Contact microphones – my favourite portal to listening to “the inaudible”. Whether recording in domestic spaces or the outside world I love nothing more than connecting contact microphones to inanimate objects and listening to their voice. Not only do they reveal unexpected tones and pulses but they also stand in contrast to their surrounds. The juxtaposition between the landscape and its elusive auditory companion keeps me occupied when I’m on field recording trips.
Thredbo in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. A short metal bridge crosses a creek at a place alluringly called Dead Horse Gap. The ambient sound is as you’d expect, a rush of water gurgling over rocks, a pleasant soundmark for those lucky enough to spend time there.
What took my interest though was the potential of any sound that might vibrate within the metal handrails of the bridge. I wasn’t disappointed. A sound similar to the low drone of a pipe organ moved with the flow of water. With headphones on, looking at the surrounding landscape, I had my own private soundtrack to the region. What could be better?
Moving the microphones to the bridge’s thin wire-grill deck a shrill high-pitched sound replaced the softer tones that flowed beneath my feet. It wasn’t a sound that was easy to fall into however I continued recording as I thought it held the potential to be mixed into a slightly nightmarish composition somewhere in the future.
I left Dead Horse Gap feeling lucky to have experienced its hidden soundscape. With temperatures well below zero it was time to return to the apartment for some warming red wine.
Next, electrical sounds in hotel rooms …
5 thoughts on “A bridge in Thredbo (or, why I love contact microphones)”
Thanks for sharing. Enjoying your work.
Wonderful, I enjoyed being taken into this secret world of sound. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment … it’s always good to know these recordings are being enjoyed.
I’m writing an essay on the importance of soundscape in reflecting meanings of the environment. I’ve used this example as I thought it was interesting. Almost seems to me like the sound creates a hidden environment or another dimension to the environment (I’ve referenced you and your work)
Thanks Alanna. I’d be interested to read your essay once it’s finished 🙂