Tim Prebble – Sound Designer and Composer

Tim Prebble is a Field Recordist & Photographer, Sound Designer & Composer. His blogs at THE MUSIC OF SOUND and his project directory is here. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit.  I love getting lost and this book has been my constant travel companion throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Wide ranging in ideas, this is a great book to dip into – equal parts anecdotal & philosophical. What does it mean to be lost? What does the colour blue mean? What does it mean to be fully present?

The Potential for Change. As someone who is devoted to time based arts, I have a deep appreciation for change and the potential for change. Every photo attempts to freeze time, every time-lapse attempts to manipulate time and reveal hidden patterns which are usually invisible to the naked eye. Every sound and piece of music alters the listener, often overtly but sometimes change occurs without conscious awareness. Learning to read the potential for change and to put yourself in the path of interesting experiences is a vital & lifelong skill to be developed.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. This is a witty, insightful and inspiring book which is grounded in sage advice for anyone who considers creativity a vital part of their life, irrespective of the medium or form it takes.

Good things to watch.

Andy Goldworthy’s Rivers and Tides, a documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer.  To experience Goldworthy’s art in situ must be a magic experience, and this documentary is the next best thing. His work is exquisitely ephemeral, and could be considered as both an intervention and collaboration with nature. But unlike actually experiencing his land art or sculptures, this documentary allows us to witness Goldworthys work through its development and exploration, to failure and collapse. An invaluable and allegorical reminder of our impermanence.

Golden Hour. Watching the light drain from the sky as the sun sets is one of life’s quiet joys. The spectral shift, the dramatic transformation in light level and the unpredictable nature of such fleeting moments mean that both the sunset and the observer are never the same twice.
Catching the sunrise requires a different form of commitment, and is often easier when travelling and outside ones usual time and perceptual comfort zone. But the best start to any day is to quietly witness the beautiful transition from the stillness of night through the dawn chorus to the new day.
Make the effort to join all of bird life in its daily ritual of celebration for a brand new day.

Wings of Desire, a film by Wim Wenders. As a kid I was brought up on the usual diet of local & American film and TV, but skipping a boring lecture at University to sneak into a screening created a permanent transformation: this film sparked the beginning of a vital shift in my perception, a life long love of art films and to discover and pursue my vocation in film. A beautiful exploration of what it means to be human and to be alive.

Good things to use.

Barometer.  While we all depend on broadcast weather forecasts to plan our day and work, learning to interpret and predict your local weather is an invaluable skill and owning a barometer plays an important part. My Dad always used to tap his barometer as he headed out to work after lunch, and I never understood why until I owned a barometer myself – its about change. Also note: ancient science does not require batteries. Or software updates.

Portable sound recorder. As someone obsessed with sound, it is very rare I don’t have a recorder with me. And when I can’t have my full sound recording rig with me I do ALWAYS have a portable sound recorder with me.  While the obvious use is for collecting sounds, its primary purpose is actually to collect ideas: whether it’s narrating an idea after waking at 4am, capturing slices of personal & family life, documenting a verbal stream of consciousness during a road trip, or recording idiosyncratic sounds that no one else might even notice, let alone hear. Consider it the time based equivalent of a pencil & notebook. eg Sony M10 or Sony D100.

Time. We all live in our version of ‘real time’ but what exactly is time and is it real?  Delmore Schwartz says it more eloquently than I can: “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.”  Time is elastic, our perception of time can be manipulated and making sentient use of time is crucial. But so is the idea of idle time, having time to daydream, to let your mind freely wander. Giving our undivided attention to something or someone almost seems a rarity these days, as our ‘free time’ becomes progressively commodified. There are so many presumptions attached to modern digital life. A simple example: if you have a “to do” list, do you also have a “to don’t” list?  The world does not end if you turn off your un/smart phone.  Become 100% present, close your eyes and listen. That sound you hear is time flowing all around you.
Connect with Tim on Twitter, @TimPrebble, and see what else he reads to fuel his creative process.