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Composing in code.

Out-Jazz Elk M4A by Diane Hope

The Who had a record that instructed listeners to play it loud. At the environmentally oriented, field-recording intensive podcast series touchradio.org.uk, the analogous instruction is a tidy Headphones recommended.

Entry 34 in the series, recorded by Diane Hope, is an M4A file (essentially an MP3 with images encoded) caught in the desolate Northern Arizona high country, where on the hunt for frog calls she came upon all manner of other beasts, including an elk whose call she likens as follows: “it’s as if an avant jazz musician is blowing overtones through his trumpet mouth piece.” She couldn’t be more right.

The two images above, shot where the sounds were recorded, are part of the downloadable file (M4A), which is marked by natural silence and a deep echo that Hope takes pains to confirm is not a studio manipulation: “This meadow is about a mile and a half long by three-quarters of a mile across and since the amount of reverberation depends on the size of a space, this along with the absolutely calm atmospheric conditions presumably account for the incredible echo.” More details on the recording at touchradio.org.uk. And more sound files, including the elusive frogs, at her home page, dianehope.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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