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Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World Paperback – May 1, 2002
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For some reason there are many useful guides for getting into film and video sound recording or recording of live performances but a dearth of information for someone just getting into nature sound recording. Instead one needs to rely on blogs and forums on the internet and try to glean useful information and sort through what can be at time contradictory as much information relative to nature sound recording is highly subjective with different individuals having either a different opinion or different perspective based on their objectives.
It would be extremely helpful if Krause and others would cover the different recording approaches (XY, SASS, ORTF, binaural, contact, boundary, etc.) and the equipment options for different budgets. All to often people will recommend a "basic" binaural kit that has a recorder, two DPA microphones, and headphones for a cost that is more than $4,000, or recommend a dual microphone XY or ORTF kit that will cost over $6,000 to assemble.
How to record for post production is also ignored and though there are different approaches from the pyramid structuring of sound elements to the use of sonic layering (as with Chris Watson), and yet the end product is what is important and how to best achieve that end. It is also a matter of future proofing ones recordings and the time and expense to make them, so that they will still be of use later on.
The glossary provided in the book is worthless as the information provided is too brief to provide any real understanding of the term and how it plays in sound recording. For example, "amplitude is described as "a signal level measured in decibels", and decibels is described as "the common practical unit for the logarithmic expression of ratios of loudness, power, voltage, current, etc." which means if your really want to know what these terms mean and put them into context for sound recording, you will need to look them up on Wikipedia.
A better starting point for those interested in getting into field sound recording and who have little or no background in the area would be well advised to instead buy the e-book "Earth is a Solar Powered Jukebox" by Gordon Hempton. It provides several times the information as the book by Bernie Krause and as it is an e-book it has URL links to sound recordings which is needed for one to learning how to make ones own. Otherwise it is like a book on photography that is without any pictures.
I subtract one star because Krause makes comments suggesting that the sounds of the city are not to be enjoyed. I enjoy all of the ambient sounds of natural environments, including non-native species, and industrial sounds.
While he goes to great lengths to suggest that noises such as a jet pass-over detrimentally interrupt natural environments, the point fails to support the subject of the book. The information is well taken, but disturbing; which broke the magic of the book for me. That subject deserves its own book. This one deserved a more narrow focus.
My only complaints would be that he sometimes aims a bit too low -- the glossary defines "quiet" and "mic" for crying out loud -- and he automatically assumes that anybody else entering the field will want to duplicate exactly what he's done (which of course would be pretty pointless). He also apparently doesn't see the inherent contradiction between "Nature is an overused and abstract word, intertwined with a tradition that has created an 'it/us' dichotomy that separates us from the very world we try to describe" [p.2] and "In 1968 it took 15 recording hours to get one hour's worth of natural sound. Now, due to human noise and disturbed habitats, it takes about 2,000 hours to get the same result" [p.3].
Still, this is a valuable field guide for anybody starting out.