The practice of recording soundscapes can be used to preserve the acoustic characteristics of a unique location at a particular moment in time and allows listeners who may otherwise not have physical access to experience the sonic qualities at their own leisure. The recorded soundscape gives an opportunity to the listener to study, observe and reflect on the acoustic qualities in ways that may not be possible in the physical location. In addition, presenting a succession of soundscapes to the listener means that they can truly compare and enjoy multiple locations without the problems of transportation time and unrelated noise experience that physically travelling between spaces would incur.
There are perceptual attributes that are worth recognizing. Embarking on a task with the sole purpose of listening – how does it shape the perception of hearing and affect the listeners experience of that space? As a society we are used to filtering out everyday sounds or even the sound of a space, when a listener is forced to focus on particular atmospheres and background noise, how does it change the perception of those sounds and what significance is given to them?
The project proposition is to complete a series of location soundscape recordings in large churches within the city of Sydney. By using a binaural microphone array the sound of the space will be captured in a way that is natural and maintains the Interaural Time Difference (ITD) and Interaural Level Difference (ILD) cues that are necessary for accurate representation. The goal of binaural recording is to present at each ear canal of the listener the same sound pressure and spatial signals as recorded on the ipsilateral channel of a binaural microphone array. The resulting virtual audio image should be indistinguishable from the real audio image.
It is planned that the recordings should take place during the late evenings with the idea that this is when it is most likely to be able to capture the room ambience without excessive external or internal noise interference. By completing these recordings, it is hoped that listeners will be able to experience unique locations without having to visit them. The listener can be taken on a virtual binaural tour through the various spaces in which they can make judgements on the room shape, ceiling height, acoustic properties and background noise. They will be extended recordings that can be used not only for acoustic assessment but also for a deeper level of reflection and introspection.
The sound recordings and associated images will be stored on this site which listeners can freely access and enjoy. A description of the recording process and the acoustic conditions of the venues will supplement the soundscapes which listeners can use to discover more detail about the locations and identify components of the soundscape in order to give a better evaluation. It is hoped that the project would be added to by other location sound enthusiasts and eventually a binaural acoustic library would be created thereby preserving the aural character of Sydney’s houses of prayer at a particular moment in history.