To Make Sound Art You Just Need a Recorder

Dictaphone, cassette recorder, microcassette recorder, digital voice recorder, smartphone. That’s it. Hit record, make sound.

These are the fundamentals I have to remind myself of every so often, when I get too obsessed with fidelity and having really good microphones and recording with many more bits and samples. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with quality, until it gets in the way of actually making anything.

To help with the techno-cleanse I visit the website of artist Hal McGee, HalTapes. McGee has been at it since the 80s, using whatever recording means are at his disposal. He neither fetishes the lo-fi and lo-tech, nor lets it get in his way.

Just check out his latest album, “This Is What 60 Sounds Like,” which he calls, “dictaphone assemblage audio folk art.” It contains,

sounds from my daily life
including family and co-workers
participants at Stipulation Fest on January 13th
and at my Twin Peaks Party on the 27th
circuit bent Casio SK-1 and abandoned piano
and spoken words extracted from books I read

recorded on four Sony ICD-PX470 digital voice recorders and a Sony M-470 microcassette recorder. By my count that’s about $250 worth of gear, at most.

Go forth, record and create.

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