Outside-In: Ian Wilson

by 5:4

The latest contribution to the Outside-In project, exploring diverse field recordings, comes from composer Ian Wilson. Unlike the previously-featured recordings, this one is nocturnal. Ian says this about it:

The recording was made on 20th April in the heart of the south Serbian countryside, just outside the village of Međureč, not far from the city of Jagodina but far enough to feel in the middle of nowhere. We’re in lockdown here from 6pm to 5am and I made the recording just after 10pm in the garden of the place we’re staying in – no human noise apart from (weirdly) some gunshots in the distance, which is unusual. A poacher, we think. I used an old Zoom H2 for the recording, which was made in what is part-garden, part-allotment surrounding the house, and this particular bird likes to sit in one of the trees at the bottom and sing all night.

The bird in question is a nightingale, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to focus on the intricacies of its song. It highlights the fascinating permutational nature of the songs of so many birds, where each short phrase is entirely unique yet obviously constructed from the same repertoire or family of sound gestures as all the others. Rather like short bursts of algorithmic electronics. Although Wilson’s recording focuses on the nightingale, i love how (in a similar way to Jonathan Coleclough’s recording) it has a dual perspective: in addition to the intimacy of the birdsong there’s an omnipresent openness captured in the broad general ambiance that includes a variety of much more distant noises. In addition to the startling occasional sounds of gunshots, there’s at least one additional nightingale somewhere farther away, leading to a nice impression of accidental (or perhaps even conversational) counterpoint.

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 at the bottom of the article.

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.

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