Thursday, 15 May 2008

extended field recording...

The phrase 'extended technique' has so far been mainly used when referring to unconventional or unorthodox methods of playing musical instruments & has been a prominent aspect of musical creativity since the early 1900's. Of course many unconventional techniques had already been invented prior to this date - various methods of bowing stringed instruments, breathing techniques for winds etc. The entire history of music is one of perpetual invention anyway.

However, it has become useful at times to adopt the term 'extended technique' as a bridge between experimentation and the method in question becoming more established and therefore adding to the store house of knowledge and experience.

I started occasionally using this term a couple of years ago to describe my approach to field recording & as with most descriptive word choices it came down not mainly to something I felt was important for me to state in every circumstance but rather that there were situations where using the term could lead to a more open and flexible view being taken of what my work involves (in performance, installation, written proposals or applications for example). Furthermore it can be a useful way to actually re-discover the more conventional aspects of field recording, by looking a new at ones own methods and then finding a natural method slowly returning.

FIELD RECORDING (fr) can be traced back to as far as the late 1800's and for most of the time from then until the 1950's it's prime purpose was to capture elements of oral history, folk traditions and latterly as a means of recording natural sounds.

However many recordists have now moved into new areas - using the full creative range of the basic equipment to explore previously overlooked sounds or to form artistic impressions of environments they encounter.

Many of the methods that could arguably be termed extended field recording techniques have actually been in use for many years now, but the use of such an artistic term has often been at odds with the technical, scientific terminology used by the majority of people involved in fr. For example the use of contact microphones to capture vibrations, forcing the equipment beyond it's intended use (feedback), internal methods of sound capture etc etc.

There is also the use of fr in terms of music to be considered. There are now many examples of thier use in composition, improvisation, sound art, live performance, installation etc etc. This too can be seen as extended technique in relation to the original intention of fr technology.

It is this ever expanding sense of exploration, discovery and a deeper, more personal way to capture the natural sounds that exist that adds to my interest in fr as an art form - it is a source of occasional revelation side by side with the constant need for ones own development to take a natural and uncontrived path.

No comments: