Yay, Though I walk through the Valley of Silicon
Instrumentation: Binarual Audio of 5th order ambisonics
Details: At the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area (The Yay) is silicon valley and all of it's economic disruption. This piece is a recording that traverses 4 city blocks on California Avenue (yes, right past The Hotel California) in Palo Alto. While many mistakenly believe University Avenue is at the heart of Palo Alto, it is a facade erected by the railroad tycoon turned university founder (Leland Stanford). The main street of Mayfield, which eventually became Palo Alto, was indeed California Avenue. This walk begins at the Cal Train Station (don't ask why there still is no cohesive mass transit) and ends at El Camino Real. El Camino Real is the path of the Spanish Missionaries which they marked by spreading poppy seeds so they could find their way back south to Mexico by following the yellow flowers (the pavement obscures the flowers). This acoustic journey is the result of six people recording simultaneously. They walked up the street in a formation which this ambisonic reconstruction preserves. The heart of the recording is an 8 capsule ambisonic microphone which captures a 360 degree soundfield. At the perimeter of this soundfield are 4 people arranged in a square, each operating a stereo recorder. These individual points on the sonic sphere serve as sonic maginification of components of the soundfield. By shifting the emphasis to each of these different recordings the listener encounters the entire sonic lanscape in one moment and in the next, is zoomed in to hear rusteling leaves or a passing vehicle (sometimes from multiple perspectives). The approach in mixing is simply using the human beings (or squirrels) penchant for following the most active sonic elements ("oh look a shiny thing" in visual speak) and emphasizing the recording where the sonic activity is. In addition to these recordings of sounds perceived by the human ear, there is an additional recording that was made by the sixth person in our party, who used a voice coil microphone in order to collect Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) radiation from cell phones, ATM's, power wires, walk signals, etc. These mechanically regular waveforms and pulsations blend with the soundfield recording in some moemnts and stand apart by dint of their periodic repetition. Recorded 2002/02/16 The recording team is was comprised of : Fernando Lopez-Lezcano - 8 channel ambisonic microphone - Center position Chris Lortie - stereo recorder - Front left Ricci Adams- stereo recorder - Back left CHristopher Jette - stereo recorder - Front right Vilbjorg - stereo recorder - Back right Doug McCausland - Voice Coil - random walk
The following is a binaural rendering (please use headphones! - you can't hear the spatial rendering without them) of the 3D ambisonic work. Please contact the composer for a full 36 channel version.