one minute vacations: year one one minute vacations: year two one minute vacations: year three one minute vacations: year four one minute vacations: current

one-minute vacations: year five

What follows are the fifth year's worth of one-minute vacations.

If you like what you hear, I encourage you to purchase a copy of the compilation CD that collects these recordings: all profit from the sale of the CD (about 85% of the cost) goes to charity.

Sales of these compilations continue; the next check will probably go to Doctors Without Borders.

Deepest gratitude to the year's contributors, who shared their recordings with us, and who agreed to donate the profits of their work to charity.


'He sat for a moment half dreaming, listening
to the noise of water, the whisper of dark trees,
the crack of stone, and the vast waiting silence
that brooded behind all sound...'
(J.R.R. Tolkein)
january 8, 2007 1.5 MB Yet England is not always dancing, we are reminded by Christopher Etchells: 'A lone trumpeter plays the Last Post on a lovely, sunny autumn day, cold with blue skies: Remembrance Sunday in Winchcombe in the Cotswolds. Hundreds of men, women, and children from town turn out each year in the main square for this remembrance of those who died (mainly) in World Wars I and II. In my opinion the whole ceremony is a bit of an uneasy mixture of military ceremony and religion; but regardless we should be thankful to those who died so we can live in freedom today — at least that's what I tell my children, who however I have not yet persuaded to attend. I'm always moved by the reading of names on the cenotaph; the list seems to go on forever yet the same family names survive in Winchcombe today. Then of course there is the Last Post: there's something especially poignant about this piece and it never fails to remind me of the waste and futility of war. If you listen carefully you can hear the church clock striking twelve towards the end of the piece. Lest we forget... Recorded with a Sony ICD-SX35 recorder.'
january 1, 2007 1 MB Let's make merry to welcome the new year, courtesy today's contributor, Tom Robinson, who writes, 'In St Osyth, a small village in the north east of the County of Essex, the local Morris Men (folk dancers) come out of the local pub, stop the traffic outside the pub for a short time, and proceed to Morris dance on Boxing Day. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day; in England it is a Bank Holiday (public holiday) when people make merry after the more formal day before. After onlookers and pub customers are encouraged to donate to charity and, the dancing starts.... Recorded with Sony RH910 minidisc recorder and head-worn, home made mics consisting of a pair of Panasonic capsules fastened to spectacles.'
december 25, 2006 1.4 MB Christmas comes but once a year, but voodoo ice cream but once a lifetime... though perhaps not if you're globetrotting Lena Strayhorn and Chris Miller, who write of this week's vacation, 'An ice cream vendor's plaintive horn cuts through the drums, shakers, bells, shouts and chants at the Voodoo Festival in Benin, in west Africa. Recorded as we wandered from tent to tent to hear each of the many groups, who had come from all over the region — throughout Benin, Togo and Nigeria, play their own particular style of voodoo trance music and dance and sing all day. It was a very hot afternoon... perfect for ice cream!'
december 18, 2006 1.4 MB As many of us rush towards year's end, how does a warm and (nearly) silent night sound? Field recordist and sound designer Jeremiah Moore sets the scene for today's vacation: 'We're in the high desert in the northwest part of New Mexico on a temperate July night. The crickets are lovely and shifting, and there is a shushing roar of distant traffic, which sounds not-so-distant in the quiet desert. You can tell how detailed the crickets would be further out into the desert! Alas, that will have to be on another trip. Recorded with a RØDE NT4 stereo microphone and Sound Devices recorder.'
december 11, 2006 1.4 MB A month ago in Italy, Rome beat Milan 2-1 despite the latter's home advantage at San Sira stadium. Stephen Piccolo was there recording the [football a.k.a. soccer] game for us with his pocket-sized M-Audio Microtrack 2496, using its built-in microphones. As he says, 'Very discreet... the stadium's no place for big gear!'
december 4, 2006 1.4 MB Let's go dancing with field recordist Danny Meltzer, who writes, 'During my travels in South Africa in spring of 2006, I visited Tamfafa’s Shebeen [bar] in Imizamo Yethu Township, near Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town down the Cape Peninsula on the way to the Cape of Good Hope. I spent an evening dancing and getting to know some of the people who live there; this is the sound of the jukebox and young folks cheering as some of their rank breakdance before we have dinner. Recorded in quasi-binaural style [so use headphones for best results -Aaron] with a pair of Shure WL183 microphones, a Sound Professionals Low-Noise Preamp, and a Fostex FR2 recorder.'
november 27, 2006 1.1 MB Today's vacation comes to us from Thomas Sturm, who writes, 'While walking through Chinatown in San Francisco a few weeks ago late on a foggy night, I captured two Chinese operas being performed in neighboring houses. It was one of those small magical moments when San Francisco seems more Chinese than China ever was... Recorded with a Canon Powershot S2IS [camera] and the built-in stereo microphones.'
november 20, 2006 2.3 MB 'The sounds of baboons who have invaded our campsite in Marsabit, northern Kenya... or have we invaded theirs? They arrived in the middle of the night, and any thoughts of leaving our tent to use the nearby bathroom were instantly dismissed! Recorded with an Edirol R-09 with the built in mic in July, 2006.' So writes today's contributor, Kevin O'Connell, who I talked shop with last night after premiering a new piece. [As yesterday was also my birthday, I consider this my present! -Aaron]
november 13, 2006 1.1 MB Autumn rain arrived last night, making today the perfect occasion to indulge my melancholy, courtesy of Samantha van Gerbig, who writes: 'What sounds like a piano lesson, recorded outside a private residence just south of the famous Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. The overwhelming buzz in the background is the sound of cicadas. A single car passed me while I stood on the side of the very narrow lane with my camera in held up in the air... Captured with the sound recording feature on my Nikon Coolpix S1 digital camera.' [This is another example of how low fidelity can add to, rather that detract from, the emotional force of a recording... -Aaron]
november 6, 2006 1.6 MB Of today's vacation regular listener Christian Cochran writes, 'I go to Chapter Camp in Lake Champion, NY every May. This year, as I was recording the lake while sitting on the dock, a woman walking down the beach started playing the violin. Though this recording is only a reminder of my experience — to hear the violin you must listen carefully — it's my all-time-favorite of the recordings I made at the Camp. Recorded on my PAC Mate, a Pocket PC for the blind, with its built-in mono mic.' [Personally I find the artifacts in this recording add to, rather than distract from, this vacation; for me the effect is not unlike finding a sun-bleached Polaroid of a long-ago summer... -Aaron]
october 30, 2006 420 KB If last week's vacation had you watching your feet, this one will have you watching the skies... Halloween swoops in with this contribution from Robin Carter, who takes us to 'A maternal roost of the Southeastern Myotis (Myotis austroriparius) in a hollow tree, near the River Trail at Congaree National Park, Richland County, South Carolina. A graduate student at Clemson University, Jessica Lucas, showed me the colony, and I returned a few days later to record it. This is what you hear squatting close to the base of the roost-tree; I held a mic just inside the hollow — the bats were several meters up, inside the tree. Recorded on July 28, 2006, using a Sennheiser ME 62 microphone and a Marantz PMD 660.' Robin notes that recording was not filtered or pitch-shifted; you're hearing only what was audible to the naked ear. When this recording debuted on the Naturerecordists mailing list, member Ralph Arwood added, 'What you are hearing are the social calls and the movement of the bats; the frequencies that we can hear do not work well for echolocation. When echolocating Myotis austroriparius will typically be using the 40 to 70 kHz range.' [Human hearing generally reaches only around 20 kHz -Aaron]
october 23, 2006 1.4 MB Halloween approaches, so how about something a little... creepy? This week's astonishing vacation comes to us courtesy of sound artist Adriano Zanni, who just today released a new album. About this recording, Adriano writes, 'Ants in the Italian Alps in a high-altitude forest at 1800 meters, near Cortina d'Ampezzo. I think these pictures explain how I made this recording better than words! Recorded with a Sony PCM-D1 DAT deck and a contact microphone, a piezo-electric element that picks up vibration from whatever it comes in "contact" with... such microphones are often used to directly mic instruments and are a favorite of experimental sound artists and phonographers.'
october 16, 2006 1.4 MB It's getting rainy where I live, so let's head inside. Today, chain-tape collective member Anders Östberg takes us to 'Faktotum: an experimental workshop in Eskilstuna, Sweden, where you can find out what centrifugal force is and how hydraulics work. Play noughts-and-crosses against a robot. Compete in a locking device labyrinth. Examine mechanics, energy transformations, transmission and much more... Recorded April 9, 2006 on a Edirol R-1 with internal mics.'
october 9, 2006 945 KB 'On a vacation to Zion National Park in Utah, a side trip found us camped on a sandbar next to a creek in Kolob Canyon, about six miles off the road. Though you can't tell from this photo, we were in a deep river valley between cliffs not far from Kolob Arch, the world's tallest free-standing arch. Crickets surrounding us began to call from all sides at dusk, and frogs (who made up for their lack of numbers with sheer croak intensity) joined in after nightfall. Long after we intruding humans ceased our activity, the river, insects, and amphibians were joined by a night bird... Recorded in uncompressed PCM with a Sony HiMD MZ-M100 and a ECM-DS70P mic.' This bit of southwestern magic comes to us from percussionist Joshua Manchester.
october 2, 2006 1.8 MB Contributor Eisuke Yanagisawa recorded today's vacation while doing field work in Vietnam. He writes, 'Kon Tum is a small town in the central highlands of Vietnam, where many ethnic minorities including the Bahnar live. The Bahnar in Kon Tum are Catholic; in this recording the singing of their Easter ceremony is accompanied with gongs, bamboo xylophones, and so on. Their melody reminds me of the traditional music of the Okinawa islands in Japan's southeast... Recorded on April 15, 2006, with DPA 4060 miniature lavalier microphones, and an M-Audio Microtrack 2496.'
september 25, 2006 1.9 MB 'A typical morning soundscape in the very romantic and bohemian district of Lima, Peru, called Barranco, where there is a prevailing cry of doves throughout the morning. These relatively quiet streets are lined with colonial buildings which bear a gentle echo, and this being Lima there is the occasional dog walking by, and there is no time, ever, without the sound of traffic. Recorded with an Audiotechnica 822 mic on July 1, 2006.' So writes today's contributor, composer and sound artist Kathy Kennedy. [With apologies to Kathy, I must dedicate today's vacation to Ben and Shosho, who got engaged this weekend in a very romantic and bohemian way! -Aaron]
september 18, 2006 1.4 MB Summer's ending where I live, and with it long weekends such as this one, which we visit courtesy of contributor John Tenney: 'Wandering around, the smell of sizzling kielbasa was almost overwhelming. The background music was a cranked-up boombox with enough wow in the playback to make you seasick. But people were having a great time on Labor Day 2005 at the Polish-American Picnic, in Concord, California.'
september 11, 2006 1.5 MB A day for reflection: today David Drury takes us 'walking along the docks of a marina in Bangor, a small town outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The wind and a generator and the harbour birds wail a plaintive dirge over a delicate gamelan of ships' masts and tie rings... Recorded with an M/S microphone pair (Sennheizer MKH60 and MKH30) with a windshield, and a Tascam HD-P2 digital recorder at 24 bit resolution and a 44.1 kHz sampling rate.'
september 4, 2006 1.4 MB Today's contributor, sound artist and radio producer Etienne Noiseau, writes, 'This is summer fair Brussels at night. What interested me in this moment of soundscape was the odd, almost reversed-sounding screams... for reference, the speaker's last words are, "What are you saying, miss? Do you like the machine?... Miss, frankly?" Recorded with a Nagra Ares-BB+ CF recorder and Schoeps microphones in am ORTF configuration.'
august 28, 2006 1.5 MB 'Anyone who has vacationed in the far north woods is instantly brought back to that place just by hearing the calls of Common Loons, an eerie-sounding water bird that calls from dusk to early morning. The loon is so much of a water bird that it is incapable of standing erect or taking off from land; even in the water, it takes 80 to 600 feet to get into the air, and as it takes flight it slaps water with its wings the whole way. This is the sound of a raft of eight socializing adult loons ending their get-together to disperse back to their own territories. Recorded in northern Wisconsin on June 22, 2006, in the early morning.' So writes today's contributor, the amazingly resourceful and dedicated nature recordist Rich Peet.
august 21, 2006 1.2 MB Today's vacation comes to us courtesy Sean O'Neill, who writes, 'On a bright spring day, I walk through the main square of the "old town" in Warsaw, Poland, where narrow cobblestone streets and intricately decorated buildings are convincingly reconstructed to replicate the layout of the pre-war city... In the center on the square, alongside restaurant patios and artists' paintings, a man plays a finely-carved wooden crank organ. People walk by, some stop to listen for a minute, and for a small fee some have their picture taken next to him. Recorded on April 2, 2006, using a Sharp MT770 minidisc recorder and binaural microphones.'
august 14, 2006 1.4 MB From a French church to an Indian one: this week Kath O'Donnel takes us 'inside the Bahá'í Lotus Temple in Delhi, India. Sounds never cease in Delhi — they're as omnipresent as the traffic and the people — so finding a quiet spot is like an oasis. This building has amazing acoustics — the sounds of coughs and whistles vibrate through the space. It was a really nice place to sit and relax on a very hot afternoon... Recorded using a Sony MD and a cheap pc mic on April 30, 2006.'
august 7, 2006 1.7 MB Today we thank Geoffroy Montel who writes, 'My old friend Stéphane Fillod had the key to the church of a very small village, Villechantria, Jura, in the east of France. On December 31st, 2005, he let me play the old church harmonium when I visited; I brought my brand-new HiMD recorder along with my trusty Audio Technica AT822 microphone and recorded for half an hour while I played... it was delicious! Then we went upstairs and there was the church's bell and its mechanism... as it was nearly 6 p.m. I recorded it and this recording is what you hear. And you know what? The day after I left, I realized on the train that I recorded nothing but this bell! I must have left the HiMD in pause mode while playing the harmonium! Damn Sony HiMD, they sound very good but the interface is nowhere as good as my old Aiwa AM-F70... also there's some hiss on the recording because I set the level way too low.' [Ah, the quiet sorrows of the field recordist, I know them well! -Aaron]
july 31, 2006 1.4 MB Today's vacation might take our mind off one Lebanon while we visit another: 'The local 4-H county fair in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, the heart of the Amish country. As I walk into the rooster and rabbit house, the local rock band begins playing Weezer’s 'Beverly Hills' and the roosters respond in kind. Standing in the doorway of the pavilion, I hear the interaction between these two — roosters and rock band — as a natural dub. Recorded on July 23 with Shure WL-183 lavalier microphones arranged in an A-B pattern and a Sony RH-10 minidisc.' So writes today's contributor, Scott Sherk.
july 24, 2006 1.4 MB Cave Swallows recorded this past week at Calrsbad Caverns in the southeast corner of New Mexico: at the mammoth 'natural' entrance to the cave, swallows dart and whirl in a never-ending display of aerial virtuosity, chirping enthusiastically apparently for the pleasure of it. At dusk the night shift takes over: hundreds of thousands of bats famously pour out of the cave to range for miles in search of insects. This recording was made a few hundred yards into the cave where the birds roost. I set the gain on my old Sony MZ-R37 too low so the hiss in this recording is rather high I'm afraid. [Aaron]
july 17, 2006 1.4 MB Today's vacation comes courtesy of Murray Oates, who brings us the 'soothing gentle sound of a stream, trickling like a room of ticking clocks. Flies buzz around, the river Bovey flows nearby (faint white noise), wind gently rustles leaves, bird song — cooing pigeon and chirruping birds — am in a wood in the heart of Devon, UK — on the edge of Dartmoor — just a four-inch-deep ten-inch-wide stream — in an oak wood with some bog and moss, Used to live near there and walked in the valley for years. Soothes my spirit. Bronze Age settlements are on the hilltops. Recorded using a stereo pair of Studio Project C4 omnidirectional condenser mics, a Sound Devices preamp (beautiful audio quality) and a Marantz PMD660, on Saturday, June 18, 2006. OS grid ref: SX 76410 81391'
july 10, 2006 1.4 MB 'A crisp cool and bright autumnal Saturday afternoon in Konya, which is known as the spiritual heart of Turkey. It's the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and families are at a mosque which is broadcasting Qu'ranic recitation before the mid-afternoon prayer. This particular mosque is unique as it contains the tomb of the mentor of that giant of Persian mystical poetry, Rumi. As I sat quietly in the sun I was transported into the world of child mobility: running, skateboarding and cycling. Recorded on October 8, 2005, with a Sony MZ-R90 minidisc and Soundman OKM II binaural mics.' So writes today's contributor, Matthew Sansom. [I spent last week with a Persian friend, so a nod to Rumi feels just right... -Aaron]
july 3, 2006 1.4 MB This week I'm meandering with a very old friend towards Chicago, where he's relocating. So how about a preview of his new hometown, courtesy self-described novice sound artist Suzanne Ritchie, who writes, 'This pedestrian tunnel under Lake Shore Drive in Chicago connects one park to a much larger one, Lincoln Park, and provides a conduit to the bike path that runs along Lake Michigan. I was walking in the tunnel when I suddenly noticed the hum of the traffic right above my head; I guess I often forget the sounds of traffic, even though I always hear it as I bike or walk around the city (I don't own a car). Recorded with a Sony MD recorder, which while not fancy does the trick and makes me pretty happy.'
june 26, 2006 275 KB Today we thank sound artist Brad Brace, who offers us 'a snippet from the Global Islands Project... specifically, island number three: Lamu, Kenya. Lamu is nearly languishing: while there are still more donkeys than people, the very recent import of a few motorcycles, USA-fear of Islam, and looming rumours of offshore oil-drilling may introduce changes to the hardy Island (yet again)... I like making long (hour+) recordings [webcast] that take-on a life-of-their-own.'
june 19, 2006 1.4 MB I've mentioned before that I'm never happier than when taking a train cross country; so might be Katherine Roolf, who writes of her contribution, 'A few weeks ago I took a train from Brussels to The Hague. The carriage was very full, and everyone seemed to be speaking a different language. There was a real air of conviviality; in this recording I love that it's difficult to tell which laugh goes with which conversation in which language: it's as though all the passengers were sharing one joke. Behind it all is the rumble of the train and the clatter of the carriage doors. Recorded with a Macintosh G4 Powerbook's internal mic.'
june 12, 2006 1.4 MB 'During the winter here in Linköping, Sweden, where I have lived since 1974, thousands of birds, jackdaws, gather in the trees for the night. For some of us at least this seems a reminder of Hitchcock's famous movie... in this recording you can hear in addition to the jackdaws the sound of a small carillon, the near-by church's five o'clock bells. Isn't this a wonderful kind of symphony? Such sound makes people stay outside to look upward for a while, to take a real vacation in the middle of everyday life.' I agree completely with these words from today's contributor, sound artist Wolfgang Peter Menzel.
june 5, 2006 1 MB If you've enjoyed many minutes here, you might find this week's vacation particularly satisfying... It comes to us from Kurt Tidmore, who writes, 'Stokes Clock & Watch Repair in Cork, Ireland, is a small old-fashioned shop where mechanical clocks from the last 200 years cover the walls and fill the floor. It's a specialized trade and very few people come in although they occasionally stop outside on McCurtain Street and peer through the window. Other than the faint murmur of passing traffic the only sound in the shop is the ticking and the marking of the hours and quarter hours by the old clocks. This is what 3 p.m. on Friday, June 2nd, sounded like.'
may 29, 2006 190 KB Leave the park and plunge underground (but not into the Underground) with today's contributor, Guven Witteveen, who writes of his short vacation, 'Subway lines in Seoul, Korea, use different melodies to announce the next stop. This particular one is identified by a birdsong, I wish I was birdsong-literate, but I can't tell you the bird's name! Maybe it's a local species? [Any ornithologists care to help? -Ed.] This was recorded in July 2005 using just the audio channel of my DV camcorder.'
may 22, 2006 1.8 MB For today's vacation we thank contributor Alan Bamford, who writes, 'I went to Ha Noi, Vietnam, for the second time in July, 2004, at the height of the monsoon and a school holiday. The buzz of scooters can be difficult to escape but somehow this snippet captures a relatively scooter-free moment. Not one without electricity though, as karaoke floats through the dripping rain out of the courtyard of an empty school near the Dong Xuan market on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Listening I pondered not for the first time how motor vehicles (especially scooters) have utterly transformed the urban soundfield, and I wondered what the older people thought about this: I wondered if the languid feel of this recorded moment conjured up a more relaxed time. Recorded with an Aiwa AM-F70 minidisc and a Sony ECM DS-70P mic.'
may 15, 2006 1.4 MB Cross town from last week to make it three-for-three in England. For this last stop we thank Justin Hardison, who writes, 'Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London, has been a place for very public debate since the 19th century and there is always a vast array of opinions and subject matter, as you can tell by this recording, in which American womanhood is challenged and defended... Recorded this past summer of 2005 with a Sony MS-907 mic and a minidisc recorder.'
may 8, 2006 1.6 MB Let's linger in England a bit longer, this week courtesy Alex Ellis, who writes, 'I always love the warm welcoming sound of pigeons, so I knelt down in Victoria Park in London and kept very still while lots of them came to meet me. As I recorded them a little child cried with excitement and her mother told her "Oh, pidgies!" At the end of the recording the little child jumps over and scares the pigeons away. You can also hear couples walking around, the water flowing in the canal, and many other birds twittering away. Recorded straight into my Olympus D-20 dictaphone with a binaural stereo headset from the Sound Professionals.'
may 1, 2006 810 KB For today's short but evocative vacation we thank Darren Giddings, who writes, 'Summer 2003: I travel to the neutral territory of Christchurch in Dorset, England, to meet, after a long period of tension, a girl I am much in unreciprocated love with. A quietly pleasant reunion is had. We walk out to Mudeford (pronounced muddy-ford) quay where I am struck by the sound of the pleasure boat masts and sails knocking against one another in the wind...'
april 24, 2006 1.4 MB Today's contributor, sound artist Gunnar Ström, instructs, 'Close your eyes and imagine an ancient marvel: a knight of King Arthur fighting with a malignant flame-throwing dragon... a mountain top, just above the city of Härnösand by the Baltic sea, Sweden... 7:05 p.m. in January... What you hear is the hillside interplay between a tall wind-power station and an old and shabby but well-tuned ski-lift. In the distance you can perceive sounds of a snow cannon, busy producing more of that white stuff... Though this recording is unedited, it is is an excerpt from a larger piece I made called "Movement of Time," which has not aired yet. It deals with the flow of life, starting off with a visit to the banks of the Ångermanälven (Angerman river); it blends sounds and voice-fragments from people longing to get away... and home. Recorded with a Sony TCD-D8 DAT and Sony ECM-959 microphone.'
april 17, 2006 1.6 MB Mea culpa! I delayed this week's vacation in anticipation of recording and sharing this bit of history: after a minute of silence, sirens wail in downtown San Francisco at 5:14 a.m. to commemorate the centennial of the 'Great Quake' of 1906 that destroyed most of the city through shaking and fire. I rose at the most uncharacteristic hour of 3:30 a.m. to attend a ceremony held at Lotta's Fountain on Market Street, where survivors of the earthquake and fire shared memories with the crowd, and antique fire engines and dignitaries paraded on the perimeter of a crowd sprinkled with attendees in period dress. [Aaron]
april 10, 2006 1.4 MB Today's vacation comes to us, with an economy of descriptive scene-setting, from contributor Nicole Margaretten, who writes, 'This is a plaza in Xilitla, Mexico, where swarms of screeching birds appear in the evening. Recorded in January, 2005, while sitting on a green bench.' Just so.
april 3, 2006 1.4 MB A bit more of India, since I can never hear enough; today's vacation comes to us from radio station WFUV's Tara Anderson who writes, 'I just returned from a two-week trip in India, where I stayed in Varanasi (formerly Benares), an ancient holy city on the Ganges. I went for the obligatory sunrise boat ride with all the other tourists to watch the sun come up on the dozens of temples that crowd the ghats (shore), and the city's residents and pilgrims going down to the water for baths both ritual and regular. I was there with a group of people who would absolutely never stop talking... until I asked them to be quiet for just one minute.'
march 27, 2006 1.5 MB More serendipitous music this week courtesy of contributor Daryl Richel, who writes, 'This water wheel being driven by a pair of bulls is a merry-go-round making its own music! About every ten seconds the wheel would make this sound, like a wine glass when you play it by running a wet finger along the rim. I don't know where the sound was coming from in the wheel, but the result really sounds like music to my ear. This was recorded near Gogunda, a village in Rajasthan in northwestern India. I used a set of binaural microphones and a Sony MZ-NF810 MD recorder.' [Like all binaural recordings, this one is best heard with headphones! -Aaron]
march 20, 2006 1.4 MB We're on the organ trail it seems. This week sound artist Michael Peters brings us sounds of an old-school one: 'The cathedral in Siena, Italy, recorded during summer of 2001: I had set up my Sony DAT Walkman to record the reverberant ambience of the cathedral's huge interior, which was filled with the sound of feet and voices of many tourists, when the organ unexpectedly began to play — one single note, sometimes squeaky and unstable, for a minute or two; then the next higher note, and so on... this continued for twenty minutes or so. The organ, according to a guide in the cathedral, was being repaired and tuned. I was delighted at this unexpected gift! The highlight of my visit was when an older American couple came to the information booth next to me and somberly asked the official, "is this music?" :)'
march 13, 2006 940 KB Today's vacation comes to us from Michiel de Boer, who writes, 'What you hear is the World Wind Organ in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. The sounds are generated by large pipes with holes in them (like flutes); when the wind blows they sound all the time. And because the organ stands right in front of the sea, waiting for wind isn't really an issue! I think it interesting that the direction and of course the speed of the wind determine the sound created. This particular recording was made on a summer evening after a beautiful sunset. Equipment used was a Sharp MD-DR470 minidisc recorder, a bass-filtering Visivox preamp, and an Audio Technica AT822 microphone with its standard windscreen. Blocking the wind with my body limited the wind rumble.'
march 6, 2006 1.4 MB Contributor Patrick Perdue takes us to a demolition: 'The Burlington Industries building, a rather unique six story steel structure, was imploded at 10 a.m. on May 23, 2005. There was a large turn-out for the event as a demolition like this had not occurred in Greensboro, NC, since 1971. I was standing with my mother (a former Burlington Industries employee) as close to the [safety] line as we could get; unfortunately, I wasn't too far from a rather annoying truck that wouldn't turn off its engine. Air horns warned of the impending implosion fifteen seconds before the demo team set off two hundred pounds of "bang." If you listen closely car alarms are faintly audible in the background just after the building starts to implode. The woman you hear trying to get her small kids to stay still was also the first to scream when the explosives went off. Recorded with a Sony MZ-R700 and an Audio Technica ATR-25 single-point stereo microphone, then compressed a bit to compensate for the loudness of the implosion itself.'
february 27, 2006 1 MB Revisiting today's vacation made contributor Yannick Franck hungry for patatas fritas and made him miss the sun on his skin. He explains, 'This is Campo del Principe, a park in Granada in Andalucia, Spain, as recorded with a minidisc recorder on a sunny afternoon in May 2005. I recorded this while sitting quietly in a sunny spot in a corner of the park, listening with headphones to the amplified ambient sounds of birds, children, and passing conversations. I was in the park after a nice meandering walk from uptown to downtown, during which I made a set of simple photographs of shadows on a long white wall. Perhaps because I'd applied my attention so acutely to that project, I was totally attentive to, and present to, the reality this recording documents. The experience was one of those moments in my life when I start to think that reality sometimes alters itself to accord with our frame of mind — an important concept for me now.'
february 20, 2006 1.4 MB Elaine Ho made today's vacation during the Chinese New Year's festival in Beijing, China. She writes, 'These are sounds that haven't been heard for the last twelve years in Beijing because of a ban on fireworks within the city limits — but recent changes in city legislation have now lifted the ban. The change was felt immediately this year's Lunar New Year's festival — everyone seemed to come outside to launch their own thunder and crackle! It created such a unique feeling — Beijing is usually quite an anonymous city and the sky overhead feels so wide — but through each pop and boom that night it seemed like you could identify the homes and personalities of everyone in the city, neighbours and friends alike. In the recording itself, I especially like the way the sparkler in my hands can almost be felt; and the girl's voice you hear talking (ha ha!) about handling firecrackers safely. Recorded on January 29th with a minidisc player and Sound Professionals in-ear binaural mics.' [Like last week's vacation, best heard with headphones. -Aaron]
february 13, 2006 1.4 MB For today's vacation, contributor Michael Bietenholz takes for a ride in a coco taxi. He explains, 'In Havana there are three-wheeled moped-taxis, much like the auto-rickshaws common in Asia. The Cuban version is called a coco taxi and is distinguished by its coconut-shaped fiberglass body. In this recording my partner Jennifer and I zoom along in one, down Havana's famous seaside Malecon on our way to the equally famous Coppelia ice-cream parlour. Fast, cheap, dirty and out of control!' Michael made this quasi-binaural recording with a homemade 'recording hat' featuring two built-in condenser mics and a minidisc recorder. [Being binaural-esque, it's best heard with headphones. -Aaron]
february 6, 2006 1.4 MB Today's contributor, Daniel Costello, says of his recording, 'This is the rocky shoreline of Isle au Haut, Maine. It's the sound of waves washing across a bedrock outcropping and then draining through a crack into a small pool at the crack's bottom. As each wave that comes in fills the crack, the draining stops for a moment, and then starts over. The results is cyclical, but since every wave is different, it isn't repetitive. Recorded with an Audio Technica AT-822 stereo mic and a minidisc recorder.'
january 30, 2006 1.4 MB Contributor Simon Hampson of Symbiosis Radio in Melbourne writes of today's vacation, 'I made this recording walking outside a family house in the town of Jasin in Melaka, Malaysia. Children can be heard walking along with me; and at the end of the recording hear the bells and faint drums of a monastery across the road. Recorded on the 26th of August, 2005, with Sound Professionals binaural mics and a Sony HiMD recorder.'
january 23, 2006 1.4 MB For today's vacation we thank Thomas Park (aka Mystified), who writes, 'The local Cuban deli is one of the greatest and most underrated attractions around my part of Saint Louis. People of many backgrounds gather here to discuss culture, politics, and other issues; to listen to authentic music; and, of course, to sample excellent Cuban cuisine. Personally, I like the chicken empanadas... I recorded this around noon on a Sunday afternoon, the restaurant's busy period, using a Sony MD-70 Minidisc recorder and an E-series microphone (some light EQ was added).'
january 16, 2006 1.5 MB I recorded today's vacation on a trip my wife Bronwyn and I took late last spring to Zion National Park in Utah. Hiking a narrow slot canyon in the late afternoon, we were surprised to hear polyrhythmic industrial drumming echoing through the sandstone walls. At the canyon bottom we found and recorded a dozen Canyon Tree Frogs ringing a steep-sided rock pool, singing into the shadows. We think this recording documents mating calls, since occasionally one frog would swim over and climb on top of another. The alarmed-sounding odd chirps between the staccato calls were made by the recipients of these affections; we think they're the 'release calls' male frogs make to tell other males that they're barking up the wrong tree... frog. [Aaron]

There are more: archives of the first, second, third, and fourth year; recent vacations are here.
You can also purchase compilations on CD; all profits go to charity!

One-minute vacation podcast beta (RSS2.0 with enclosures) podcast, write me if you have comments.

Cover art depicts Larnie Fox of the Crank Ensemble.