In February, I found myself working a week in Stuttgart. This came on the tail end of an intense period of work and travel — and it was, in fact, the last one since, as by that time Baden-Württemberg already registered cases of COVID-19 and the country would soon go into lockdown.
This was recorded early in the morning, as the sun rose over the Oberer Schloßgarten, between the Staatsoper and the Landtag. You hear one early-morning jogger and a smattering of distant chatter, but the soundscape is mostly dominated by the birds and other animals that nest and frolic around the Eckensee. The city had not yet awoken; this window records a slice of the gradual reintroduction of the human. And it is from this situation that the curious dramaturgy of the recording (which is unedited in its temporal unfolding) emerges: these two layers coexist not in the other’s negative space — nor is the human here drowning out the animal — but their utterances seem to cluster together in time.
This soundscape was recorded on a Zoom H2n with a Primo ECM172 omni microphone.
Luís’ recording is one that i find optimistic. Here in the UK, the lockdown is gradually being eased, little by little, and there’s every indication that the end is now on the horizon. Across Europe the situation is in many cases much better still, which is cause enough for some cautious celebration. Even though Luís recorded this before the lockdown took effect, i hear in it the prospect of what life will sound like in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.
Considering it’s a city centre recording, there’s not a great deal of human activity. As Luís says in his introduction, occasional joggers and cyclists, and a passing mother and child, are more or less the only people that we hear beside the Eckensee lake, located just a hop and skip from the Stuttgart Opera House (which has already reopened). Everything else is the songs and calls of birds, the gentle presence of air and water – almost more implied than actively audible – and the periodic tolling of bells from various locations. It’s a beautifully observational recording, conveying a vivid and immersive sense of just sitting and silently listening to the world around. All being well, it won’t be too much longer before we can all do this once again.
All of the recordings featured in Outside-In are available to download or stream; there’s no charge for downloading, but you’re free to make a payment if you wish, and all proceeds made will be shared among the contributors.
If you have a recording you would like to be considered for this project, please see the Call for Recordings information below.
Call for Recordings
If you have a recording you would like to be considered for Outside-In, the guidelines are very simple:
- approximately 5-15 minutes’ duration – long enough to allow some decent immersion;
- no obvious editing – recordings can be discreetly edited but should generally sound like a single recording, with no sudden cuts;
- no indoor or underwater recordings – all in the open air;
- no speech or overt human noises, apart from perhaps in the distance or as a part of the ambiance/surroundings;
- the recording doesn’t need to be made using high-end equipment, but should be good enough to be enjoyed transparently, without attention drawn to its shortcomings.
Please note: the idea is that the recordings were made before the lockdown, but if you would like to make one that reflects the current, quieter state of the world – without breaking any local rules on going outside in the process! – then that’s absolutely fine.
To send your recording, please use the 5:4 Contact form and in the “Your Message” section please include the following:
- a download link to your recording (via WeTransfer, or equivalent), which should preferably be in compressed lossless format (e.g. FLAC – no lossy recordings!);
- information about the place, time and situation in which the recording took place – as much or as little detail as you would like to share;
- a Google Maps link to the exact/approximate location where the recording was made.