sound ecoacoustics humanimality
... is the conduit for my field recording work - studies of wildlife and natural soundscapes.
In 1992 when I took my first committed steps down this path - shall we call it Field Recording? - if I had an aim in mind, it was to record the ‘Bird Communities of the Highlands’. During the 1980s I used to take my breaks from urban London life in the Scottish Highlands, either staying with my grandparents in the Cairngorms area, or exploring elsewhere; and it was here that my listening really opened up to encompass whole soundscapes: particularly those Highland acoustic arenas and their idiosyncratic, and sometimes iconic, wild creature sounds.
So it began with a sense of community, of soundscapes, auditory scenes rather than isolated individuals; and it included the noise textures, the reverberations and sussurations that map out the topography of space in our mind’s soundscape.
Within a few years I’d released a CD of my birdsong soundscapes, to reasonable acclaim, and was also including species specific recording as an theme in my fieldwork; and trying to map out the vocabularies of each bird species, grasshopper ID, parameters of mammal vocalisation, etc. And tuning the ears.
That side of things took over a bit with a string of commissions from HarperCollins to produce a series of audio guides. The Collins Field Guide to Bird Songs & Calls (1996) was an instant best-seller, much to my surprise. Leading on to further similar species ID work from other publishers, the British Trust for Ornithology, English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage, and expanding my horizons to a wider European context.
My archive contains recordings from throughout Britain and selected locations around the rest of Europe made between 1992 and the present. The recordings are exclusively direct to digital, almost all with Sennheiser MKH series mics. Those from 1992 to 2005 were made to DAT tape and are 48k 16bit; those after June 2005 were made to file based recorders (mostly Sound Devices SD722) and are all 24bit and a mix of 48k and 96k.
Basic details of the recording archive are contained in a set of databases.
Primary details are in a series of notebooks, one set covering field recording sessions, and one set compiled on listening through the tapes back at base (DAT recordings 1992-2005).
We began as Wild at Heart in 1993 with the publication of Birdsong in Britain on CD, the first CD of British bird recordings as listening aesthetic - not an identification guide. Launched at The BirdFair in 1993 with a minimum of fuss.
With the decline of CD sales, download albums offer a more feasible alternative to publishing more particular site-based material.
We are happy to offer sounds for use by others. Clients include: BBC TV and radio, RSPB, BTO, SNH, the Guardian, HarperCollins, New Holland, David & Charles, Northumberland National Park, ...