In the natural world, water is mainly heard through the sounds of rainfall, rivers and the sea. Water is life-giving and essential for our survival, and when we experience a soundscape including a natural water element, this usually makes us feel immediately closer to nature. The more gentle soundscapes, such as rainfall, a small stream or gentle waves can have a positively calming effect on our mood.
I try to record the rain whenever possible and really enjoy capturing rainfall in calm, natural environments with little or no human-made noise included (such as in forests or jungles). Sometimes, however, a rainy urban environment creates an opportunity to record a unique soundscape. This was exactly the case when sitting out a storm in our guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
I was sitting in the open-sided terrace when the storm arrived. As we were about to head out, I had my recorder with me so to pass the time I decided to record the rainfall. Initially the rain was falling heavily with regular thunder claps off in the distance. The soundscape was made interesting by the way the rain sounded as it hit the tin roof that surrounded the hotel bar.
I carried on recording thinking I’d capture some more rain and thunder, and then came one of those unforeseen moments us field recordists dream of. A unique, unpredictable moment when two completely separate sounds combine to create a perfectly orchestrated soundscape.
Just after I hit record for a second take, someone started playing some traditional Cambodian music form a stereo. The sound reverberated beautifully around the streets. And at the same time thunder claps started rolling across the skies. A very interesting one-off soundscape that will never be captured again.