New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Touch-ing Lough Neagh (MP3)

Perhaps it’s a conscious effort in distributing music via social networks and alternate channels, but the pattern of late for the Touch Music podcast has involved the descriptive text (along with the podcast itself) appearing in its RSS feed well in advance of the material popping up on its website. This time around, the material also surfaced on Twitter, at, with no sign at, at least not yet.

The file in question, the 53rd in the podcast series, is the work of Dr. Tom Lawrence, who documented sounds at Lough Neagh, which is described as “the largest water-mass in the British Isles” (MP3). Lawrence uses hydrophones and contact microphones, along with other equipment, to capture the audio around, above, and deep within the lough.

[audio:|titles=”Lough Neagh”|artists=Tom Lawrence]

The descriptive text runs as follows:

During 2008/9 while working as a sound recordist for BBC Radio 4 Natural History Unit, sound recordist and composer Dr. Tom Lawrence spent six months recording and documenting the sounds above and below the waves of Lough Neagh, the largest water-mass in the British Isles. This programme is a compelling audio-log of those recordings, featuring breath-taking underwater sounds of beetles, frogs, eels, fish and other life. The programme also presents sounds above the water including migratory birds, industry and evocative soundscapes of forestry and the elements. Recorded and produced by Tom Lawrence Equipment: SQN Mixer, DPA Hydrophone, DPA omni-directional mics, SD702 recorder, Sennheiser M-S rig, Neuman 82, contact mics (piezos).

You’d never know from the audio that Lawrence recorded that the area is, as he puts it, “incredibly industrial.” Alternating with the audio itself, he describes the effort required to gain “a few hours every week” when the mechanical presence was subdued enough for him to capture the non-man-made environment. Neither his description of the environs nor of his effort itself are evident in the pristine wonder of what he has recorded — all bird calls and the quiet motion of water, a postcard augmented by his equally placid narrative. It all just goes to show that audio recording is no more or less real, or true, or free of bias or of authorial intent than are photographic images — Lawrence excels at what he does because he managed to record what he sought out to record, to select and to frame.

More on Lough Neagh at, from which the above map is borrowed.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 2 ]


  1. wwc
    [ Posted June 30, 2010, at 7:51 am ]

    I like your point – that phonography can “lie” just like photography. I think it’s also great that Lawrence sought to sort of transform Lough Nergh by highly editing when he recorded. It might be an industrial wasteland but to all of us who will only listen and probably never visit, it’s not that at all. It’s a fiction that becomes real. ART!

  2. Marc Weidenbaum
    [ Posted July 4, 2010, at 8:46 am ]

    Yeah, and to be clear to anyone reading anything into the word “lie,” that’s not a negative-intentional lie, but just inherent fiction of any creative act that involves framing. And framing can have just as much to do with causality as with elements left out — been reading about impressionist painters, and the expansion of landscape painting was in part enabled by trains and other modes of modern transportation. In other words, the deep expression of nature was founded on a technological innovation that was, in the artistic process, left out of the final product.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Subscribe without commenting

  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe

  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly ( at Gray Area (
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.

    Recent Projects

  • 0544 / Feedback Loop / The Assignment: Share music-in-progress for input from others.
    0543 / Technique Check / The Assignment: Share a tip from your method toolbox.
    0542 / 2600 Club / The Assignment: Make some phreaking music.
    0541 / 10BPM Techno / The Assignment: Make some snail-paced beats.
    0540 / 5ive 4our / The Assignment: Take back 5/4 for Jedi time masters Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 544 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts