Lecture 02 – source and capture

Summary of what we did

In this session we revised the key modes of listening put forwards in the first lecture; Reduced Listening, Causal Listening, Semantic Listening and Referential Listening.

We listened to the 1996 radio play of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.¬†Part of the class listened as reduced listeners, and the other part of the class for the things and messages¬†encoded into the track. We summarised that listening in a Reduced manner enabled a way to think about any sound in compositional and structural terms. Listening for the things we can hear in the track gives a good idea of the range of resources the sonic artist needs to command. Listening to the messages encoded within the story telling are very much part of the design agenda.

Following this review of listening, Roderick began discussing the essential aspects of source & capture. Importantly, he mentioned key aspects that have an influence on the recordings you make before you use any equipment at all. SDM Week 02 – Source & Capture

At the end of the session we discussed the work uploaded to our shared folder. You can download one another’s sound files and listen to these here.


Try to apply a criteria to your evaluation of these sounds. The following might be useful ways of describing your impression of them:

  • Noisiness – presence of sound of equipment and of the space vs. the essential sound itself
  • Spatial imaging – if stereo, or could sound be improved if recorded in stereo to capture its spatial qualities
  • Frequency content – how well/comfortably integrated is the spectral content, do layers stick out, interact or envelop one another?
  • General fidelity – how accruately does the sound represent what it’s trying to represent?
  • Interestingness of the sound itself – does it excite the ear and imagination?
  • Quality and precision of Editing – time to start thinking about editing and making the tightest and tidiest edits you can.

Also in the group folder is the REAPER session I setup and the custom shortcuts I used for quickly highlighting each sound file and quickly playing it. To make all of these functions work, you’ll need to download the extremely good SWS Reaper extensions from here: www.sws-extension.org/.

Open the actions menu and IMPORT the file called reaperSessionandShortCuts.

Note, you don’t have to use REAPER for your work and can use any of the house DAWS or your own DAW for this work.¬† I tend to show REAPER because it’s the best, most flexible DAW and most affordable DAW in my experience. Rigorous analysis of different DAWs is explained here: www.admiralbumblebee.com/DAW-Chart.html if you’re still making your mind up about which DAW to invest energy into learning… it’s a fun page for the geeks among us anyway.