Our nascent Bay Area chapter of ASAE, Bay Area Sound Ecology, held its first public listening salon on November 28. Christened ‘BASEbot’ with a nod to the popular Dorkbot model of informal technical salons, the event was intended to introduce both the chapter and the salon format to potential members.
BASEbot is an experiment in bringing people together around listening and the soundscape. It is envisioned as a meeting place for ear-minded people, and ultimately a platform for soundscape oriented projects. Toward that end I think our first salon was a great success! We had about 40 people attend to hear Chris Watson’s excellent presentation of sounds and techniques.
The meeting was launched by host Dan Dugan, well known as inventor of the Dugan Automatic Microphone Mixer and for his work with the Nature Sounds Society. Dan described his personal history and introduced the space for our meeting: his comfortable surround-sound equipped studio and home.
BASE co-chair pro tem Jeremiah Moore then introduced BASE and outlined the goals of the organization: to be a broadly-inclusive multidisciplinary forum for all Bay Area residents interested in listening and the soundscape. Jeremiah also described the (roughly bimonthly) BASEbot forum, which we envision will consist of one or two featured speakers, a time for announcements and calls for discussion, a break for informal discussion, and finally a sign-up listening salon, for sharing recordings and other soundwork with a like-minded and supportive (or if desired, critical) audience.
Finally, Aaron Ximm (other BASE co-chair pro tem) briefly introduced the night’s featured speaker, Chris Watson, one of the best-known field recordists in the world. Chris delivered an hour-long lecture in two parts. Part One defined a personal ontology for recordings, dividing sounds into (sometimes metaphorical) ‘atmospheres,’ ‘habitats,’ and ‘featured species,’ and described several favorite techniques Chris has used to make those different kinds of recordings. Part Two featured an in-depth account of recent work with four-channel surround sound hydrophone recording, both in the open water and buried in shallow sand or mud. Both sections were richly illustrated with favorite old and new and unreleased recordings, in both stereo and four-channel surround.
Chris’ presentation was recorded via a stereo microphone in the room; the hour-long two-part lecture now available via the BASEbot Podcast.
BASE is currently forming as an organization, and we invite any interested persons to join us. We anticipate meeting next in February 2008. We hope to draw members from the broadest group – be they sound designers, radio producers, composers, musicians, bioacousticians, or simply humans who listen.
Chris Watson: www.chriswatson.net
-Aaron Ximm and Jeremiah Moore, BASE co-chairs