City Research Online

Shadows In The Field Recording

Rennie, T. (2016). Shadows In The Field Recording. Paper presented at the Sonologia: Out of Phase, 22-26 Nov 2016, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


This paper considers how an ethnographic mentality applied to field recording might benefit the recordist-composer. Many practitioners in the art of field recording are currently experiencing an ‘ethnographic turn’. Recent sonic arts discourse has engaged with the artistic practice of field recording, calling for scholars and practitioners to acknowledge the presence of the recordist as an active agent in the field (Anderson and Rennie 2016; Voeglin 2014; Lane & Carlyle 2013; Demers 2009). This recognition carries with it a heightened sense of awareness and responsibility on behalf of the recordist. As in ethnography, those undertaking field recording are now encouraged to be increasingly reflexive. Meanwhile, in the conceptual ‘border zones’ between art and anthropology, Schneider and Wright (2010, 2013) write that supposed divisions between the two practices actually mask much common ground. Recent sound works located between arts practice and anthropology are shown to reveal the process of fieldwork through field recording (Karel, Cox and Carlyle) and the emotional response of the recordist (Bennett). Carioca Sound Stories presents practice-based artistic research in sound undertaken by the author in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. The work develops this interdisciplinary method further, combining reflexive field recording and ‘context-based composition’ (Truax, 2012). Gregory Barz’s ethnomusicological fieldwork methodology is key to the work, in which Barz describes field research to be ‘one of the most meaningful processes engaged by ethnomusicologists to define themselves’ (2008: 206). Carioca Sound Stories translates Barz’s concept of ‘headnotes’ into visual annotations, whereby the piece simultaneously conveys experiences in the moment and reflections gained with hindsight. This practice-based research in composition aims to develop understanding of field recording as reflexive-ethnographic fieldwork, making clear the active agency anyone has when interacting with or documenting an identified field.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Text - Accepted Version
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