A Memory of Pittsburgh Bells

October 26, 2017 3:07 PM

So, about 15 years ago, I had the experience which this audio attempts to re-create.

So, about 15 years ago, I had the experience which this audio attempts to re-create. I was going to college at the University of Pittsburgh. Between classes I was walking around downtown when I thought I heard bells, totally randomly. I legit couldn't tell if I was hallucinating or not. They seemed to come from nowhere.

I walked up to one of those 1920's buildings, all marble inside. The bells were louder, but still distant. I climbed the stairs and they got louder, until I got to the third floor and came to the open door of a music class. 20 or so students all had one or more bells, all playing together with their eyes closed.

I stood there listening, feeling like I was intruding, until they ended their piece. The teacher noticed me and came out to tell me about it all, and invite me to take the class. I moved to a different city later that year.

posted by odinsdream (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

This is cool.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:44 PM on October 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Used this on this month's podcast!
posted by cortex at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2017

AWw thanks!
posted by odinsdream at 2:05 PM on November 1, 2017

i loved this track! from the early ambience onward. it started out staccato, alerted my attention and then put me in a dreamy mood. (and when i was making radio, i would have been delighted to find a track like this to use also!)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 12:56 PM on November 3, 2017

posted by odinsdream at 2:44 PM on November 3, 2017

My brain just started to weave together some random movie scene. Did you do all the foley effects?

Also, ahhh, Pittsburgh. Just the place to have weird bell sounds come from nowhere. That's a beautiful and strange city. (I wrote a surreal song called Schenley Park when I was a teenager.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:02 PM on November 5, 2017

Wondering if the piece you heard was that abstract. Also how did you record this? It really does come across as a field recording.

I've started to make more use of bell patches, picking one per album. On Creature Of Habit, posted serially to MeFi music, it was a Gamelan patch, on Solar Eclipse (one just posted) it was Glockenspiel. Along with other recurring sounds, this helps create a sense of ensemble and continuity.
posted by AppleSeed at 6:16 AM on November 13, 2017

I made this while I was sick in bed one morning on Reason 10 with a bell synth instrument played with my laptop keyboard and run through a filter or two. The real piece was pretty damn abstract. This recreation doesn't do it justice really, it was super eerie and drifted in and out of organisational structure.

The Foley effects come from sampling random YouTube videos. I had intended to go out and capture them myself but, again with the sickness and in-bed-ness. So there's a walk in a street (actually in Pittsburgh near the real location) and standing in a cathedral and some walking up stairs and through doorways, I think I used like eight different videos?

All of that was mixed with care to try and simulate the actual experience, with hearing low frequency outside from a distance, etc.
posted by odinsdream at 6:14 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

this is cool, reminds me of one of my first experiences hearing music that really used the foley idea - I think it was an old Tortoise song that had street sounds, walking noises, a match lighting, etc. nicely done! I wonder what the original weird abstract bell piece was?
posted by gorbichov at 1:30 PM on November 17, 2017

I'm fairly certain it was an intentionally abstract piece.
posted by odinsdream at 1:43 PM on November 17, 2017

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