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Final Project- Making it Rain

September 16, 2009

The piece is titled Fresh Episode

Description: Last Sunday night, I trekked out for a casual walk with my recorder amidst Stanford’s most torrential rain storm in months. There was a light drizzle coming down, and even with just that, it was amazing how much the campus soundscape had changed from what I had come to know so well during this two weeks. My footsteps had a different intonation, the crickets had ratcheted down there chirping, bikes and cars picked up a light spray with their tires, and everything had the lulling hush of rain as a backdrop. The world had become super saturated and with it, all the sounds had become a little less crisp and seemed just a bit more subdued (except for a passing plane, which I decided to use in contrast with the other less defined sounds).

Inspiration: Maybe it’s because I’m from Seattle (and miss the rain here in Cali) or maybe its because I like makin it rain, but either way, I was immediately sure that this was going to be the basis for my final soundscape piece. I threw out my other ideas (fruit orchestra, shaving my mustache, etc.) and blended some others (recreating a street background to play along with on guitar in the studio, creating a rhythm from atypical objects) into the rainy piece.

and Methodology: I took a walk in the rain on Stanford campus and recorded what i could. (You can find some of the raw sound files here on freesound.) After capturing the sounds, I went into the studio and arranged a street scene, a rhythm from the raindrops, transformed the sound of a passing plane, and then jammed along on my guitar. All the sounds you hear (except guitar) were recorded during my walk in the California rain “squall.” Most have been transformed. For Instance, the song ends with me reversing and then time stretching the sound of water rushing down a gutter (this can be seen with the slow granulation of frequency towards the end on the spectrogram).

Analyzing the soundscape: The spectrogram, like the song itself, is pretty dense from a sonic standpoint. You can see the rain saturating many frequencies. The guitar’s melody is seen during the piece’s first half with its assortmentt of harmonic frequencies. The plane and its falling arc transformation are also seen prominently in the middle. Finally, little sound clouds towards the end and the beginning mark the areas where a car or bike passes with both the sound of its engine and the chaotic disturbance of water.

Freshslide 1

All in all, there were five movements in the piece (or four with an outro): [1st] Rainy Street Scene  [2nd] Plane Interruption [3rd] Rain beat Returns! [4rd] Down the gutter [5th] Rainy Outro


Rain on!

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