Article Culture Feature

Field Recordings: a Beginners Guide

This article is hopefully the first in a series on the subject of field recording. If your goal is relaxation, focus, or just an aesthetic appreciation of sonic texture, this article is an introduction to the best places on the internet to go to hear, and find out about field recording.

Phonography, otherwise known as field recording, is the recording of natural or man-made sounds in-situ and away from the recording studio. But does it produce art or music? In modern music, the line between music and sound has become blurred. Sound and noise play a part in electronic composition that is as important as tone and scale. Today to ask if something is music or noise seems like an out-of-date question.

Like photography is the capturing of light to produce an image, phonography is the capturing of sound to produce a recording. Unlike ‘art’ or ‘music’, which have normative aspects, the words ‘phonography’ and ‘photography’ are matter-of-fact descriptions of a technical act. A bad photo may or may not be art, but nobody says a bad photo is not a photo.

Radio Aporee

The Radio Aporee project is “a global soundmap dedicated to field recording, phonography and the art of listening”. Field recordings from all over the world are placed on a 3D Google map, along with information about the recordings and recordists. You can explore the world while exploring the variety of sonic textures and landscapes that field recording can offer. New updates are added by its active user base every day.

Field Recordings

This podcast delivers recordings from all over the world. New episodes come out irregularly but frequently.

Framework Radio

Perhaps the most well established in the world of field recording radio shows. Framework radio has been producing episodes since 2002 that go out on Resonance FM and twelve other stations around the world. One hour long episodes.

My Noise features hundreds of soundscape generators designed to help block out background noise for focus, meditation etc. Some of the generators are musical, others are composites from various different field recordings. This site shows what can be achieved with attention to detail, sound and frequency spread.

Infinite Mixtapes – Field Recordings

A recent newcomer on the scene. As part of NTS’s selection of robo-DJ’d radio stations you can now listen to a curated collection of longer soundscapes through their ‘infinite mixtapes’ channels.

British Library – Sounds

Among the largest collection of recorded sound in the world, much of the British Library’s sound archive can be found here online including many field recordings going back to the 1930’s.

Acoustic Nature

As well as being a source of nature sound libraries, is also a great source of technical how-to articles for those wanting to get started in making their own recordings. Excellent features on comparing recorders and even a guide on how to cheaply make your own binaural microphone are to be found on this site.

Free To Use Sounds

Free To Use Sounds have an excellent collection of sounds that are free to use on their Bandcamp site. They also have this rather excellent Youtube channel that provides much useful information for those wanting to get started in the world of field and foley sound recording.