November 30th, 2012

On 28th November 2012 I took out with me a large and a small set of cheap bamboo chimes and two sets of Music of the Spheres Gypsy (quality, metal) wind chimes - the Soprano and Mezzo sizes, the sounds of which latter two mesh together beautifully. My intention was to hang the chimes on the same tree that I had used for my recordings a week earlier, at Sharp Tor, by the Hunter's Path, high up on the north side of the over-steepened part of the River Teign valley known as the Teign Gorge, Devon, UK. In the event the wind, being from a north-easterly direction this time, was not sufficiently reaching anywhere along there, and I finally reluctantly went higher up on the slope, almost to the top, where a chilly breeze was coming over and moving the tree branches a bit. I hung the chimes on one tree and made one recording, but after nearly 10 minutes of rather modest activity the wind got up more and then appeared to be too continuously on the strong side, so I then moved to a nearby tree that was not catching the wind so strongly, to make the further recordings, including this one.

Being this high up was not ideal, for the sound of the River Teign in the valley bottom, although still audible, is heard only indirectly and faintly, so, when listening to the recording, it is difficult to tell what is the nature of the very faint continuous roar in the background. Also, here I was very close to the grazed pasture that covers the broad top of the hill, and a result of this is that all this day's recordings are punctuated by faint moos from distant cattle that were far away and out of sight.

This recording is of the two sets of bamboo chimes, which I had purchased locally in Exeter for just a few pounds each, plus the Music of the Spheres Gypsy Chimes, Mezzo size. The refined ethereal, 'liquid' tone and precise tuning of these metal Music of the Spheres chimes, together with the rather ponderous sounding of this size of chime, contrast beautifully with the often frenetic dry, earthy rattlings, clatterings and 'donkings' of the bamboo chimes. Indeed, these Gypsy chimes, with their particular timbre and tuning to some sort of Eastern European scale, sound at a distance like some ghostly organ playing. People who passed by while I was making recordings with these chimes tended spontaneously to use the words 'haunting' and 'magical'.

This is a 5-minute excerpt from the 27+ minutes full recording. It includes a moment of some sort of nature drama. During a period of little wind and therefore quiet and hesitant mysterious soundings from the chimes, there is a sudden 'startle' call from a blackbird, followed by some sort of scuffle among the dead leaves close by - and then suddenly the scuffle erupts and up fly two male blackbirds, with another 'startle' call. One perches in the tree, very close, while the other perches a little way away, and then for about a minute they are both giving their sharp staccato "Take - Take - Take...!" warning calls, until the next main gust of wind comes along and shifts the focus to the chimes again. I make a speculative guess that the two blackbirds may have been 'mobbing' a predator that had caught a bird - I have seen such behaviour on the green outside my flat in Exeter. On the other hand it may have been just a territorial dispute (i.e. brawl) between two competing males.

This photo shows my recording studio for 28th November 2012 - almost at the top of the north side of the Teign Gorge, and facing obliquely away from it. The sets of chimes visible are the large and small bamboo, with the Gypsy Mezzo in the middle.
Note that actually this was a first time learning experience for me with the Gypsy chimes, and actually for best effects the Gypsy chimes needed to be about twice the distance from the recorder than I actually used on this particular day, on account of their having a stronger and more penetrating tone than my other chimes.

Recording made with a Sony PCM-M10 on a Hama mini-tripod, using the built-in microphones covered with a Rycote Mini Windjammer. I have used a graphic EQ profile in WavePad to compensate for the slight muffling of the sound caused by the Windjammer.
I caution that the wind noise in the microphones is bound to sound too intrusive when this recording is played back through speakers / headphones that are prone to boominess; good quality hi-fi speakers with extended and flat bass response are really needed for any of these recordings really to sound right. Please also note that the volume level of this recording has been carefully adjusted for listening purposes, and ALL my recordings so far are meant to be listened to with a volume setting that would give a realistic level for playback of CLASSICAL music (a large but not exceptional symphony orchestra). If you have the right volume setting, you should not need to change that setting from one recording of mine to another.

N.B. Initially I gave all this day's recordings a 3dB cut of the lower bass to somewhat lighten the sound of the wind in the microphones, and so all the excerpts here from this day's recording have that bass reduction. However, subsequently, on careful listening, especially through my decent hi-fi speakers, I came to the conclusion that the wind noise in the microphones did not reach a level at which such processing was really necessary, and so I have subsequently restored those bass frequencies to the full recordings, with a distinct improvement in the sound as heard through my hi-fi speakers.

(Later note: This recording - with better sound than here - is on one of my commercial CDs, and can be found in my e-Store.)

**Please remember to give this recording a rating! http://www.broad-horizon-nature.co.uk/me-icon_wink.gif **


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