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Entries in Ice (2)


Underneath the Ice

In the dead of winter I was up up north staying at a family cottage and on the second day I was there it was extremely warm.  Well, extremely warm for northern Ontario in January, the temperature popped up above zero and the sun was out in full force.  The river was frozen solid but the full day of warmth melted a layer off the ice leaving about an inch of water on top.  Then when night fell the temperature changed quickly and severely as a cold front entered the area, plummeting everything back far below zero in what seemed like just a few minutes.  In these situations the ice makes crazy sounds as it freezes and shifts.  I was hoping to get out on the lake and get some stereo recording of these sounds but the wind was just too unforgiving and even with my blimp the wind noise was too loud to get any usable recordings of the ice.  But luckily I had brought my Hydrophone, underwater microphone.

After everyone else had gone to bed, I headed out on to the frozen river looking for a crack I could drop the hydrophone into, hoping that maybe I could get some of the huge ice shifting sounds from underneath and avoid the wind altogether.  The ice was very thick, more then 6 inches, so it took lots of roaming around in the pitch black night, before I found a good crack with a small hole just barely big enough to get the hydrophone through and immediately found I could hear some crazy sounds. 

This is a picture of the crack in the ice with the hole and the hydrophone's cable coming up out of the ice.


I was hoping to get big, low end booms of the ice cracking but what I ended up getting was the opposite, tiny sounds of the water in the immediate area of the microphone cracking and popping as it froze.  I left the hydrophone in the ice for about 45 minutes and got a whole lot of silence but here is a clip of about 8 different sections where the ice came to life with crackles and pops.

I also took some time to grab some blocks of ice near the shore and smash them on the ice surface above the where I was recording.  It was so cold and I had been out on the river for such a long time by this point that I was having trouble fidgeting with record levels on the gear because my fingers were starting numb up a bit.  This did not really work out as I had hoped as the sounds are not that interesting, but something that is kind of cool is simply the sounds of my footsteps walking around above the mic.  They could be useful someday.  Here is a clip of a bunch of impacts followed by footsteps at the end.


Ice Impacts Recorded from Below Surface by azimuthaudio



Icelandic Ice Hits

In 2010 I went on an amazing trip to Iceland and I was lucky enough to grab some sounds on my travels.  I am going to be peppering these recordings into this blog every now and then because there is just too much stuff to put in one post.  So here goes part one of my Audible Icelandic Adventures:

About half way through my trip I went on a glacier hike on the Sólheimajökull Glacial Tongue near Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park.  Even after hearing things pronounced many times I never could quite pronounce Icelandic words properly, but it was an awesome site to behold.  Located along the south east shore of the island the glacial tongue is where the glacier rolls down from its highest points in the mountains towards the ocean shore.  The hike starts at sea level and goes up about an hours hike when you start really seeing the magical neon blue ice formations.  

The ice has a covering of dirt and ash but it is still breath taking (after the hike to get up there I mean that literally).

The ice shifts and water carves out crevasses so at all times you have to watch your step.


At one point, while my fellow hikers were all taking a break, I slipped over a ridge and pulled out my handheld digital recorder to try to get some recordings of the crampons and the ice axe interacting with the hundreds of feet of ice I was standing on.  Sadly I was not in the mood to drag my full rig up the glacier (I know where is the dedication to my craft?!) but the little zoom recorder I did bring held out ok.  
Fist up I tried some foley walking with the crampons on the ice, I got some single hits as well as paced walking and some erratic running/scrambling foot sounds.  Sadly the wind was pretty strong up there and not having a full windshield kit for the recorder made it tough to get very long takes without wind blasts but I got a couple.  
Next up was stabbing the ice with the ice axe, a climbing tool I had with me.  The first few attempts were tough as I had to get the recorder pretty close to get the crunchy detailed sound i was hoping for but at the same time far enough away so that the chips of ice that were sent flying upon impact did not just bang off the microphone making audible spikes.  After a bunch of experimenting I was able to find a middle ground and started flailing away at the ice with my axe.  
On the hike up I noticed the pick axe had a great metallic ring to it when dragged, so I tried to get some of that sound as well.  I laid the axe down on the ice and then dragged it holding just the very end of the handle to get some nice ice scrapes.  I also got some axe drops onto the hard ice as it bounced around.
Take a listen.

Icelandic Ice hits by azimuthaudio


After the hike we went down to the shore where chunks of the glacier break off and float out into the north Atlantic sea.  It was a truly amazing day.