changed. When the mic was facing forward, the sound came through pretty clearly. As it rotated toward the side, the noise got fainter and fainter until it pretty much cut out, and when the back of the mic faced the speakers, we felt like we were only hearing the echoes of the sound off the walls, and perhaps more high frequencies. Unfortunately, we weren’t aware of the different settings on the microphone until it was too late…we’ll have to check it out later!

-Christina and Anastasia

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2009 2:09 pm

    It is amazing all the sounds qualities that come from just blowing bubbles or pouring water. We do not have the vocabulary to express all these sonic variations but we have to use what we have. There are two clear approaches for doing it, by describing the physical process that generated the sound (as Gaver talks about in his article “What do we hear in the world?” published in 1993) or from a more perceptual approach (as Schaeffer describes in his “Traité des objects musicaux” first published in 1966).

    So, according to Gaver, there are 4 types of liquid actions: Drip, Pour, Splash and Ripple. Here we are clearly in the Drip and Pour actions. Then we can talk about viscosity of liquid, size of objects, shape, force, amount of liquid poured, height from where we pour, …

    From a more perceptual approach we can use sound qualities like: Pitchness, Roughness, Brightness, Richness, Metalicness, …

    So it is not easy but you could have used tags that reflect these sonic concepts.


  2. jaykadis permalink*
    September 14, 2009 7:36 am

    It sounds like the microphone was in cardioid rather than omni mode, since an omnidirectional pattern would not diminish in amplitude noticeably at any angle. Do try the other patterns if you have a chance.

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