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Studio Soundscape - with Kingfisher

Posted by Dave Bull at 1:20 AM, May 14, 2009 [Permalink]

How would you like to drop by my workroom for a visit? Do you live too far away? No fear ... with the 'Studio Soundscape' recording that was made this afternoon (with my new Zoom portable digital recorder), you can sit by my side as I work on one of the prints, and 'listen in' to what is going on.

The Soundscape is linked from a new page in the 'Diversions' section of the Woodblock.com website. In order to make the recording a bit more understandable, I have created a photo 'essay' to show and explain just what it is that you hear during the 30 minute session, which was recorded while I sat at my bench working on a print from my 'My Solitudes' series - with the windows wide open ...

The recommended way to listen to the Soundscape is by downloading it to your computer and then playing it in your favourite music player with headphones. This will give you the best stereo effect, and will put you 'right there' at the printing bench. But the audio can of course also be played directly in your browser too.

I should mention that there is a very special 'bonus' included in this Soundscape. No sooner had I turned the recorder on, than I had a visit - an extended visit - from the local kingfisher. He flew back and forth all during the time I was printing. It was almost as though he knew that I was recording!

I hope you will find this to be worth a listen!


Also, about that Zoom recorder. I'm having such fun with it! I've kind of lusted after a DAT recorder for many years (hopelessly, of course), but it looks as though solid-state digital recording is going to put that technology out to pasture.

This tiny machine is incredibly easy to use, and does - to my ears - a fantastic job of recording; you can hear not only every movement I make, but every little ripple from the river, and all the wonderful bird sounds too. I'm really looking forward to exploring what it is capable of, and I think we'll have more Soundscapes coming soon.

[Update: I have now tried using the Zoom to record the audio for my A Story A Week series, and it has made quite a difference in the results. You can compare: the audio for story #176 was done with a Sony mic plugged into the computer, and story #177 with the Zoom unit.]


Following comment posted by: Dale Evans on May 15, 2009 12:58 PM

Wow! Dave's creative use of relatively new digital recording equipment puts us on a high tech sound stage in his very traditional woodblock printing studio. I think that this is a terrific idea because I believe that we learn and adjust our printing techniques not only to the things we see and feel, but also to the sounds that we make while we work. I recently saw a printing demonstration by Keiji Shinohara in Boston, and found myself more involved with the sounds of his brushes and baren than his color choices as he went through his demo. Dave has given us a gift that we can replay anytime at all - close your eyes and listen! Listen to the 'tink' of the brush in the ink bowl, or the slippery sound of the baren rubbing the damp paper, or pay attention to the sense of stickiness you hear when the sheet is pulled from the block: your technique will improve! Or just listen to relax - that poetic brook does babble, and the kingfisher does sing, and what could be more relaxing than that?!

How rare it is to be able to hear the rhythm and sounds of a master printer at work. Thanks, David, for this unique gift, and thanks for adding yet another dimension to the world of woodblock printing.

Following comment posted by: Dave on May 15, 2009 1:30 PM

The comments about the sounds being important for learning are indeed true; this has been a major handicap for me all the way along (because I have been self-taught).

And it also made me think twice about putting up a soundscape like this. If any of the 'old guys' downtown who are pro printers happen to ever hear this, they will instantly know that it was not made by 'one of them'. There is nothing specifically 'wrong' with the way that I move my baren, but it is certainly not their way. If I had been a proper apprentice in the early stages of learning this craft - sitting the same room as experienced men - then I would have absorbed their techniques far more fully than I have been able to do.

None of this is to denigrate my own abilities, simply to point out that to them, I am very 'different', and will always remain so.

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