Followers of the dedicated efforts of the usoproject.com website are familiar with the work its cofounders, Matteo Milani and Federico Placidi, put into collating news and observations about sound design and sound art. The names Ben Burtt and Walter Murch will be familiar, as regular subjects covered on the site. What’s great about Milani and Placidi’s latest project is to have those same reference points inform not a blog post but a work of sounds. The sounds would be InharmoniCity, an hour-long exploration of urban noise that employs techniques associated with Burtt and Murch, among others. The expansive effort is an immersive trip through various settings, most dank and remote. This is an excerpt of the duo’s explanation of the material, when it was presented recently as part of the great Radius broadcast/podcast:
InharmoniCity realizes an urban symphony by using sounds normally hidden from our perception and revealed through unusual transducers. …More on the work at theradius.us/episode26. Note that Radius now has a proper URL.
The sonic materials are then played and re-recorded in real environments, not generated through digital reverb devices. This technique, often used by sound designers such as Ben Burtt and Walter Murch, is called “worldizing.” It consists of playing through a speaker the sounds created, and re-recording it with one or more microphones in different locations (garages, churches or other spaces which have interesting aural characteristics). This way, it is possible to realize several effects, i.e. the classic Doppler, by quickly moving the microphone in front of the speaker in order to vary the frequency of the sound wave (to observe this phenomenon directly, simply listen to the different sound frequencies of a siren when it gets close and then far away).