DOCUMENTARY SOUND


This is a partial discography and guide to resources for documentary sound (son verite, field recordings, etc).  These are things like recordings of the sounds heard at specific locations (beaches and forests, junkyards, highways), of animals/insects, of certain processes, etc.  Descriptions of many recordings are quite limited but I've included everything available.

The criteria for inclusion:  (1) the sound must not be processed (except for minimal editing), (2) no added music (though limited spoken commentary is acceptable), (3) no sound intended to be recorded (for example, no spoken interviews though overheard speech might be acceptable; no music boxes; no sound effects), (4) the recording must have been made publicly available in some fashion.  At the moment there's no real organization; I haven't been able to think of anything suitable but am open to suggestions.  Of course info about any other documentary sound is quite welcome.  One mailorder source for some of these is Aquarius Records (http://www.aquariusrecordssf.com/) who even have a section in their catalog for field recordings and found sound.    Lang Thompson

updated 06-15-01
 

CD and other material coming at http://www.phonography.org/  There's currently some MP3s and info at http://radiantslab.com/musiek/phonography/

Janek Schaefer:  "Using a sound activated tape recorder which turns on and off I sent it overnight to an installation space for an exhibition with Art Angel and Brian Eno back in 95.  Over the 18hr journey it captured just over an hours sound. Everything from the van, the singing postmen, swearing postmen etc. This has since been released [edited to 12 min] as a red 7" on Hot Air Records."  And I think this has been included on the CD Medical Milestones, I'll confirm as soon as my copy arrives.

http://thing.at/earnet/soundcalendar/gal/index.html - 1998 recording of a Taiwanese open market in RealAudio

Open Pipe Symphony (JL Productions, USCD 666, 1997?)  -  Audiophile disc with recordings of Bugatti, Ferrari, Mercedes, Peugot, Porsche, Renault, etc.

Pachinko In Your Head (Celestial Harmonies 1998?) - recording of the Aladdin Pachinko Parlor in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Drone Hill 225 (Hot Air, AIRDALE 011, 1999?) - recordings of an electric fence during different weather conditions off a hill in England.

Sounds of Marine Boot Camp (Gold Star LP) - I saw this in a store.  It apparently has actual field recordings of various aspects of basic training but since they wanted $25 for it I probably won't find out anytime soon.  There's also The Training of a United States Marine - Parris Island (Documentary Recordings LP 1972) that might be the same record repackaged.

Clock Store - saw this listed by a seller who described it as both an LP and a 78 while saying the title might also be A Trip to the Clock Store.  Not very reliable but he did say it's clock sounds.

Relevant to documentary sound is this piece on nature sounds, recreating and tweaking them at http://www.kued.org/snowwolves/foleyart.htm

Sounds of the World, three volumes on Playasound CD:  it's unclear from the label's description exactly what these are but apparently at least parts are documentary

Blackfish Sound: Underwater Communication of Killer Whales (Vancouver Aquarium Research) - Yeah, there's tons of whale recordings but the title of this is intriguing for some reason

Anthology 1: Come Organisation Archives 1979-81 (Susan Lawly SLCD019) - includes "Bradford Red Light District," a field recording at the named place.  Described by the cool folk at Aquarius Records as "something conceptually very disturbing, but in actuality just sounding like a guy walking down a busy street with a tape deck in his pocket."

Moteurs de Legende (CPL, 1999; CD) - recordings of 19 motors including BMW Side Car 600 Kneeler, Ducati 350 Desmo and Honda 750 CB

Reference Library of Digitized Insect Sounds at http://cmave.usda.ufl.edu/~rmankin/soundlibrary.html

Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush (Nonesuch, 1973?; LP) - recordings made in Kenya

"LP of irregular dog heartbeats that I found in a flea market that was for training vets" - more info forthcoming

Insect Noise in Stored Foodstuffs (Inra, late 90s?; CD) - two French scientists present amplified insect sounds with way too much commentary (in both French and English).

Chris Watson Outside the Circle of Fire (Touch, 1998?; CD) & Stepping into the Dark (Touch, 1997?; CD) - fauna/nature recordings from an early member of Cabaret Voltaire; for extensive info go to http://www.touch.demon.co.uk/cwat.htm

Michael Rüsenberg & Hans Ulrich Werner Lisboa (Zwerg Productions, 1990s?; CD) - urban recordings made in Lisbon; possibly edited or processed; same duo also did La Palma (Zwerg Productions, 1990s?; CD) from a Spanish island

Voices of the Cloud Forest (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Library of Natural Sounds, 1990s?; CD) - one section of edited recordings and one section of commentary along with the sound

Jeph Jerman beach tree and birds...  (A Pyrrhic Victory, 1999?; CDR) - four tracks of field recordings possibly with some processing (the label description sidesteps the issue entirely)

Toshiya Tsunoda Extract from field recording archive #2, The air vibration inside a hollow (Häpna, 1999?; CD) - eight tracks recorded by placing microphones in rock cavities in Japan;  for a bit more info go to http://www.hapna.com/

Toshiya Tsunoda Extract from field recording archive #1 (Wrk, 1999?; CD) - eight tracks of work being done at harbor facilities

Sounds of the Earth: Deep Into the Earth  (Oreade Music, late 90s?; CD) -  recordings made in caves from a New Age label but unprocessed; more info on others in the series to follow.

Jonathon Storm Voice of the Sky: Thunder and Rain (EarthTunes, 1990s?; CD) - pieces relating to the title plus one unedited 23-minute recording of a thunderstorm

Eric Lanzillotta water tower (Anomalous, 1995?; 10-inch) - two fifteen-minute tracks recorded on a hilltop

Douglas Quin Antarctica (Miramar, 2000?; CD): selection of natural sounds from the Antarctica; another Aquarius Records discovery

Sounds of North American Frogs:  Classic Folkways release, now on CD from Smithsonian/Folkways.  Has some narration.

Also check out "Reviews of Frog Call Recordings" by Rob Arlen at http://coloherp.org/frogcalls.html.

The following are all Folkways releases.  If you can't find the original LPs second-hand, you can get custom-made CD-Rs and cassettes from the Smithsonian at http://web2.si.edu/folkways/.  I'd be interested in hearing from anybody who's heard these and know whether or not they might belong on this list (you probably could find many in public libraries before most of them dumped their LPs).  Releases: Voices of the Sky: Propellers and Jets (1957) C-1075; Sounds of the American Southwest (1954) F-6122; Sounds of Animals (1954) F-6124; Sounds of the Annual International Sports Car Grand Prix of Watkins Glen, N.Y. (1956) F-6140; The Birds' World of Song (1961) F-6115; The Lyrebird: A Documentary Study of Its Song (1966) F-6116; Cable Car Soundscapes (1982) F-6129; Here at the Water's Edge: A Voyage in Sound-NY Harbor Documentary (1962) F-6161; Sound Effects, Vol. 1: City Sounds recorded by Tony Schwartz (1958) F-6170; The Sounds of London (1961) F-5901 ; Documentary Sounds (1962) F-618 ; Speech after the Removal of the Larynx (1964) F-6134; Sounds of Insects (1960) F-6178; Ionosphere (High Altitude Sounds) (1955) C-501 ; Sounds of the Junk Yard (1964) F-6143; Sounds of Medicine (1955) F-6127; Sounds of the Office (1964) F-6142; Sounds and Ultra-Sounds of the Bottle-Nose Dolphin (1973) F-6132; Sounds of Sea Animals (1955) F-6125; Sounds of the Sea, Vol. 1 (1952) F-6121; The Voice of the Sea (1954) C-5011; Sounds of a South African Homestead (1956) F-6151; Voices of the Storm (1957-58) C-1077; The Sounds of Camp: A Documentary Study of a Children's Camp (1959) F-6105; Sounds of a Tropical Rain Forest in America (1952) F-6120; The Complete In Fidelytie: Sounds Natural and Un-Natural (1956) C-1044; Sound Patterns (Natural, Musical, Human) (1953) F-6130.

Folkways train records:  Railway recordings appear to be a broad and durable tradition to judge by the numerous examples I've often run across.  Here are Folkways contributions: Rail Dynamics: Steam Locomotives and Train Sounds, New York Central, Hudson River Lines (1950-54) C-1070; Sounds of Steam Locomotives, Vol. 1: Steel, Steam and Action (1956) F-6152; Sounds of Steam Locomotives, Vol. 2: Make Up of a Train (1957) F-6153; Sounds of Steam Locomotives, Vol. 3: Colorado Narrow Gauge (1958) F-6154; Sounds of Steam Locomotives, Vol. 4: The Great New York Central-Hudson, Mohawk, Niagara (1958) F-6155; Sounds of Steam Locomotives, Vol. 5: The Stack Music Spectacular (1976) F-6156.

From the whacky US Government:  "Listening to Earthquakes" at http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/more/listen/.

The Phonography mailing list is devoted to field recordings. http://www.egroups.com/group/phonography

Santa Pod (Ash International 2015; CD, 1998?) - recordings of drag races at the Santa Pod Raceway

The World Forum For Acoustic Ecology (http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/WFAEHomePage).

wildlife sounds at http://www.selu.com/bio/wildlife/sounds/

Nature Sounds Society (http://www.naturesounds.org/)

David Sun collections:  Usually filed as New Age but apparently things like beaches, storms, etc presented unaltered.

sonitus7@juno.com:  "I've a new lathe cut 8" which is all field recordings (car, storm) which are all unmanip sources no outside interference."

Dog Pound Found Sound (double CD, 1996):  Two discs of sound recorded in Manhattan's dog adoption ward on June 21, 1996.  Given away for free though copies are currently unavailable.  For more information and some sound samples go to http://brdm.org/.

Sounds of the American Fast Food Restaurants, Vol. 1 (Planet Pimp Records 18; seven-inch, 1997/8?); Sounds of the International Airport Restrooms (Planet Pimp 25; seven-inch, 1998):   Possibly also "Sounds of San Francisco Adult Bookstores."  May have narration.

Justin Bennett: The Mosques of Tangier and Citiscape on Staalplaat.

Syntonic Research Inc.:  Recordings of natural places, possibly for the New Age market.  Many (all?) were called Environments and were originally on LP but seems to have also appeared on CD.  Label's website is no longer active.  Some were quadrophonic (see http://home.earthlink.net/~larryclifton/dy4sale.html)

Cha-Bashira (http://home.att.ne.jp/green/Cha-Bashira/) has released Enoshima Hanabi ("field recordings of summer insects and fireworks at Enoshima" according to Illegal Art) and Awa-odori, also a field recording.

Toy Bizarre album on the Taalem label (KDI DCTB 93; CDR, 1998) includes 21 short field recordings, 200 copies limited.  Artist statement:  "These are rough recordings carried out in specific places with specific tools.  Perhaps this rough aspect will initially disturb the listener; however for me they are symptomatic in my way of working these times.  In addition, they represent for me a true music, and for this reason I find out of place to modify, distort or cut these sounds.  You just have to listen carefully!!!"

Bioacoustics Link Page (http://www.biologie.uni-halle.de/~bzopn/l_acoust.html)

Guide To Field Recording Equipment (http://birds.cornell.edu/LNS/Equipment/frequipmtmain.htm)

Guide To Field Recording (http://www.trubitt.com/field_1.html)

Still more insect sounds at http://users.sedona.net/~dougvg/insects.html

Indonesian Soundscapes (Soleilmoon 1587; CD, date unknown):  The following is from the label catalog:  "Indonesian Soundscapes is an audio journey composed from field recordings, but it's more than any mere academic presentation of sounds.  It's a ray of light shining through a keyhole, an unexpected flower-perfumed breeze in the middle of the night, a sudden shower of rain over a grove of bamboo.  Indonesian Soundscapes was recorded in Bali and Java by Loren Nerell ("Lilen Dewa", Side Effects DFX 23) and Dale Strumpell, between June 1992 and September 1997.  It was mixed and assembled by Loren Nerell in December 1997 at Earthbound. Loren Nerell writes: 'This recording came about as a byproduct to fieldwork I was conducting in Bali for my masters thesis in ethnomusicology. When I first arrived in Bali I came armed with a portable DAT recorder and microphones to record the music of my study (temple ceremonial music called lelambatan), but almost immediately I found myself attracted to other sounds, what one might call environment or "ambient" sounds, the sounds of everyday life.  I began to record these and other sounds that I found to be interesting, more for my own edification and enjoyment then for anything else.'  Indonesian Soundscapes is the result of these recordings."

Earth Ear (http://www.earthear.com/index.htm) distributes many recordings and has some collections of info; a bit New Age-y but worth checking out
 
 

Thanks to:

JC JC <james_39@hotmail.com>
Woody Sullender <rsullend@email.unc.edu>
Dale Lloyd <dkl37@juno.com>
Howard Stelzer <intransitive@email.msn.com>
Jeffrey Collins <collinsclan@sprintmail.com>
illegal art <illegalart@detritus.net>
Patrick McGinley <mcginley@talk21.com>
Marcos Fernandes <sounds@accretions.com>
Curtis Bahn <bahn@primenet.com>
Stefan Verstraeten  <stefan.verstraeten@wkb.be>
Ryan Whitehead  <ryan_whitehead@hotmail.com>
Matt Laferty <bg60009@binghamton.edu>


Return to Adventures In Sound home