Kathy Hinde – hydrophone recordings

Audio visual artist Kathy Hinde joined the Building Instruments project to explore the hidden underwater sounds of the harbourside. The following is her account of the process:
At the invitation of Pete Bennett, I went out armed with my hydrophone to listen in to some of the hidden underwater sounds, to contribute to the ‘Hidden Sounds of Spike Island soundwalk. One of my favourite spots is where the floating harbour joins the Avon Gorge. It’s such an interesting location, where the controlled water level of the harbour is starkly contrasted with the tidal Avon Gorge, which has the second highest tidal range in the world. I particularly love low tide at sunset, as the mudbanks glisten with high contrast shadows.
I started by using my hydrophone like a contact microphone, and resetting it on the railings under plimsole bridge.
The noise of the bridge traffic booms through the body of the bridge, and then resonates inside the railing, which have their own ‘pitch’ because they are hollow, so the railings are a bit like instruments naturally playing with the surrounding activity of the bridge.
I then carefully balanced my mic onto a steel cable running over the water. I touched it a few times and the sound was a surprise.
the wind also rattled the cable to create some sounds, and i ended up also gently scraping the pole that the cable was attached to.
This felt like it could be an instrument that could be played in many ways
on my walk back, i noticed that the Bristol Rowing Club were getting ready to embark on a trip out of Bristol Marina, so aI quickly submerged my hydrophone close by and managed to catch a couple of rowers passing by…
It’s always a surprise to listen with hydrophones and contact mics in this way, as it is never the same twice.
I’m also fascinated with how sound travels through differeernt materials and also how it resonates inside spaces, so these kinds of experiments always reveal new insights for me.