PuSh Blog

When ‘bird by bird,’ is ‘wave by wave’: sound editing PuSh Walks

January 25, 2021

Written by Ashley Daniel Foot.

Walter Murch, the Oscar-winning godfather of modern sound design said in an interview that “we hear, much more than reptiles or birds. We cover around 10 octaves of sound.” The idea that even silence can cue us and guide us is also fascinating: 

So it was that I approached the challenge of working with the talented artists who shared their gifts for the Push Walks audio series.

Each walk has been carefully designed and crafted by the artists to not only reflect their preoccupations and interests as artists, but to let listeners have a chance to understand more about the way that physical location can inform who we are as people. 

The idea of walking – which has been around since as long as there have been humans – as a way to more deeply explore the nature of our creativity and thoughts; either, as a way to unlock an idea or develop a concept is also one that is very familiar to me. As a young child, I would walk for many kilometres along the beaches of Tofino or in the wilds of New Zealand — and the ideas and concepts, song lyrics, fragments of future creative works, and reflections on things past all toiled and troubled around my head. Even today, a walk to Maplewood Flats on Vancouver’s North Shore, the path around Granville Island along False Creek to Charleson Park, across the Cowichan Bay Estuary on Vancouver Island, or along Iona Beach‘s deceptively long causeway are some of my most cherished paths to walk again and again.

Each PuSh Walk would start with a talk, usually over Zoom, in which I would get to ask the artist questions about their practice and vision for how a walk in their neighbourhood might help an audience deepen their understanding of the artist’s craft. Speaking with renowned composer Caroline Shaw about the quality of old tape recordings and then taking some of those recordings and placing them into the sound mix for our episode on Graveyards and Gardens – the multidisciplinary work Shaw created with dance artist Vanessa Goodman was particularly rewarding. 

Hearing Ralph Escamillan order a Bola-Bola Bun from New Town Bakery made me want to do the same — audio is a  powerful motivator!

It would all come together using my audio editor of choice, Hindenburg Journalist — and with each editing session you could see the story emerging in audio waveforms

A snapshot of a small segment of our PuSh Walk featuring Caroline Shaw and Vanessa Goodman from the software used to create the episode, Hindenburg Journalist. 

Editing the audio of PuSh Walks was incredibly rewarding and also immensely challenging. Finding the right balance between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds was not always easy — but I believe that the small glimpses into the creative processes that PuSh Walks offers is a small gift for our socially distanced moment. I had great fun editing these — and I hope you enjoy listening to them and walking with them! 

Listen now

Ashley Daniel Foot is a sound editor, communications professional, and singer based on Vancouver Island. His audio work has appeared on CBC Radio, Radio Canada International, and beyond. Find out more at ashleyfoot.ca