Amazing Ipsden bird – 07 December

Although most of the recordings used in Sonic Wallpapers were specifically created for this project, some were sourced from within my extensive archives of recorded sounds. Today’s Sonic Wallpaper sound is just such a sound; it was recorded in Ipsden, Oxfordshire at dawn in 2010 somewhere near here.

This sound relates to BADDA 4855 in the MoDA Wallpaper collection, which provoked a few people to discuss the bird motif in its design.

BADDA 4855, image © MoDA and used with their kind permission

Several people whom I interviewed for Sonic Wallpapers enjoyed the feature of the bird in this otherwise floral wallpaper, while others were irritated by the obvious way its form was repeated across the design. This idea of repetition reminded me of some of my most exciting listening experiences; of hearing birds repeating their songs in the tops of trees in the very early morning, and I trawled through my recordings looking for what I remembered having heard.

I remembered standing under a tree in the pink morning light and listening very intently to this sound, which was emanating from a bush beside me on a track that leads through the fields to Ipsden. Because it was summer, you can hear still-young lambs and their mothers baa-ing in the field. And of course you can hear the bird.

‘Amazing Ipsden bird’ was recorded during one of a series of night-time walks I took along the A4074, as part of my research for this radio show (produced for BBC Oxford). During these night-time walks, I recorded and heard many kinds of birds, some of which I recognised and some of which I did not. I do not know what bird made the sound shared here, but its call was distinctive, melodic and repetitive. Listening through to people’s comments about BADDA 4855, I realised that this bird song might provide exactly the sort of sound required to mimic or illustrate the repeated bird motif in the wallpaper design, and I played around with repeating the sound throughout the mix in an obviously artificial way to represent how it appears in the visual wallpaper design.

This is the raw, unedited version of the sound used in the Sonic Wallpaper piece, BADDA 4855; you can hear how I fit it in with the other sounds, and with people’s comments, below:

I have one copy of the Sonic Wallpapers book to give to someone who would like to have a domestic listening experience for themselves! The book has all 18 wallpaper designs from the MoDA collection used in this project, and a CD in the back which contains all the sound pieces. There are introductions both by myself and Zoe Hendon who is the curator of MoDA, and notes on what people said, and what sounds were recorded, for each wallpaper included in the project.

Sonic Wallpapers book

Sonic Wallpapers CD

To win a copy of the book, you just need to leave a comment on this post: -> about a wallpaper that you remember from your life, and one sound you recall from the room where that wallpaper was. If you cannot think of a wallpaper design and a sound, you could also leave one thought/response you have to this project. On 24th December, I will draw a number at random and post out a copy of the book to the winner!

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