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Field Recordings

Vak 2012-2013

Admission requirements

n/a (possession of audio recording materials is recommended)


A soundscape is a combination of sounds in the environment. Every place, circumstance and time of day has different sonic characteristics and these diverse soundscapes are studied in various fields, most commonly bioacoustics, anthropology and sound art. Interacting ecological components of a soundscape include biotic (animal and insect sound), abiotic (environmental sound, weather) and anthropogenic (man-made sounds).

Understanding the potentially infinite variety of soundscapes requires considerations of how individual sounds occur in combination, how they interact with each other and with the listener. Learning to listen to both naturally occuring and constructed soundscapes heightens awareness of one’s relationship to the sonic environment.

Field Recording consists of recording, editing and re-presenting these soundscapes. It emphasises a technologically mediated relationship to sonic environments that are often difficult to access, such as underwater. Practical field recording experiments are a way of learning to listen, to manipulate and to recreate soundscapes, allowing one to rethink and enlarge attitudes towards the role of sounds in the environment.

Lab 2: Field Recordings has both a theoretical and a practical component: besides gaining insight into ideas behind field recordings, students learn to make their own field recordings.


Mid March – mid May (as much of it will take place outside).
3 hour session, once per week, over 8 weeks.

Mode of instruction

Tutorial (including lecture and listening sessions) + excursions (field-recording work)

Assessment method

The students will produce a project using practical field recording combined with a written rationale based on the theoretical aspects of the course.



Reading list

Schafer, R. Murray The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1993)

LaBelle, Brandon, Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (London: Continuum Press, 2007). (Selections)

Other texts and articles will be provided on BlackBoard.


Marten van der Meulen

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Marcel Cobussen

Marten van der Meulen


Some recording equipment will be provided. Students are encouraged to bring their own if available. Likewise, students can use their own computers for editing field recordings, basic software will be provided or free to download for this purpose.
Excursions will take place in and around Leiden unless otherwise stated.