Microphones allow privileged auditory access. With the use of contact microphones, audio vibrations can be detected through solid materials and through water (if waterproofed). These offer an experience akin to ‘auscultation’ since the microphones need to be placed in direct contact with a surface and resemble a stethoscope.
Michael Gallagher writes about their use in allowing access to the discrete or seemingly inaudible: “Contact mics are good in situations where you think there is sound happening, but you can’t hear it well for whatever reason. For example, I once went out to record at a wind farm. The wind was so strong that very little else could be heard. I tried using an ordinary mic, but it was just picking up wind noise and a faint swish from the turbine blades. However, when I put my ear to the side of a turbine, I could hear all kinds of other sounds going on inside. I attached contact mics to the side of the turbine and was able to make a much more interesting recording.” *
It is arguably a means that prompts experimentation – results can be surprising and unpredictable. Previously I have used them to listen to the sounds of limpets feeding, ice blocks melting and grasses rustling. During a workshop this Saturday afternoon at Dukes Wood (the closing weekend for the project), participants will have an opportunity to make and use a very simple contact microphone. Using the walk as a line of enquiry we will go hunting for sounds in a wander through and around the woods with Alison Lloyd.
Microphone making starts at 2pm on Saturday September 28th. The walk will depart from outside the Duke’s Wood Oil Museum at around 4pm and will return around 5.30- 6pm, whatever the weather! Please bring sensible footwear, warm clothes, snacks and drinks. (Hot drinks available from the Museum upon return). Please note the walk is open to non-workshop participants.
To book a place and for further information: see https://microphonemaking.eventbrite.co.uk/
By Louise K. Wilson