Monday, February 13, 2012

The Gentle Sound of Diesel Engines

I was shocked to realise I haven't made any field recordings since late November. But given that December and January are the coldest, meanest months of the year in this part of the world, it stands to reason that I'd want to shut myself away in the studio and not think about the outside world until said months have shoved off. As today was 8 degrees C, and promised a wealth of dripping sounds, I took my recorder with me on my walk.

I captured the sound of vehicles thundering across Johnston Bridge, which has a steel grid deck, and managed to capture the sound of the river lapping at ice on the pylon during a lull in traffic. I also captured a trio of idling diesel locomotives in the train yard. I'd heard them during the darker months and regretted not having a recording device at hand. I chanced to have the path to myself for ten minutes, with very little breeze or traffic, so the recordings turned out great. I've uploaded two of them to my account on, free to listen to or use however you wish.

Standing there recording locomotives through the chain-link fence, I got to pondering. Surely it must cost a lot in fuel to have these massive engines idling all day long (and possibly all night), not to mention the carbon emissions and noise pollution. They sit there chugging and hissing every day, and I haven't seen them moving for a while. Perhaps some learned reader can enlighten me as to why they aren't just fired up when needed rather than left running all hours of the workday.

In other news, I've mixed and mastered all the cues and sound effects for my soundtrack project. I'll be listening to them throughout the week for any last-minute changes and then they're done. What began as a side project turned into an all-consuming job. I'm immensely proud of the (almost) finished product, though. I challenged myself, achieved what I set out to do artistically, and the producer of the audio drama is delighted with my work. An extensive series of 'making of' essays will ensue once the show is released. The soundtrack itself will also be freely available, and interviews with cast and crew are also planned.