Project Methods

I have traveled Mount Tom’s terrain during ten separate visits. The first two fieldwork experiences were spent exploring the trails and the space between, the land plots near  roads, and those in areas lesser traversed. I listened to the different acoustic characters of each different ecosystem: marsh, stream, pond, forest, and clearing. In following visits, I used my smartphone as a preliminary recording device that allowed me to understand what a microphone can detect in each place.

After I had selected locations according to their soundscape diversity, I returned several times throughout the months of October and November with a Zoom H4n. I recorded in four different locations, which gave a better sense of the spatiality of Mount Tom, and its aural niches. I made recordings near a location of the Blue Trail path that crossed a stream, by Lake Bray, on the mountain summit, and at the entrance off of Rt. 141 (across from the Tavern on the Hill.) This project thrives on the diversity of sound in the Pioneer Valley – demonstrated even on this microcosmic scale.

During these fieldwork experiences, I recorded the sounds of dawn, noon, dusk, and midnight. This range of times best allowed me to capture a sense of place at Mount Tom, because it accounted for the shifts in sonic activity as day and night pass. I then edited several recordings together to form a condensed, composite soundscape. This was composed of the dawn chorus, daytime activity (including human sounds of hikers, cars passing, and planes overhead), sounds of dusk, and waves of crickets, cicadas, and tree frogs at night. You can find the result of this above.

My nighttime explorations featured encounters with bat sounds, roaring All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), and silent figures walking in solitude. The Zoom microphone registered distant sounds of human interactions (with each other, and with pets). It also captured the anthropogenic sounds of cars, trucks, and planes.

I also used a HV40 camera to make silent videos of the places where I made recordings, and took photographs with an EOS Rebel SL1 (18-55 mm lens), and created spectrogram images to contribute to the understanding of these soundscapes.