Location recording: getting lucky in India

13th June 2018

Some years ago we visited Darjeeling in India. We spent an afternoon walking around Mahakal Monastery, with its views towards the Himalaya. And then I heard something…

We’d stopped for a rest on a bench in the grounds, and just after we’d sat down, some temple visitors started ringing bells.

Spread out across the grounds, and against birdsong from the surrounding woods, the bells sounded amazing. I started recording, although I didn’t have time to test and set recording levels – I needed to jump in and record, and hope I got at least something that sounded passable.

But I actually got lucky – in the end I got an 8 minute recording, recorded as loud as it could be while not actually clipping at all. Here’s the recording. It’s a binaural recording, made with in-ear mics, so it’s well worth listening on headphones if you can; the sound is spacious and detailed.

I put the recording online, and it was found by the electroacoustic composer Michael Oliva, who got in touch asking to use the audio – so it became part of his composition Requiem, for choir, flute, organ and computer, performed in St Albans cathedral in 2010.