Archive for the ‘ Field Recordings ’ Category

The Birds Outside Casula Train Station

The Birds Outside Casula Train Station
1 min 35 sec / 2.18 MB / 192 kbps MP3

I went to Casula train station for the first time yesterday. I went out that way to go to Casula Powerhouse for an Acehnese dancing workshop which was part of No Added Sugar exhibition of Australian Muslim women artists.

I arrived at the train station a little bit late, but there was this sound I needed to record. I couldn’t work it out at first. I thought it was coming from the train. Maybe the sound of the wheels on the tracks or a sound made by the electrical wires. But when the train left the sound was still there. I came assumed that I was surrounded by many birds that I couldn’t see, but I could hear them. Surrounded birds sitting in different directions and distances away from my ears, all making the same sound. There was some amazing delay plus reverb surround sound thing going on.

And, sorry about the extra sounds made by things touching the recorder while trying to make the recording. Also, I have no idea what kind of birds these are.

Yayli Tanbur in Central Tunnel

Yayli Tanbur in Central Tunnel
3 min 49 sec / 5.24 MB / 192 kbps MP3

Last night I was on my usual Friday night walk from Sydney Uni to Central when I started to hear the sound of a bowed instrument reverberating through Central tunnel. I thought it must have been the old Chinese man who sometimes sits at Town Hall playing erhu, or the guy who busks in Newtown with something that might be a morin khuur. As I got closer I saw that it was neither of them. A man was sitting, playing an instrument that I’d never seen before.

I walked past him. At the entrance to the station I checked my train time and found out I had a twelve minute wait for the next all stops to Campbelltown. So I decided I’d waste the time by retracing my steps and find out what the instrument was. Fortunately, the man had stopped playing to re-tune whatever the long-necked thing sitting on his lap was, so starting a conversation was relatively simple.

He told me that he was playing a Turkish instrument called a Yayli Tanbur. I’d never heard of it, and I pretended that I’d remember the name. He introduced himself as Zane Lazos and told me he’s from America but is currently travelling down the east coast of Australia – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Armidale. Armidale seemed an odd choice amongst the obvious east coast destinations but I soon found out that there’s a man named Peter Biffin who builds and invents instruments similar to the yayli tanbur – and he lives in Armidale.

I asked if I could record him playing a piece and he gave his permission. Here is a short recording of him playing, complete with a backing track of footsteps, winter coughs, a lot of chatter and some “overhead train track sub-bass”. If you want to hear what Zane does with his yayli tanbur, without the ambience of Central tunnel on a Friday night, there’s a few recordings that you can check out on his website.

Busker playing Angklung on Jalan Malioboro

Angklung Busker on Jalan Malioboro
2 min 51 sec / 3.91 MB / 192kbps MP3

Walking through Jalan Malioboro, the main street of Yogyakarta, I could hear angklung. It was there, I was sure of it. But when I looked around to find the source of the angklung I couldn’t find it. I asked my friend if she heard it too and she said it was just in one of the songs playing through the speakers of a shop we were walking past. But the shop was too my left and I was certain the angklung was coming from my right.

An hour or two later, I walked down the street again and hear the angklung again. Hidden from view, I found a man squatting behind a hedge, with an angklung set in front of him. I sat down to listen for a few minutes and then left a couple of thousand rupiah as I walked away.

Jamming with karinding(s)

Photo from

Karinding Jam at Taman Budaya Jawa Barat, 11/2/2012
1 min 46 sec / 2.42 MB / 192kbps MP3

I was at a wayang golek performance of a story from the Ramayana epic at Taman Budaya Jawa Barat that never finished because of the rain. Stuck inside because of the heavy rain, I had a look around the souvenir “shop” and found these little wooden things which I found out are a Sundanese musical instrument called karinding.

A karinding is a type of jaw harp made out of bamboo. It’s similar to a traditional Hmong instrument used in Vietnam called Đàn môi and many other jaw harps found all over the world. However, I’m not sure how many other jaw harps there are in the world that are made from bamboo or any other wood.

So anyway, while we were all hanging around, trying to keep dry from the rain that just kept on falling, some of the guys who were hanging around had a jam using karinding to demonstrate how it’s played and what it sounds like. I can’t remember how many people were playing, I think at least four.

Also, if you want to hear a better recording of people doing really awesome stuff with karinding you should check out Karinding Attack.

Seruling at A Famosa

Seruling at A Famosa
1 min 15 sec / 1.73 MB / 192 kbps

During a day trip to Melaka, I visited A Famosa, the ruins of a Portuguese fortress built in the early 1500s after Portuguese imperialists defeated the Melaka Sultanate. After entering through the Porta de Santiago entrance gate, I walked up the hill toward the ruins of St Paul’s Church. As I climbed the hill I could hear music being played but couldn’t work out where it was coming from.

When I entered the church ruins I found a man standing in the corner playing a flute-like instrument. The reverb provided by the ruins was really nice and I made a quick recording. After the man stopped playing I asked the man what the instrument was. He called it a seruling and told me that he made it himself. He explained that a seruling is usually made with only five holes (for five notes), but he added two extra holes so he could play seven notes. He also said he could make one for me (for RM 70, if I remember correctly) but I didn’t take him up on the offer.