/ art

Beat Picnic

Yesterday I went to my first Beat Picnic (previous Beat Picnics on Soundcloud here). I learned about Beat Picnic when the organizers presented on stage at Pecha Kucha Night vol 14, which happened a few weeks ago.

Beat Picnic as I understand it is people coming together at some location to take field recordings to use later as samples for beatmaking. All of the samples are compiled on a server and everyone takes what they need to make a track afterwards.

Very cool idea.

Yesterday’s Beat Picnic was held at the Tennoji Zoo in Osaka. We started at 11am and went until about 4pm, but the times aren’t really fixed so people can come and go. Altogether there may have been about 12 people this time. I was happily surprised to see that not everyone was there to do field recordings. Some came to sketch the animals in notebooks as we walked around. Some came to hang out and help in the sound-making process (rustling bamboo trees, playing air hockey at the zoo’s arcade, tapping metallic objects in the park).

For gear, I took my Tascam DR-05, some ear buds for simple monitoring, and my camera.


Surprising fact: zoos are much quieter than you may imagine them to be. At least such is the case for the animals caged within. They mostly just lay around, no lion roars, no monkey whooping. That didn’t stop us from pointing microphones at everything though. Try to imagine several people with headphones on and microphones pointed at a turtle. It looked like we were holding a press conference for an African tortoise, expectantly waiting for a comment on animal rights or something.

The turtle never said a word. Perhaps his lawyers told him to keep quiet.

Instead, most of the sound made in the park comes from the humans looking at the animals. Especially noisy are the smaller humans.

This is just as good.

I imagine many of the Beat Picnic attendees showed up at the zoo expecting to sample jungle sounds. That’s what I was thinking anyways.

However I have a feeling that there will be a lot of human voices in our collected samples and the beats we make from them.

I’m looking forward to hearing the results.

Thanks to organizers Ally Mobbs and David Cummings and all the other Beat Picnickers for a fun and memorable time.