Are original field recordings of natural sounds OK on MeFi Music? June 21, 2015 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I could not find anything specific concerning this in the FAQ. However, since field recordings of nature/city soundscapes may not meet the traditional definition of a "music composition", I wanted to get some clarification.

I understand there is an experimental tag, as well as an ambient tag. However, I have not been able to find - so far - any posts containing field recordings of ambient nature/city sounds. This is why I'm not sure if it's permissible to post these types of recordings.

I know that not everyone may be on board with the whole John Cage "music is everywhere." I don't want to tread on toes. So: would it be acceptable (or even welcomed) to post original field recordings of nature and similar organic ambient sound?

I greatly respect that MeFi Music has been used to share original music compositions. Field recordings of nature/organic sounds, by contrast, are not so much compositions as they are pressing stop and start on the "record" button. They do often involve sophisticated sound recording techniques. Nevertheless, I get that it's different from creating sound from a clarinet or keyboard, or even from direct manipulation of everyday objects to create sounds (dropping pennies on a pile of empty soda cans).

I also realize this may become a hornet's nest of people arguing What Constitutes Music? I don't want that to happen, although I see how answering the question of "Is this original recording of dogs growling before a rain storm in the city OK to post on MeFi Music?" inevitably leads us back to What Constitutes Music? or even an understandably dismissive "It's MeFi Music, the end."

Anyway, if the whole field recorded nature/city sound thing doesn't fly on MeFi Music, I get it and am happy to seek out a more appropriate venue. Just curious what everyone thinks?
posted by nightrecordings to Etiquette/Policy at 4:57 PM (34 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I say go for it, sure. As long as you're not flooding the front page with it, a little bit of outre stuff seems like an okay part of the mix.

If I remember right, we actually had a conversation about this in Metatalk back when Music was pretty new—so probably eight or nine years ago now—where I think we came down more on the "eh, not so much" side, but if so clearly my feelings have shifted a bit in the interim.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:02 PM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I side with John Cage, but think the main thing here would be to curate sensibly. There's a recording of crickets on Abbey Road; if we imagine Mefi Music as an Abbey Superhighway then it's hard to see it being objectionable here and there.
posted by solarion at 5:19 PM on June 21, 2015


I am definitely not looking to flood the front page. Maybe one post per month, if that, and I'd be pretty particular about what I post. Of course, I also realize I may be asking to open Pandora's Box. Which could then lead to a front page flood.

...although how many other people on here, honestly, are hoping to do this? I'm hoping we're a tiny, relatively harmless minority.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:36 PM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, exactly. I figure we can worry about the dam breaking and the silent majority of reticent but prolific field recordists taking over Music when it actually starts to happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:40 PM on June 21, 2015 [22 favorites]


I think this would be really neat.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:52 PM on June 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


I would listen to this.
posted by item at 5:59 PM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm much more likely to listen to this than a lot of the currently active contributors to Music (wonderful and creative though they may be, of course) so I hope you go for it and attract some other field recordists to contribute as well.
posted by Mizu at 6:10 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


FWIW my reaction is yes, cool, do it!
posted by en forme de poire at 6:13 PM on June 21, 2015


strawberryviagra used to do this.
posted by unliteral at 6:36 PM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like to play soundscapes while working (or layered soundscapes derived from multiple sources, like You Are Listening To) so this is welcome by me.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:44 PM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Take my opinion with an enormous pinch of salt, but I tend to view MeFi Music as a place where people can periodically drop sound files that they're a little bit proud of stroke amused by.

In case that sounds ambiguous, you appear to be sincerely chuffed with this, so speaking as a lapsed MeFi Music habitué who also likes me some ambient ambient I'd say post away, just don't spam.

I don't think the (relatively) low traffic nature of MeFi Music is in any way by design. Musicians gotta muse.

Again, pinch of salt.
posted by comealongpole at 7:05 PM on June 21, 2015


If I remember right, we actually had a conversation about this in Metatalk back when Music was pretty new
Sure did, nylon had an early post taken to metatalk by mathowie.
posted by unliteral at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Relatedly, what's the thinking on spoken word? Fine in moderation like everything else, I'd assume?
posted by comealongpole at 7:16 PM on June 21, 2015


I'll probably never listen to these (the highlight of Music for me was Punch 'Em In The Dick) but I'd kind of like to live in the world where the ambient nature folks take over the front page of Music. I'm already disappointed that the world isn't weird and joyous enough to include that particular kind of problem.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:48 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ha, unilateral, I'd forgotten that that all went down before I was even a mod. So Matt was specifically kind of down on it and I was already mildly cheerleading for it, apparently.

Relatedly, what's the thinking on spoken word? Fine in moderation like everything else, I'd assume?

I think if you're willing to defend the idea of it having a degree of, as it were, musicality (so, evocative performance of spoken word yes, reading a phone book into your iphone mic because you're bored not so much), a little of that wouldn't be a problem.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:18 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


put it this way, if MeFi Music should officially decided NO to soundscapes etc, I'm officially advocating for MeFi Noise, the subsite.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 PM on June 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Sounds like a fine idea to me. I always forget Music is there and could use more incentives to glance that way.
posted by brennen at 8:47 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ha, unilateral, I'd forgotten that that all went down before I was even a mod. So Matt was specifically kind of down on it and I was already mildly cheerleading for it, apparently.

Be right back after checking all metafilter activity for the last decade to check for more signs that all metafilter staffing decisions were the result of an elaborate cortex con job to change the "official opinion" on this matter.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:38 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm for it!
posted by greenish at 1:22 AM on June 22, 2015


I posted a song that was field recordings and spoken word. Here. The world did not explode and I was not laughed out of MeMu. Those folks over there are pretty nice.
posted by French Fry at 6:27 AM on June 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Tangential, but this MetaTalk thread suddenly reminded me to (re)listen to Julian Cope's Woden, which includes the bells of Yatesbury church, on Salisbury Plain.

So, thanks.
posted by Wordshore at 8:41 AM on June 22, 2015


Given that I'm a fan of Social Interiors, especially "The World Behind You", I don't see any problem with ancient sound collections.
posted by happyroach at 8:45 AM on June 22, 2015


I have a great collection I've been waiting for a good time to post! Bathroom Sounds of the Lower Middle Class
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:56 AM on June 22, 2015


I posted a song that was field recordings and spoken word.

this is delightful btw.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love ambient sounds. Bring 'em on!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:01 PM on June 22, 2015


Well, nightrecordings, as one of your fellow comrades in field recording/soundscaping, you certainly know how I feel about this. Personally, I'm deep in the throes of resuscitating Science Park, so I'm sticking to a singer/songwriter vibe this year, but I look forward to your contributions.
posted by mykescipark at 5:30 PM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The art of the photographer lies mainly in the recognition of scenes worth reproducing. I see no reason why the art of the field recorder should not be considered similarly.

I look forward to hearing what it is that has made you think "Yes! I want to hear that again."
posted by flabdablet at 8:14 AM on June 23, 2015


Bathroom Sounds of the Lower Middle Class

My laundry is occasionally quite danceable.
posted by flabdablet at 8:22 AM on June 23, 2015


Neat! I, too, will happily listen to it. Can you capture the sounds of field mice dancing under a full moon?

The Denver version of MOMA had an artist last year who created this wonderful exhibit that was centered around touching, listening, and experiencing art beyond visually. One piece was different rocks with headphones glued onto them so you could put them on and "listen" to the rock. Been thinking about it ever since - what would limestone sound like? Or granite? Is there some kind of sound at a level human ears can't pick up? What does it sound like from the perspective of granite buried deep underground? What does a dinosaur bone sound like? I admit that a few times now I've put my ear to some rocks to see if I could hear anything. How sound travels through rock is a really important imaging tool, but what that actually sounds like is fun to think about.

Anyway, your nature sound recordings sound really cool and similarly inspiring. That you have to choose the composition is an idea that's absolutely intriguing and just plain nifty. Neat!
posted by barchan at 9:43 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure my opinion counts for much, as I pay approximately zero attention to MeMu right now, but I expect my attention to that subsite would increase if there were field recordings there. In other words, I'm in favor of it.

P.S. unilateral, thanks for drawing my attention to strawberryviagra's recordings.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:08 PM on June 23, 2015


Hm. I *thought* I posted an hour-long recording of the beach here, because I remember it being appreciated here, but I posted it on my own site. That was probably just due to the size constraints here.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:53 PM on June 23, 2015


P.S. unilateral, thanks for drawing my attention to strawberryviagra's recordings.
You're welcome. Thanks for adding to my unilateral action collection. Two in one thread (thanks to cortex).
posted by unliteral at 6:38 PM on June 23, 2015


I am pro field recordings and experimental audio drawn from life in MeFi Music, not least because of alicila's work, which deserves to be collated from the Wayback Machine and given its own corner of the Internet Archive.
posted by holgate at 8:48 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be in favor of renaming MeFi Music to MeFi Sounds or MeFi Audio, should it come to that.
posted by softlord at 8:27 AM on June 29, 2015


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