Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sonic Boundaries

Since I arrived on Wednesday, I've been visiting different locations in Corner Brook, recording the mill whistle to capture the way it sounds throughout the city. Not surprisingly, it sounds different depending on where you are -- and not only in terms of how loud it is, but the reverberation and length of the echo, etc. These differences are a result of the natural landscape of Corner Brook (a bowl), built structures, and proximity to the mill.

Today, I decided to make a recording from one of the newest subdivisions in Corner Brook -- an area called Bell's Brook (in the Sunnyslope Drive area). My recording consists of about four minutes of leaves blowing in the wind, a neighbour's radio playing, a fence door creaking, and birds tweeting, along with snippets of traffic here and there. What is not on the recording is the mill whistle.

Today is Canada Day. There's no construction going on in the area, no roadwork, and there is very little traffic as a result of the holiday. If there was ever a day to hear the whistle in this location, it was today. (Unless of course the wind direction was the cause...) I can't blame the recording techniques or hardware, because as I stood there straining to listen, I couldn't hear anything that sounded like a whistle.

First I thought: epic fail. And then I realized, not hearing the whistle is just as important as hearing the whistle. When I started this project, among the many questions I posed, was: How far does the sonic impact of the mill and its whistle extend, or what are its sonic boundaries? After attempting a recording today, I can now begin to answer this question. It doesn't extend to the new subdivision.

Where else is the whistle not heard? Time and more recording adventures will tell.