Midsummer 2010

Uppsala University interior, early evening. Cc by sa 80x15.png 2010 D A Ayer.

In 2010, I spent some time around Stockholm a couple of weeks before Midsummer, when the northern light almost never fades. My friend Martin served as guide and photographer as we walked around Östermalm and the palace area one evening.

Having sampled a bit of Stockholm, Martin had business in Uppsala the following evening, so we drove north. At the university there, we chanced upon an opera rehearsal in progress and an art performance in the cathedral. Neither venue allowed sound recording or photographs. But we did find some sculpture to investigate.

[edit] Sights and sounds

June 09, 2010

In the early morning, I managed to capture the sound of a few trains on the pendeltåg (commuter train) platform in Årstaberg. I was completely unprepared for the amplitude of the wind noise I encountered walking along the platform, which accounts for the nasty clipping in the first of these files. The sample with wind and gulls is an excerpt after a lot of cleanup (click-filtering followed by normalization).

There are no visuals to go with these three files.

Martin with the heated statue of Margaretha Krook

We hit Stockholm on foot that evening, unfortunately after it had turned a bit damp. Among the more unique sculptures on this walk, Margaretha Krook's life-size bronze—standing on the corner outside Dramaten, the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Östermalm—is also a radiator. The sound of the circulating water resonates through the bronze, shiny from constant touching.

The recording has a high-pitched whine I haven't managed to identify. It's persistent though not entirely objectionable. The normalized file is filtered aggressively to remove it and emphasize the bass resonances.

A bronze horse in Stockholm

This bronze horse is one of a magnificent pair guarding an open square downtown. I'll try to unearth some more information about the specific location later. The sound of tires on the wet pavement nearby is picked up very clearly in these recordings.

A seated nude tucked between a restaurant and an apartment building

Recording this seated nude, I was struck by the sound of footsteps resonating in the cavity. Martin and I were the only ones visible on the street, and I imagined a staircase in one of the nearby buildings as the source.

An allegorical figure at the base of the statue of Gustav II Adolf

In front of the Royal Swedish Opera (Kungliga Operan) is an imposing monument to Gustav II—King Gustav III founded the opera company, but this building is a century younger—in the middle of its own rotunda. This was a fine example of how difficult it is to actually get a recording of an elevated equestrian bronze, but with a consolation prize in this case of several outsize figures near the base of the pedestal.

Lions guard the approach to the palace

Not far from the Opera building is a broad bridge over water leading towards the Royal Palace. The bridge is flanked by a pair of rather tired-looking lions. These smaller bronzes have a predictably higher resonant pitch.

A modernist rooster

By the end of the evening I must admit to being thoroughly lost. We stumbled upon this odd rooster—it is hard to tell whether it is a one-legged bird, or the right leg is just flung back as it runs—which gave us this recording of filtered pedestrian conversation and street noise.

June 10, 2010

Befrielsen by Olof Hellström in Uppsala

Our one notable capture in Uppsala was Olof Bernhard Hellström's Befrielsen (Liberation!), a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King. Once you recognize the sonic potential of large bronze vessels, something like this seems made for sound. The two massive fists are posed two-thirds of the way up separate bars and can just be reached from the ground. And because of their unique shapes, the tones are subtly different. (For another sculptural example, see Listening to Jun Kaneko.)


All audio files on this page Cc by sa 80x15.png 2010 D A Ayer.

Photos this page ©2010 Martin Hatas except as marked. Used with permission.