DL0118 Downtown Los Angeles Ambisonic Library Vol 1
This has been a dream of mine for a long time. The opportunity came after I purchased a Soundfield ST450. Finally, I decided to build a library of Downtown Los Angeles specific sounds. This was not something entirely new to me, as I had captured sounds from downtown before. Therefore, I was aware of the unique challenges DTLA presents. There are always acoustic events that are difficult to mask or avoid. My ultimate goal was to capture a complete picture of all the distinct areas that make up DTLA.
With everything in life, we approach a challenge by setting goals. My goal was simple on paper – to capture sounds from all the major districts in downtown LA. It sounds simple, right? I would just try to go everywhere and record everything that sounds interesting. Except in reality, it didn’t quite work out like that. I didn’t want to be driving all day from point to point (hello LA traffic!). I also viewed this project as an adventure and a chance to explore places most people don’t normally go. That meant going down dodgy alleys, walking miles down active train tracks, or jumping fence to get into the Los Angeles river… all of which I don’t recommend people doing. It is actually fairly dangerous!
My pre-production planning consisted of hours of map surveying. Once I found a possible location, I would then assess whether it would be suitable for capturing sounds. I needed to look at all the variables that may present a less than ideal recording environment. The most significant variables included: proximity to busy streets, airplane flight paths, the amount of people in the area, and day versus night environment.
The first day of the project I parked my car near the Los Angeles Convention Center and headed out from there on foot. First, I traversed the South Park area and found some interesting spots to stop and record. From there, I continued to make my way through Downtown Center and on to the Civic District. During the work week, those areas are difficult to capture sounds without experiencing disruptions that make the recording useless. At the end of the day, I trekked back home to review and inventory my recordings. After listening to them, it gave me a better understanding of what to expect from future sessions.
That first day of recording consisted of 12 miles of walking. With about 10 field sessions, I averaged about 8-10 miles of walking each session. In Los Angeles people rarely choose walking over driving a car. This is very understandable; LA is a large city that covers a vast area. However, when walking, you get a very intimate perspective of of the city that you don’t normally see while driving. While walking through all these distinct neighborhoods and communities, I got a glimpse into all the different facets of life. From busy professionals working in the downtown high rises to people living in extreme poverty, and everyone else in between just trying to reach their own goals. The lower socioeconomic parts of downtown were the most visually interesting to me. The line between everyday life and decay blur before our eyes. These areas are prevalent throughout LA but they are also places many people try to avoid, if possible. I tried to capture the sounds that encompass the tension and grit of these environments.