In Search of Silence

In Search of Silence
On my most recent recording trip in January, I set a challenge for myself to find the most emotive and interesting "silence" I could record. I was searching for these recording conditions: 
  1. Winter with zero wildlife
  2. Barely audible or zero wind
  3. Barely audible or zero foliage
  4. Resonant mountain valleys
  5. Zero noise pollution

It's winter in the desert: a chilly 25 degrees, a hidden mountain valley, and barely audible wind whisping over a distant ridge top. Visualize that space and take a journey with me to the lovely desert of West Texas. You'll hear a lush wintertime silence that is one of my favorite sounds.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Noise pollution tends to travel exceptionally long distances in the low wind conditions. I knew this already, but I though the limit was 10-20 miles. For instance, the air was so still, I was able to record a freight train sound from 25 miles away. 
  2. Finding the recording conditions listed above was much harder than I had anticipated. Although it is easy to find conditions with no wind or medium to heavy wind, I'd never searched for barely audible wind. It is a rare and difficult thing to record.
  3. I found that in zero wind conditions the spaces sounded “the same” in all of my preliminary recordings. I came to the obvious conclusion that I was only capturing the self-noise of the microphones. This was not ideal for a nature roomtone. Eventually, I discovered that I could not capture the sense of the space unless I had at least a tiny bit of air movement to resonant the environment. I also have a theory that distant water would also work, but I didn’t test that theory for this library (desert = no water). Once I found the perfect, barely audible wind conditions, I was able to capture to lovely resonance of the mountain valleys of the Davis Mountains in West Texas. Although it took many more hours than anticipated to capture the perfect natural roomtones, it was totally worth it in the end to capture these endlessly soothing ambiences.

SURPRISES: 

  • Note: these three wildlife recordings are NOT included in the AMB22 library.
  • Good news! While working on this library, I got lucky and captured a bunch of coyotes. These coyote sounds are completely isolated from other wildlife and insects! These recordings will be released as an update to High Desert Ambiences 4: Coyotes in a few weeks. Here's a short clip for now:

  • I captured amazing javelina (small pigs) sounds. One night, I left my microphones out unattended and a small herd of these energetic wild pigs got incredibly close to the mics! I love their snorts and teeth clicks.

 

  • I have no idea WTF this thing is...but it sounds insanely eerie. If you know what wild animal is making this crazy sound, please let me know :)

What's the difference between "nature roomtones" and "quiet nature" sound libraries? 

  • Nature RoomtonesThese are natural soundscapes with zero fauna, sparse flora, and sparse water. These recordings are location nonspecific because there is zero wildlife. As a result, these sounds can be used as a foundation for any natural environment you create.
  • Quiet NatureThese are natural soundscapes with sparse fauna, sparse flora, and sparse water. These recordings are geographically linked to a place because of the wildlife present in the recordings