Litter Collecting – Sounds

In order to begin the project, the first thing that was needed was sound. With litter/rubbish being the album’s sound source, an adventure to collect various objects and scrap began. To start a sound bank, litter around the house was collected (plastic bottles, glass, tin cans, drink containers, crisp packets, cardboard, polystyrene cups, paper, plastic bags). Various textures and sonic characteristics were captured with the help of a Zoom H1 and variety of ways creating sound. This includes ways such as modifying the formation of objects such as plastic bottles and dragging different textured scraps across each other. By bending the plastic bottle and combining surfaces of divergent objects, it concluded new textualized sounds. The structure of the Zoom H1 also had a big play in the detailed recordings with the Stereo X-Y microphone mode, picking up an intricate stereo image. The X/Y mode captures a detailed stereo imaging due to the microphones’ position as both microphone’s grill are angled towards each other but without touching, being between 90° and 135° (Huber and Runstein, 2016). The adventure of recording then expanded into a new environment to collect litter sounds, the great outdoors. One particular sound was an empty bottle that collected rain drops, and when shaken, transformed into a maraca-like instrument. The advents of outside shows a theme of Bricolage, which is a technique that will be used throughout this project. The concept of Bricolage is inspired by the do-it-yourself attitude, creating an end result from objects of various odds and ends (Dezeuze, 2008). Bricolage carries the theme of recycling objects and providing them a new purpose, similar to how litter and rubbish is being treated within this project.  


Maraca-like water bottle

The results from the Zoom H1 were pleasant, capturing particularly detailed sonic characteristics and textures, formatted in different shapes and tones that resemble percussion-like instruments to atmospheric sounds. Yet with these results, there was still a drive for a more complex, surreal collection of recordings. This was when contact microphones were introduced to the project. Contact microphones are unique in the way they work as they need to be in contact with an object and pick the sound through vibrations, capturing a dry, unnatural recording compared to a standard studio microphone (Nielsen, 2011). With using and placing a contact microphone on objects such as glass bottles, they are heard in a new way. It captured the vibrations of the bottle and any contact surrounding the object, leading to a collection of surreal, heavily atmospheric recordings. With the use of contact microphones, it has help create an unnatural, detailed collection of recordings which allows people to focus on the sound rather than the object that created the sound. The usage and outcome of using contact microphones show similar themes to the term objet sonore, a term coined by Pierre Schaeffer. This term refers to focusing on the sound for what it is, rather than the context it is placed in (Bick, 2008).


Korg CM-200 attached to a glass bottle being scraped by a milk bottle top

As of now numerous of techniques and equipment have been used to capture complex recordings of litter and rubbish, helping this project construct a healthy sound bank that can be visited when compositions start or when a sound is needed. Aforementioned techniques will continuously be used throughout this project alongside new ones to help expand the sample bank that is the core of this project.



Bick, A. (2008) silent listening [Online]. Available at (Accessed 28 December 2016).  

Dezeuze, A. (2008) ‘Assemblage, Bricolage, and the Practice of Everyday Life’, Art Journal, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 31-37.

Huber, D. and Runstein, E. R. (2016) Modern Recording Techniques, 7th edn, Massachusetts, Focal Press.   

Nielsen, T. (2011) Tim Nielsen Special: On Microphone Addiction [Online]. Available at (Accessed 10 January 2017).

Author: Gloom (UK)

Third year music production student from Bristol.

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