Electrical pylons. Towers dominating the landscape, fields dissected by lines of parallel wires. Their symmetry and incongruity have always been appealing.
For years I have wanted to record their steel frames. Passing them along country roads I have always wondered about the sound vibrating within them. How does its low level frequency affect those who live around it; can we hear crackles of electricity, a low monotonous drone?
Until recently these questions had been a source of frustration with each pylon sitting within private land. However on a recent trip to Canberra one electrical pylon stood by the side of a quiet road. I quickly took the opportunity to record it.
The recording process was hampered by wind and rain however the contact microphones brought an otherwise inaudible side of the pylon to life. Its sound being quite different to what I had expected. The recording is short due to the weather and my fear of being apprehended by the authorities so I still don’t feel entirely satisfied with the end result …
… but here it is, my first recording of an electrical pylon.
4 thoughts on “Electrical Pylon: contact microphone recording”
They’re great aren’t they? I’ve recorded a few of them. There’s a few around the area where I grew up (Dapto) on public land. One in a car park next to where I used to play cricket as a youngster. It’s my favourite. I plan to make a four-channel recording of this one with a contact mic on each leg.
I too was surprised at the predominant pitch of the vibrations in these structures. I was expecting much lower frequencies. I can only put it down to the shorter lengths of metal coupled to the longer lengths by bolts (the crossbeams). There’s some great harmony structure in these structures(!), and I would like to compliment your recording in this regard.
I would suggest that if you are able to make a longer recording, you should be able to find an excerpt that works in terms of form. I have one which is kind of like a short sonata! This is all up to the wind.
Once again, a pleasure to listen to your work.
Ah, you are very lucky to have some on public land. Recording without the fear of flashing lights advancing towards you!
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head regarding the frequency and short stretches of metal. Such massive towers with unexpected high pitches.
I’d love to hear your recordings so inflow have a link please let me know 😀
Some of those tower recordings are so old, I think they were done with a Nagra! Some on DAT. I’m sure I digitised the Nagra ones and they will be on a hard drive somewhere. Unfortunately I have an extensive backlog of DATs to archive – I will get around to this one day…
Actually, since this short discourse with you I have decided to go and do another recording of these towers and others. I will try and remember to take photos as well. Time is mine enemy these days (I’m studying at AFTRS for the rest of the year…)
Shortly, I will be launching a new website (two actually – one for business and one for music/art/etc) I will definitely keep you posted and I will be sure to include your excellent blog on the links page. In the meantime, my poorly maintained soundcloud is http://www.soundcloud.com/thebrentwilliams. I can’t remember what is up there…