We traveled out to Binn Éadair / Howth for the day. This is a peninsula east of Baile Átha Cliath / Dublin, on the north of Cuan Bhaile Átha Cliath / Dublin Bay. There is a village with lots of touristy places (reminds me very much of the touristy parts of coastal Maine, USA). From the top of Binn Éadair (‘Binn’ is a peak or cliff) you can walk several trails that go around the peninsula along cliffs and through heaths. The gorse here (‘aiteann’ is the name in Irish) was in bloom. Beautiful yellow flowers and lots of tough spines.

I hung two microphones inside one shrub and wondered what I’d hear. As we were up high and exposed the wind was strong and did not stop.

I was initially disappointed with how this recording came out. I suppose if I’m being honest I still am. I was interested in what it might sound like to be inside the gorse while the wind was whipping through it. I wasn’t very intentional about how I draped the mics in the plant, and the result is this.

However, if I filter out what my goals were, and instead just attend to what is here given, I do find it interesting. I find it interesting as a given duration filled with correlated sound events.

I’ve been reflecting on this. This recording, and in fact the majority of recordings I make, begin with some kind of interest. Even when I am trying to record “nothing”, I may describe it thus: “I’m interested in recording nothing happening here, because I have a feeling that when I listen back later, there will be a lot going on”. It occurs to me that one difference between when I feel that a recording has “worked” and when I feel that it has not may have to do with what, exactly I am (aiming to be) interested in. I’m thinking here of the distinction David Dunn makes in the notes for the score for “Purposeful Listening in Complex States of Time”1 between “composition as the organization of perception rather than the manipulation of the material basis of sound”.

When I try to record a specific, particular thing, I am often dissatisfied with the result when I consider it as a recording of that particular thing. I may nevertheless be satisfied with what I hear as a recording of a given duration at a given location. The more I hope to “catch” a particular “thing”, the more likely I am to be disappointed. I am most pleased when the recording is in some way relevant to the organization of my own perception–as a record of a duration of purposeful listening, as a given duration of sound for subsequent purposeful listening, and so on.

Considered in that light, I am less disappointed with this recording.



Looking out over the water from where I stood. The recording was taken directly behind. Cloudy sky, lots of water, and in the foreground gorse in flower.

Figure 1: Looking out over the water from where I stood.

Gorse in the foreground, a barely noticeable microphone hanging in it. In the background a path heads down slope towards the shore. Water visible in the distance.

Figure 2: You’ll notice a dark patch in the center of the bottom fourth of this photo–that’s one of the microphones hanging in the bush.


Binn Éadair
<2023-12-28 Thu>
Sony PCM-M10
Pair of Uši microphones from LOM in Slovakia
2, Dual mono
Other notes
No processing done. Right channel slightly louder than left. No attempt at getting a stereo “image” so I’m calling this “dual mono”.

  1. A formative event in my life was when Gustavo Aguilar, at the time my teacher at the University of Maine at Farmington, handed me a printed out copy of this score and gave me the assignment of taking it home, studying it, and then performing and documenting it before our next meeting. This would have been around 2010, 2011. At the time I thought it was interesting merely for the novelty of it. But I never forgot it. It took well over a decade for me to realise that at some point in the passing years something about this piece had integrated itself into my core systems, so to speak. It was and still is resonating with some other core parts of me: Oliveros, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, et al. ↩︎