SONNTAG, 22. November 2009, 23:03 - 23:45, Ö1


"urban sound stories" vol. 3



von Eric Cordier


4 sites artificially contructed urban space:

1) Night works on the Railway at Bercy Station
Railway at Bercy Station 48° 50’ 19,73” N 2° 23’ 30,22” E

2) Small electric train in Bercy Station
Bercy Station 48° 50’ 21,12” N 2° 23’ 00,60” E

3) Harbour sound
Port des Champs Elysées, 48° 51’ 48,98” N 2° 17’ 55,59” E

4) Le Bourget’s Air Meeting
Le Bourget airport/Parc départemental de Dugny-La Courneuve (north and a little east suburb of Paris (dept 93)) 48° 56’ 51,48” N 2° 25’ 17,88” E

4 sites of "unspoiled nature"
All in “Bois de Vincennes”, situated in the suburb, but belongs to Paris

1) Storm
Brook close to the Route des Batteries 48° 49’ 41,46” N 2° 25’ 13,52” E

2) Waterfall
Route de la ceinture du Lac de Daumesnil, close to the Route des Batteries 48° 49’ 42,61” N 2° 25’ 10,90” E

3) Aquatic insect 1
Brook close to the Route des Batteries 48° 49’ 41,46” N 2° 25’ 13,52” E

4) Aquatic insect 2 (decelerator) (2 extracts)
Brook close to the Route des Batteries 48° 49’ 41,47” N 2° 25’ 13,51” E

I have chosen to make you listen to my daily sound environment in sample 1, 2 and the video, as I’m living close to a railway station.
Apart that I has chosen 2 places of Paris that was for me particularly interesting and out of the every day life.
Some harbour sounds and the international plane meeting of Le Bourget, where I have recorded the more powerful and dirty sound that I have never heard.

As previously seen with the curator the composition is not made with the picture’s datas turned in midi files but the 2 first minutes call “nolisation des travaux” is a stereo recording with 2 magnetic pick-ups of the activity of my computer in reading several times the video. The following 17 minutes “die Stadt von Lärm” is a composition based on the exposed field recording, added to some analogical noise from microphone has the charge up and down of the condenser of the microphone as it is analogue to the deceleration of the insects and of the planes.

Tools : all the recordings are made with some Neumann Km 184 except some planes with X-Y couple of dynamics AKG D 58E and the insects mainly with piezzo contact mics and not so much hydrophones (has it was just for
tests) on recorders : Tascam DAP1, Marantz PMD 661, Zoom H4m.

Some thoughts on the question of “unspoiled nature” and determination/limitation of the sites.

The project is based on the exploration of big European cities and the topic is split in two parts: “artificially constructed urban space” and “unspoiled nature”. The first part of this is easy but the second is quiet astonishing. It is very difficult to speak about nature and perhaps even pervert about such cities where everything has been built and rebuilt by humans since 2000 years. Even if I was thinking that the task was impossible, I have tried to answer to the topic.

How to find some nature in Paris, in the parks? They are totally built up and continuously gardened. The river Seine? It is totally polluted and especially polluted in the point of view of sound with the boats that carry tourists. Can we consider the plants, the animals, mammals, birds, even insects as part of the nature? The plants that grow spontaneously in Paris are not natural plants, but only pioneer or ruderal plants as the buddleia that invade Europe since the eighties (coming from Vietnam). The pets are obviously not nature but can we tell that the animals that live without the help of the humans as part of “unspoiled nature”. No! This kind of animals as rats, mousses, termites or ants are called “comensals” in this sense that if they live independently from humans, they take their food from human activities and they are indirectly helped by humans (by example the termites that has came by boat in some wood coming from Africa).
As it is strictly defined : “unspoiled nature” the challenge is totally impossible to reach. The only way to reach it a little was to record some meteors as a storm (sample 1), humans do still not direct the meteors. The other way is to record a waterfall that sounds the same way in nature or if it is built by hands (sample 2).

But by chance I can answer a little to the topic.
When the project has been submitted to me at the beginning of the summer I was beginning to do some underwater recording with Thomas Tilly, just to test and compare microphones and hydrophones. For doing the tests, as we live on the extreme east part of Paris, we have decided to go to the “Bois de Vincennes” the easier place for us where they were some water.
And by chance, what should be just test has become interesting recordings, because we have recorded some aquatic insects that are not common and several try of recording during the rest of the summer in place that should be more appropriate has been negative.

Speaking with a naturalist we have understand that the “Bois de Vincennes” is a quiet preserved area. This place is not a place of “unspoiled nature”, it is an artificially built preserved area. Some part of this park has been built on some farm and buildings, we can find some remains of wall in some part. This wood belongs to the nation since years, since the time of kings that were using it as a place for hunting, close to the king castle. This park is now a kind of wood devoted to promenade more than to the production of wood. Too much people walk here and no “good” wood can grow for the industry and they died from age, they are let down and fall in decay giving food to mushrooms and insects and these become some good food for birds. This wood is also preserved because it is not surround by agriculture and so preserved from pesticides.
The brook where we have done the recording is not a natural brook, it has been dig to bring water to an artificial lake. Some parts of the brook are made of stone and concrete, the water is coming from under earth by tubes but we can find in it some fragile insects. So for these recordings we are not in front of a part of “unspoiled nature”, but an *artificially constructed urban preserved area* located between the city and the suburb.

The various recordings of storm, waterfall and various types of insects and freshwater snail (eating some plants) (sample 1 to 4) are located in the same area along less than 200m of an artificial brook in “Bois de Vincennes”. One location was enough and that was perhaps the only location possible in Paris with its twin park “Bois de Boulogne” and enough interesting to show you the various aspect of this rare place.
The recording has been made at several time at the same place in July, end of August and mid September.
Sample 3, the decelerating insect sound, has been used in a reverse way in the composition.

Brook close to the Route des Batteries: