The MapLove e-course is all about recording your environment, literal or imagined. In anticipation of its release as a self-paced class, here’s a bookart project: how to record sound as a map.
A recent lovely guest at The Green Shed introduced me to the brilliant (and free) Merlin app which helps you identify birds by how they look and sound. Now I whisk out the phone at every trill and wing-flutter.
Here’s an example from an evening in early June. The various marks look like short-hand writing, don’t you think?
Looking out from The Whale Bone Studio at a squadron of swallows skimming over the flower meadow, I was thinking about the project for the monthly newsletter….and realised how delightfully satisfying it might be to create a series of concertina books full of sound recordings represented in unique and expressive marks.
I hope you enjoy experimenting with how to record sound in book form!
- Strips of paper. I’ve used thick Cotton Khadi handmade paper. An A3 sheet divided into three or four strips, down the long length
- Ink – this is Iron Oak Gall ink that my island man made
- Brushes/sticks/feathers/fingers… anything to dip in ink and make a mark
- Bone folder (optional) this one pictured further down is from the fabulous Vintage Paper Co
Step by step:
Prepare your work surface and mark-making equipment.
Dip your brushes/sticks/feathers/fingers into the ink. I tried to get the brush tips to line up, but it was tricky.
Listen to the sounds around you. Are you going to record voices, waves, footsteps or birdsong? Without thinking about it too much, add ink to paper in response to the sounds you hear.
Continue right to the end of the strip.
If the weather is warm, set the strip to dry in the sun (weighted down with little stones if wind threatens.)
When dry, fold in half.
Use the bone folder (if you have one) to make a nice clean crease.
Then fold one end back to the middle.
Repeat with the other end.
A bird’s eye (see what I did there?) view of a simple concertina, representing the song/chirrups outside the window.
A beautiful presentation structure.
Here’s a narrower strip, ready to fold. You may not recognise the notation, but it might have been a wren.
Divide in half.
Back to the middle crease.
Flip over and repeat with the other end.
Then fold one end back on itself.
Turn over and repeat with the other end.
Finally sub-divide the remaining strip so that every page is the same width.
Resulting in a taller narrower concertina.
I love the contrasts of scale, depending on the number folds and the height of the paper.
Keep recording sounds until you’ve run out of strips!
You’ll probably want to download the Merlin app immediately. And maybe donate to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology who have made this incredible resource, the visualisation of birdsong available.
If you enjoyed mapping sound in this way, look out for the self-paced MapLove course.