This book is now for sale in the TouchShop, where you can find more information and track listing on the CD, including a track recorded by Chris Watson…
The Acoustic City consists of a series of cutting-edge essays on sound and the city accompanied by a specially commissioned CD with field recordings, compositions, and music. The book will comprise five thematic sections: sound mappings including cartographic and conceptual approaches to the representation and interpretation of soundscapes; sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound; acoustic flânerie and the recording of urban sounds (including bats, birds and urban nature) as well as reflections on the “auditory self” with links to cultural history and literary theory; acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design; and the politics of sound extending to human well-being, noise abatement, and the changing characteristics of ambient sound. This innovative essay collection will be of interest to a wide range of disciplines including architecture, cultural studies, geography, musicology and urban sociology.
Chris Watson is probably the world’s most famous field recordist. Without a doubt he has more recordings of animal sounds than we could listen to in a lifetime, However, we’re straying slightly off of animal recordings and into Watson’s collection of natural sounds – and how they ended up as one of the most unique and exciting sampled instruments: Geosonics by Soniccouture. Designing Sound chatted with Soniccouture’s James Thompson about the project.
CORNELIA PARKER, LEMN SISSAY, CHRIS WATSON – ANNOUNCED AS 2014 FELLOWS FOR FOUNDLING MUSEUM’S 10th ANNIVERSARY YEAR
The Foundling Museum has announced the appointment of the 2014 Foundling Fellows, joining the Fellowship in the 10th anniversary year of the Foundling Museum in London and also coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the death of William Hogarth, whose donation of paintings to the Hospital laid the foundations of the collection of the Museum.
One of Sir David’s first jobs in natural history filmmaking was as a wildlife sound recordist. Recorded in Qatar, Sir David is with Chris Watson (a current wildlife sound recordist), and is there to make a film about a group of birds he is passionate about, The Bird of Paradise. It is in Qatar where the world’s largest captive breeding population is and it is in this setting Chris takes Sir David back to the 1950s and his early recording escapades, right through to today where Sir David narrates a series of Tweet Of The Days on Radio 4 across the Christmas and New Year period.
Presenter/ Chris Watson, Producer/ Julian Hector for the BBC
Chris Watson, who has worked on Attenborough’s Frozen Planet and Life in the Undergrowth, shares a remarkable insight into sound recording, some exclusive clips – and his feelings about music in wildlife shows.
“…The most extraordinary sound of the week was actually something so common and heard almost every day even by those mired in the inner city. Chris Watson, the sound recordist who to great effect spends days and nights outdoors making wildlife programmes, took his recording equipment into Newcastle’s Central Station. One evening, at dusk, after all the commuters had gone home, he picked up a single melody, the song of a blackbird. As Watson explained, ‘The song rolled down on to the track and filled the southern entrance to the station,’ echoing through the vast Victorian amphitheatre. This is why we keep listening — odd moments of pure sound, instant connection.” [Kate Chisholm]
Chris Watson went from influential 1970s band Cabaret Voltaire to recording sound for David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries. Now the leading audio recordist has captured the sound of Sheffield for a “sound map” of his home city.
Chris Watson hears things that other people do not.
Well, we hear the same things. But Chris Watson listens…
Geosonics is a colloboration between legendary field recordist Chris Watson and Soniccouture.
Hundreds of hours of recordings, from some of the worlds most extreme and inhopsitable enviroments, combine to form a library of rare sonic artefacts that cannot be found anywhere else.
Using this unique collection as a starting point, we created a wealth of sound design material – waves and textures which, when layered and combined with Watson’s original recordings, create the most fluid, organic soundscapes ever heard.
On 6 May David Attenborough will launch Tweet Of The Day, Radio 4’s new year-long celebration of the wonder and poetry of birdsong. Just before the Today programme, early risers will be treated to a different call or song of a British species, followed by a fascinating story of ornithology specific to the tweet in question.
In Britain there are now 596 species on the official bird list, of which 286 are recorded as rare. The BBC will be collaborating with brilliant wildlife sound recordists such as Chris Watson, Geoff Sample and Gary Moore to track down the songs of some of these much-loved birds, from the nightingale to the swift, the greenfinch to the garden warbler. The series will begin with the cuckoo – the song of the male is familiar to many, but how many of us can say that we have seen the bird itself?
“Technically it’s so beautiful; it’s beautifully recorded. I think he does what an artist should do, which is take something every day and make you hear it or see it differently. I could listen to this anytime of day or night, I could listen to it heartbroken or grieving… so beautiful, so inspiring. It paints pictures in your head and yet it’s barely music. This record can make you see beauty in the everyday.”
“At 1800h local time I fixed a Sennheiser MKH 8040/30 middle and side rig against a sun bleached log by the edge of a small muddy pool. This was the only surface water I could find on the floor of a steep sided valley formed by the ephemeral river Kuiseb on the western fringe of the Namib desert in Namibia, southwest Africa.”
One moment we are listening to widgeon ducks whistling from the wetlands to our right. The next we are stopped in our tracks by a wren sounding the alarm at our approach. The sound recordist Chris Watson and I are a couple of miles north of the Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh, and already the quietness of our rural surroundings has revealed all sorts of sounds. “Silence is oppressive but quietness isn’t,” says Watson. “Silence doesn’t exist in the natural world.” Next Friday, Watson’sIn Britten’s Footsteps premieres as part of Aldeburgh Music’s year-long Britten Centenary celebrations. The piece is a season-by-season introduction to the habitats familiar to Benjamin Britten, reprising the sounds that surrounded him on his “composing walks”, and serving as an aural route-map today. [Andrew Clark]
“Le field recording, ou enregistrement de terrain, est une pratique apparue logiquement à la fin du xixe siècle avec l’invention de systèmes d’enregistrement, de plus en plus portables. Peu à peu, le studio perd de sa fatalité et l’homme peut partir par les chemins pour capter quantité de musiques et de sons. Les premiers à se lancer sont les ethnomusicologues et les audio-naturalistes. Les uns sont en quête des musiques de divers peuples de la terre, vivant souvent loin des grandes villes et de leurs facilités logistiques. Les autres souhaitent quant à eux conserver la trace des sons de la nature.”
“During December 2000 several significant storm fronts developed across the North Sea and Scandinavia. Benny remarked to me that he had recorded some of these on the Baltic coast and proposed a collaborative cd project based around our mutual interests in the rhythms and music created when the elements combine over land and out to sea.
We spent the next few years gathering recordings on our respective coastlines and islands during the very active weather windows during the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. This was focused around our following one particular cyclonic system, which veers over Snipe Point on Lindisfarne to the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth, and finally descends upon Öland and Gotland where Benny listened in with a favourite pair of Sennheiser omnidirectional microphones.” Newcastle upon Tyne August 2006
Chris Watson is one of the world's leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, and for Touch he edits his field recordings into a filmic narrative. For example. the unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is a classic example of, in Watson's words, putting a microphone where you can't put your ears. He was born in Sheffield where he attended Rowlinson School and Stannington College (now part of Sheffield College). In 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance recordist for film, tv & radio, Chris Watson specialises in natural history and documentary location sound together with track assembly and sound design in post production.
Here you can access images of Chris Watson. Click on images for high resolution version & please always credit author when used.
A Life in Sound
Here you can find a very helpful selection of radio progammes and soundscapes for BBC Radio 4 featuring sound recordist Chris Watson.
"Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history."
01: La Anunciante
02: Los Mochis
03: Sierra Tarahumara
04: El Divisadero
05: Crucero La Joya
08: Mexico D.F.
09: El Tajin; El dia y La noche
Artwork: Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham
You can listen to ‘Veracruz’ here:
CD - 3 Tracks - 54:02
The weather has created and shaped all our habitats. Clearly it also has a profound and dynamic effect upon our lives and that of other animals. The three locations featured here all have moods and characters which are made tangible by the elements, and these periodic events are represented within by a form of time compression.
1. Ol-Olool-O -18' 00"
A fourteen hour drama in Kenya's Masai Mara from 0500h - 1900h on Thursday 17th Oct. 2002
2. The Lapaich -18' 00"
The music of a Scottish highland glen through autumn and into winter during the four months of September to December
3. Vatnajokull -18' 00"
The 10,000 year climatic journey of ice formed deep within this Icelandic glacier and it's lingering flow into the Norwegian Sea.
Listen to an extract from ‘Vatnajokull’ here
Wildeye Field Recording Trips & Courses
Chris leads several trips a year in different parts of the world... these trips get fully booked very quickly, so we advise you to sign up to the Wildeye newsletter on their website
Publishing & Licensing
Chris Watson is a member of PRS and is published by Touch Music