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  • Writer's pictureBrett Ainslie

Went on Vacation and Forgot a Camera; No Problem! Soundscape Album

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

I just got back from traveling Texas where I certainly took a bunch of touristy photos, but I also had an idea apart from taking photos as a tourist. I figured, as a sound engineer, we say information is in the image but emotion is in the sound and when everyone only takes photos on vacation, we see where they are but we don't feel where they are.

So, packing lightly, I decided to leave my camera behind and take a small Zoom recorder instead with me to record ambiences and sound effects while on my trip throughout Texas. I wanted to record specific sounds but on top of that I wanted to record ambiences that I felt represented the cities I visited at least as well as a good photo would. I could have gone about this very differently and next time I will, so due to some imperfect recording techniques, I am editing and combining some of my sound recordings to create the best soundscapes I can with what I have and this takes a bit of time. So for now, I am only posting one city and will continue to edit this post with the other cities I visited. I was going to have one soundscape for each city but since they all sound so differently at night than they do during the day I had to do 2 soundscapes per city. Without further ado, below, are my soundscapes for San Antonio, Texas during the day and the other during the night:

Both of these ambiences happened by chance; I did not hit record because I heard church bells, nor did I hit record because I heard a mariachi band. I got out my recorder during the day and hit record because I thought the sound of the cicadas were representative of San Antonio during the day; literally about 3 seconds later, the Church Bells started going off. It was 4pm on the dot and I was standing right next to Mission San Jose, probably the most popular missionary in San Antonio which is built around it's missionaries. The State of Texas was built around its Spanish Missionaries to help localize the native Americans. I won't go too much into the history here, but the Church Bells were a perfect coincidence.

At night, another beautiful coincide happened when I hit record. I heard a guitarist start strumming his guitar across the street, accompanied by several of his buddies. I thought "this is SO Texa," so I got my recorder out of my bag quickly and started recording; a moment later, a Mariachi band started to play across the avenue by the bridge. So I quickly walked over there to focus on them. Unfortunately, my Zoom recorder picked up much wind, so I cut as much of that as I could on my computer and replaced the low frequencies with another calmer recording I had earlier that evening of ducks quacking close by on the small man-made river that makes downtown San Antonio such as nice place for tourists.

Part 2

I also had to check out Austin, Texas. Spent 3 days there and did everything on my list, so it was difficult to include everything in my soundscapes. Austin is probably most known for 3 things: Football, Barbecue and nightlife. I did not really include any of these in my soundscapes because there was no football game when I was there, the nightlife was honestly not impressive, and the barbecue, which I may add later, was Oktoberfest themed (So German, not Texan). However, Austin's country lifestyle is very apparent even in downtown Austin and mostly just minutes away. It was such a nice suburban city with plenty of hiking trails and natural lakes. So I took a step outside and recorded the below ambiences. Plus the famous 2 million bats underneath the bridge while kayaking the Colorado River.

In the next week or two, I will add, here in this post, soundscapes for Dallas, Fort Worth, and possibly a few cities in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. So stay tuned!


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