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8.30 pm – What does the sound of the River Elbe look like?

13-2 SpectrogramA simple evening field recording next to the river Elbe, sitting on the bank and listening to the boats pass by – surely one of the most typical sounds of Hamburg and one which, listening to it now, takes me right back to those moments.

Here’s long-time Cities and Memory contributor Dan Tapper’s take on what he heard when he listened to this recording:

“My remix of Cities and Memory’s recordings taken on the River Elbe, Hamburg looks at creating subtle rhythms from the sounds of the river and the more industrious activity taking place. The rhythms are created through the combination of a number of short motifs selected from the source field recording; assortments of combinations between these motifs creates the illusion of a large and evolving soundscape. Minimal processing is used on some of the recordings to emphasise  rhythmic and textural qualities.

“I began work on the piece without reading the contextual information and images provided alongside the recordings. I made the conscious decision to exaggerate parts of the composition, evoking sinister qualities of the deep. Upon completion I compared the composition with the contextual information and I was interested to find that the river is home to a number of large cranes and busy docks — something I didn’t consciously pick up in the field recording. In my mind the emphasis I put on the darker/more sinister elements in my composition fits the image rather well.

“On a separate note, I found that when I compared the spectrogram of my composition to the image of the River Elbe there were a number of similarities. The rhythmic structures were similar to the cranes in the image and the less constant higher frequency material brought to mind the light rain present.”

City version:


Memory version: