4. Approach to Data Collection

4. 1 Equipment – sound sources and instruments

Recording equipment and sound sources/instruments were chosen for their weight and portability. Microphone stands were replaced by lightweight camera tripods, with microphones secured in place with gaffer tape (Figure 5). A customised microphone boom was made (courtesy of Justin Vitello) attached to a 2-foot (0.6m) long wooden pole to facilitate recording in the cramped spaces inside the broch. The compact, lightweight Sound Devices 744 T audio recorder proved reliable and easy to use in the field. Sound-producing instruments were chosen for their portability and their distinctive acoustic characteristics. It was the author's intention that the sounds created by these instruments might have been recognisable or familiar to the builders of the broch (Hickman et al. 2001). The distinctive sound of iron bars (two ½inch x 3ft bars struck together) associated with working metal may be connected to broch function (evidence of metal and iron working is apparent in many broch contexts: MacGregor 1972, 100; Armit 2003). A 24 inch (60cm) wooden hand drum (with parchment head, struck with a solid wooden beater) represents a portable percussive instrument similar to those recovered from other prehistoric locations. A 12 inch resin whistle was chosen for its ability to produce a pure steady tone approximating the tone of a large bone or wooden flute.

Figure 5

Figure 5: Mousa broch 5 mic surround sound set-up. Forward-facing 3 microphones (stereo and centre): Windpac with stereo field (battery powered microphone) and shotgun (battery powered) microphone recorded by Fostex FR2. Rear-facing stereo: Neumans matched pair, powered and recorded by Sound Devices 744T


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