Yesterday I noticed how much the soundscape changed along with all the colours. I landed here out of the grey, 360 days ago, with shreds of my life items packed between a broken suitcase and another one that belonged to my grandfather; my recording equipment weighted in my traveller backpack still with dirt from many other places. Inside me, a heart trying to mend, empty of expectations but curiosity the size of the world living in my body, as always. I did not know anything about this place except that the moon over the water and the sky were beautiful to the eyes and soul of someone that led me here, plus a sincere promise that I was going to like it.
And yes: just the journey on the back-seat of the uber, from the bus station to a street I then forgot the name of, filled my senses with all the bright colours and forever gentle shapes of the vast, vast meadows. The deep green really surprised me and punched my embarrassing ignorance. I blame it also on the media that seems to show things the same, over and over, fixating ideas in minds that don’t question – yellow. But not all were inaccurate: everything seemed to have a touch of eternity, and the dark figures of storks, herons and swifts against the descending sun were already fulfilling this promise made to me: I was already liking this. My eyes felt bigger than ever and today I like to imagine that this was the moment when my chest started to expand for this land.
Putting aside all the work anxiety and the adaptation on the limbo of a new place, on the following day I ended up going too early – or maybe not? – down to the river beach where “the moon is stunning”, with no capacity of being anonymous because the padaria labour happens at the darkest hours and its mellow pace can act like a little night-watch.
I have to wear confidence in these occasions. Head up, smile and hello, do I look strange? Please ask what this ball of grey fur is and what the hell is this girl doing here before 5 am? In a small place like this, there are no secrets. I think, therefore everyone knows. I need to be open.
I want to dodge but it would be a lot worse: to any door movement there is an ear and a bounce back and again off the walls of this narrow street. Well, luckily, the beach is juuust 7 houses away and then it opens: possibly no more encounters with the padaria people. Some things – maybe most things – sleep, but I don’t know anyone else’s schedules here yet. It’s still pitch black, the moon is not particularly bright or big; I know because I don’t remember it any more and so this is the register that remains and matters.
What was I wanting to listen? Maybe the first birds. I’ve heard stories of wild hogs and also wolves, so something was already too fantasized as I am too far south for all of that. I need to curb your expectations already: in reality there are no wolves at all, except in a little girl’s imagination (“there are many many bad wolves here”), but they existed. Here. When I started to write this, this subject about the wolves was not even contemplated, but you might know me! … In its time.
Under my feet there is sand, brought from somewhere else to make this river beach that filled all my delights across the three following seasons, morning-evening-night. The perception of my own body alerts me of all the noise I become in this quiet night. Clothes, jacket, backpack, tripod, cables, zippers, breathing, walking fast. I feel like a ridiculous menace but ridiculous with a purpose.
A fox! Wary but not too uncomfortable, it looks at me in the eye (how is it possible?). It’s in times like this that I want to be Snow White (minus the house labour and babyman-sitting. Also – it’s citrus season); I dream of offering my pale hand and having all the fauna falling in love with me at first sight.
The fox graciously disappeared into the darkness but all of me is smiling: a fox in less than 24 hours of my arrival? What a gift! And how promising.
I sat on the sand after a while, confused and indecisive if I should take my gear out of the backpack, nervous if some car would pass by in the road behind and what would I say if someone asks / this is not normal at all. How to be a ninja? My eyes scout nervously for places to hide from the road.There are some insects, some fish splash, the flag cord beating against the pole, my heart racing, mind confused – is that dim light the sun or some far lamp post? Is that velvet roar a burst of wind incoming or a car far on the bridge? I don’t even know this. Self-disappointed exhale.
I failed all of this, felt immature, I want to slap my own face at the same time I am little proud of the initiative (courage, in my lame case of shyness) of leaving the house in that early darkness, where I would be seen, even with my confidence shrinking at sound-speed. I should pay attention next time I check for the sunrise hour, but I giggle a little making fun of myself. There is time, but the first try was a fail. And now, 360 days after in retrospective, what right did I think I had to come here and start stealing sounds into a device? Without barely even feeling the air, with no familiarity, everything yet to grasp. The very little I knew belonged to someone else and I knew sooo little of that. I can’t honour it. Not just yet. But when?
Hi! I like to write and my mind has been wondering a lot about this. This time I want to put in this format instead of an article kind of thing. This is highly personal to my practice and my values and it’s something into self-discovery. It’s no advice, just reflections with a dose of self-critique. And who knows an open space for discussion.
2 thoughts on “Doubts and wanderings of a field recordist / entry one”
I very much enjoyed reading your piece, and we’ve all made such mistakes.
I hope that you’ll continue with this style of post.
Thank you so much! Yes, I’ll continue. Admittedly it is very private, nearing uncomfortable levels, but it’s part of the practice.