Mediterranean Recordings

dsc04574I just returned from a week on the beautiful Greek island of Corfu, a place totally alive with natural sound. Several nights, I found myself waking in small hours and being drawn outside to record the haunting sound of the cicadas and Scops Owl calls echoing across Kalami Bay. In hindsight, walking out of a hotel in the middle of the night in my pyjamas, clutching recording equipment seems a rather odd thing to do, but the magic of the Mediterranean night made it seem quite reasonable at the time.

Some sound proved more difficult to capture with the same quality as I heard it, the ever-present hum of pool pumps and air conditioning really came out in some recordings. In the shoreline recording below, I noticed a persistent bass hum around 30hz on playback. I can only think that this is a reflection of the boom from the Mediterranean sea echoing back off the surrounding hills around the bay , unless there’s a less-glamourous technical reason, of course.

Night – Kalami Bay 2.40am

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I’ve been thinking about the notion of presence in field recordings – I always find myself seeking a more or less human-free capture, which includes any sounds that I might make. At times, an almost impossible task. Though one could consider that, if an accurate representation of what is really in the environment is sought, then the recording should be made impartially, without selecting to edit out a part of the moment.

Maybe it’s attempting to artificially isolate an engaging element out of the background but I always have this thought when recording locations of whether I want to be present in the composition.

img_3397_2 I’m using the OKI Soundman binaural microphones to record these sounds, and as they are worn in-ear for recording, my own head and clothes are an influence on what ends up on the recording, which obviously makes the question of the recordists role quite personal.

Here then, are two more contrasting recordings from day and night.

Day – Olive Grove Crickets 10.40am

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Night – Cicadas/Scops Owl 2.00am

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Amended 29.01.10:

6 thoughts on “Mediterranean Recordings”

  1. I have been looking for sound receordings of Greek Cicadas. On Skiathos they have a very loud ratchet noise like someone rubbing a stick over a washboard or a notched bamboo tube. Do you have any ideas where I can obtain this??
    On your recording of the cicadas and Scops Owl at night I think that you will find that the majority of the noise is being made by tree frogs.

    Kind regards,
    Duncan Witt

  2. Sorry, I meant to say that your recordings are the clearest that I have heard and I love the one in the Olive grove.
    Duncan

  3. Hi Duncan,

    Thanks for your comments. When I recorded the owls at night, I have to admit that I had no idea what was making the other sound, it was pretty dark! If you wanted to get hold of an mp3 of any of these, I could post it in a downloadable form for you. Otherwise, you might try http://www.soundsnap.com, they have lots of very nicely recorded exteriors for download.

  4. Thanks very much for your reply. I have been travelling to Skiathos for 20 years now and this is the first year I have seen a cicada on a tree after listening to them for so many years. The night time noises are different and it took me a long time to realise that the low and high fluted noises are actually different types of frog.
    I would be grateful if you could send me the mp3 format of the cicadas and crickets.
    Kind regards,
    Duncan

  5. Dear Martin,

    I greatly enjoyed your recordings of the crickets and cicadas and i can
    feel the heat and smell the sage scrub. We spent alot of time in and around the greek islands in our youth and I have often thought about recording this marvelous sound. Soundscapes are so often overlooked – it’s a relief that some people out there are motivated to do the things i keep thinking about doing:)

    I am writing to you to ask if it would be possible to get a copy of these
    recordings .My brother suffers badly from tinnitus and i know that the sound of cicadas/crickets are a great source of relief for him – an escape from the constant ringing sounds.

    I hope you can oblige,

    kind regards

    nez

  6. Hi Nez,
    I’ve just added 3 files for download at the bottom of the post, so hopefully you should be able to grab these. They’re not as long as I had remembered, but a good reminder for me in future to just stay put and record!

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