My idea for assignment 2 was to make a soundscape for a scene from a book I had read. Almost immediately I thought of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island which I had read in High School. Initially I thought about the sounds of the island, the surf and the seagulls. After looking for sounds on some of the sound-clip websites I decided to try and create the sounds of a busy dock, the sounds that young Jack Hawkins would’ve encountered on his first visit to the port of Bristol, where he boarded the Hispaniola.
I searched for docks and harbour sounds on several sound-clip sites and also for seagulls, creaking boats, ships bells and crowds. One of the best sound effects of a crowd that I found was actually from a shopping mall, but it served my purposes quite well.
I shortlisted about a dozen clips from Soundbible.com and Freesound.org, being careful to exclude anything that had recognisable modern sounds. I then downloaded the ones I thought would work best. The sound clips I used are listed below.
- Rowing a boat by Lazure
- Shopping Mall Ambience
- Small Crowd by Mike Koenig
- Ship Bell by Mike Koenig
- Herring Gull 2
- 20080421 by dobroide
- boat_on_the_dock by suonidigenova
- drunks fighting by tigersand
I used Audacity to mix and edit the sounds as it was a tool I was familiar with. I combined the sounds, altering the volume of some of the clips to fade them slightly. I also repeated a few of the clips to extend the soundscape to 45 seconds in length. One of the audio clips included some Spanish conversation, so I layered the ships bell and seagull over the top to obscure it.
I’m quite happy with the final result and think that it does convey the impression of a busy mid-18th century harbour. The final mix was saved as a mp3 file and uploaded to Audioboo.fm. From there I found the embed code to add it to my WordPress blog. You can listen for yourself…
Finally, here’s a brief tutorial on how to edit and combine sound clips with Audacity.