The “Amplified Fence” makes birds landing on a wire sound like something from an alien sci-fi

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For those of us who shoot video, we know what an important element audio is to the overall production. Often we’ll set up elaborate recording setups with shotgun mics all pointed at our subject or we’ll record sounds to add later in post to really sell an effect.

But what musician Graeme Leak has done goes far beyond that. He’s attached a couple of contact microphones to either end of a 50-metre long high-tensile fence wire to record the noise of birds landing on and shuffling around the wire on the way to the bird table. And it sounds absolutely incredible. Along with filmmaker Hazel Palmer we get to see and hear that surreal beauty.

The Amplified Fence is part of EweTube: An Infinite Eco-Opera, which is described as a “collection of bespoke environmental instruments played by animals and natural forces”. It’s fascinating to hear these sounds in a new way, and Graeme talks us through how the Fence forks, along with a couple of his other enviro-instruments in this video.

The noise captured for the film reminds me of the noise the ice of a frozen lake makes when you skim small stones across it. It has that open, echoey feeling to it. But this is more melodic, somehow. It has a very unique quality to it, and when you see the birds of different sizes land on it, move about along it and peck at it, you really do hear the differences that they all make.

The sounds that are out there in the world can often be very strange indeed, especially if one chooses to listen to them in a new way. And creating audio rigs like those Graeme has made definitely lets you hear them in a new way!

You can find out more about EweTube on Graeme’s website.

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