Creeks, Flutes and Guitars

The air conditioner is off and the recording begins!!


Watch the above video and then read on….

My large studio space in the bowels of HOTA’s main building has a large air conditioning vent that keeps the space at an almost icy temperature. And it is always turned on.

There are four of us artists who use the space and we have to remember to bring our jumpers each day, even in the mid-summer heat. On top of this, there is a steady low hum that lingers throughout the space, rendering any serious audio recording obsolete.

In the search for usable spaces to record at HOTA, I enquired if it was possible to turn the air conditioner off. It was not such a straightforward solution as the local council operates the system, not HOTA themselves.

Come to the rescue, Ryan, the facilities manager at HOTA who was able to get permission from council to turn off the air conditioner and eliminate the noise from the studio. So last week we turned the system off for a couple of hours so I could set up my UA volt interface and try out some recording.

I started by recording some electric guitar. I plugged my 1978 Greco into my Guyatone valve amp (via a great Tym Guitars tone boost pedal) and recorded some single notes that could be used as possible samples for my project. I engaged the speed and intensity knobs on the amp to get those wavy pulses.


I used my RE320 microphone spaced at about 1 meter from the amp so as to capture a good direct sound from the speakers as well as some of the lovely room ambience (this large space has amazing reflections and reverb).

I then tried a longer form recording with the electric guitar, settling for a meandering and spaced out ambient vibe.

Nick (my fellow artist in residence) was nearby tapping away at his keyboard. As this was an experimental recording, I did not worry too much about possible bleed into my recording, but in the future I will try to be a bit more particular about achieving clean recordings.

After a few rounds on the electric, I settled for a take that I liked and recorded my nylon stringed guitar to mimic and dance along with the electric guitar.

I then set up my mic to record some flute.

I must say, playing the flute in this space is quite lovely.

It reminds me of when I was a kid playing every week in the school chapel. The reflections allow me to draw out my tone and sink into the reverb. I am a bit of a breathy flute player, something I embraced in the recording.

At times You can hear the whisper tones of the flute. These are those fluctuating high frequency notes that sound like a Tuvan throat singer without the low throaty drone.

In order to achieve this, you play the flute very softly, without playing a solid note and with plenty of air.

This recording came out as quite a meditative piece, so I spliced some video recordings I made at Mudgeeraba Creek with some associated field recordings to create a short music video. The whole process, including the mix took about half a day.

Let me know what you think.

This Ngarang-wal river project is proudly supported by HOTA’s Artkeeper program.