Italian stove top coffee pot – 08 December

This is another recording which was taken out of my archives to be utilised for the Sonic Wallpapers project. One of the wallpapers in the MoDA Wallpaper collection – BADDA 4774 – just screamed ‘hectic culinary din’ to everyone who saw it.

BADDA 4774, image © MoDA and used with their kind permission

In line with people’s reflections on this design, I decided to utilise sounds for this paper which suggested a sort of manic kitchen/cafe situation. The eventual mix features lots of sudden cuts in the sounds rather than gentle transitions, and the sources – cafes; shops; foodstuffs frying; cutlery drawers and tills banging; – are all meant to convey a sense of time-sensitivity, pressure and vim.

This wallpaper and people’s responses to it seemed to have something to do with the combined exuberance, jollity and stress of cooking, and I wanted sounds which emphasised this idea; the crucial timings of frying an egg; the moment when onions might burn at the edges rather than caramelising perfectly; the second when coffee bubbles into readiness; the moment of a sale; the hubbub of an eaterie where everyone is in a hurry and precision is key to happy customers; and the brusque human movements that ensure everything happens precisely… punching the till; slamming the cutlery drawer; banging a plate down.

The coffee pot sound is actually one of the more leisurely sounds that I included in the final mix for BADDA 4774 and this is one of my absolute favourite domestic sounds.

As the heat excites the water inside the pot and forces it up through the coffee, it unfurls a lovely, long, sonorous burble. I recorded this a few years ago in my bedsit on the Wokingham Road, which had a cooker with 2 electric rings on the top, for my Sonic Tuck Shop project.

The photo at the top of this post was taken at Brenda’s house. Coffee is exactly one of those things which is exciting and stressy at once, and joyous, since it is so often shared with someone else…

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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