HSS8121: Enterprise and research Methods

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In-depth research for me used to be strenuous. The main reason was due to the difficulty I found in structuring them. In an age where information is so abundant it can be quite easy to get carried away and get lost online.

Over the last year, the influence of artists and musicians I have befriended in my creativity and my creative process, has led me to research my topic of interests more. This course and module has  taught me the true value of in-depth research and how much it can affect your passions, your work and even your attitude.

Using walking as a medium to conduct research truly resonates with me. My first impression of a city when first arriving, is of its historical monuments, popular spots and landscapes. The city, comes to life with the traffic of people and vehicles, loud in the more open streets and avenues but quiet in the backstreets and parks. The people movements gives the city a pulse, a lifestream and discovering new environments in it is a passion. Each has its own atmosphere of smells, sounds and colour. Each have a unique identity. 

Henri Lefebvre’s concept of the streets as a place of rhythms and interactions, perfectly illustrate the way I like to experience urban environments. During the act of walking and consciously listening to its environment, the listener might be surprised and even delighted during his exploration. The sound of the crowds footsteps reverberating on the buildings facades or the sound of pigeons wings echoing in an old church. These are some of the things that we take for granted but form parts of the urban musical composition.

For the research proposal I wanted to propose a research that would fit my interests and motivate me to experiment and explore new ideas and concepts discovered in this module. The research was influenced and inspired by idea surrounding history, exploration of space by walking and field recording and workshops.

After looking into the history of Newcastle, I was fascinated by its long and rich history. From the Romans, to the Saxons and the Danes, the city has had many people control it. Some of the vestiges of the past left throughout the northeast are proof of their being here. Every time I visit such a place with a powerful history I always wish there were sounds of the area from its past to truly immerse yourself in the environment of the time. Arguably video and sound could be more appropriate but I enjoy the meditative and soothing exercise of just listening.

Tim Shaw’s sound walk around the city offered insight into the practices and application of walking as a research method. The practice of appreciating details, truly, and how this shapes our experiences with the environment we live in were the main things I took away from that day. Field recording had been in the back of my mind for sometime but with no real idea or concept of what to do with it. Looking more into it, I discovered composer R. Murray Schafer and his influence on the soundwalk movement along with Hildegard Westerkamp with her soft calm narrative tone in Kits Bits Beach.

The Jupiter recording with Serena Korda was truly eye opening to a new recording practice. I truly appreciated the dedication she had put into developing her work especially in regards to recording Jupiter. I particularly enjoyed the collaborative work of setting up the antennas and recording equipment in the middle of University grounds. Recording Jupiter is an experience I am sure to remember and hopefully reproduce soon again. The soundscape created on that day was truly dark and electrifying.

My first attempt at using field recorded sound samples to create a soundscape came to me one day when my housemates woke me up running up and down the stairs in the house shouting “Hello!” at each other. My plan was to walk around the house with my recorder and record any sounds I would pick up. On the day I decided to do the recordings, ready with my equipment, someone knocked on the door. As I went downstairs to open the door, I left the recorder on the bathroom sink still recording with the door open. Distracted by the person at the door and my housemates I completely forgot the recorder. It recorded for an hour and thirty minutes.

This is the result:

My second attempt was in the streets outside my flat. Late at night one night, impossible to close my eyes, my mind drifting off into the distance like the police sirens, I went for a stroll outside my home. Outside my window was inspired by Fancisco Lopez #249. An exploration of space with movement and city’s rhythm.

This module has helped me grasp some of understanding of varied research methodologies and ideologies.
I intend on continuing with this line of experimentation over the next few months.
My next step is to apply some of the knowledge and inspiration found.