Portraits of Brazil
For me, after so many years recording soundscapes these are still a mystery.
My experience as a sound engineer until 2010 was limited to recording bird sounds. A one-way microphone like the Sennheiser ME67 and a Marantz PMD671 were my company in the field: Listen to the bird's song, locate it, point the microphone, press Rec, wait a couple of minutes, or whatever the bird wanted to sing, a short note from voice at the end of the recording and press the Stop key.
In 2010 or 2011, on one of the many nights I spend my time reading, I came across a recording technique to capture something called a soundscape.
A soundscape is nothing more than a set of sounds emitted by living beings (biophony), by the sounds of the elements (geophony) and by human beings (anthropophony). Going into details I understood that a recording of a soundscape is made special by the presence of biophony and geophony, avoiding anthropophony as much as possible.
The equation got complicated for each paragraph of my reading; it was necessary to use at least two microphones. In addition, to obtain a representative soundscape of the place, it was necessary to record at least thirty minutes without interruption. It was an immense challenge to understand the great number of possibilities that presented themselves. To capture a soundscape there are an infinity of techniques that, in principle, are used to record orchestras, plays and movies.
In the album Portraits of Brazil I use a microphone configuration known as SASS, from the English Stereo Ambient Sampling System, in Spanish Stereo Ambient Sampling System. This setup consists of two omnidirectional microphones at a diverging angle and an acoustic barrier between them. Yes, I know, it sounds weird. But when they listen to the album they will understand the magnitude of the sound recorded with this very special technique developed over 80 years ago.
The soundscape is increasingly difficult to be recorded in its ideal set, biophony plus geophony. The strong destruction of forests and jungles, added to the fact that in little more than five years there will be 8 billion human beings on the planet, the anthropophony factor, increasingly invades this delicate balance.
Although I have been recording soundscapes for 8 years, they never cease to amaze me; each sunrise, each sunset, or each night is like a blank sheet on which nature will write its music.