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Antarctica – 02 – Crevasse

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014

Antarctica – 02 – Crevasse

Blog Update 2 – Crevasse Recording

This week my good friend Roger has taken me down a crevasse with different hammers and sticks to record icicles. We managed to record for 45 minutes, and then I chopped them into 540 individual samples, mapped them to a keyboard so that I could play them, and then processed them with guitar amps, effect pedals, EQ and compression. After about 40 hours of work I came up with this…. (98% is all crevasse, with the exception of a few drums that come in around 2:18)

 

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To enter the chamber we had to abseil through a very small hole just big enough to squeeze through (without a rucksack on!) – fortunately it was ice so it was quite slippery. It was a relief to get inside because the wind had picked up rapidly on the surface and the visibility was now less than 50 meters. As soon as we entered the chamber it was eerily silent considering how much it was blowing outside.

Abseiling into the crevasse

 

The blueness and natural formation of the crevasse was beautiful. Some of the icicles had reached the floor and had slowly thickened to form massive columns of crystal clear ice. Roger was very helpful in hitting the icicles and different bits of ice with a selection of hammers. We found that a wooden mallet worked best for the larger icicles, and a drum stick was perfect for the smaller more delicate icicles. Inevitably some of them broke and hit the floor – although I felt a little bit guilty for destroying a few icicles in such a wonderful place I was assured that they reform quickly, and the sound they made when they broke and hit the floor was superb! I was stunned at how tuneful the icicles could be, and some of them would ring for around ten seconds.

 

Recording in the Crevasse

 

Although there was no wind in the chamber I used a Rycote windshield to protect the internal microphones on the portable recorder from the many tiny shards of ice that would fall and eventually melt and damage the capsules. The windshield also helped to gradually ease the sudden change of temperature from the comfort of the case to the surrounding air at around -20°C. The handheld shock mount was also very useful to eliminate any noise from handling the recorder and gave an brilliant soft grip especially when my hands started to go a bit numb. The extra length and pivoting mechanism enabled me to get the recorder extremely close and in more interesting places to acquire different sounds.

I am still waiting for the wildlife to venture closer to the shore and set up camp for the summer so that I can record interesting animal noises to play with.

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