Renset, a.k.a. Phil Tesner, moved to Berlin two years ago with the goal in mind of preparing to study for a sound-related masters degree program. Since then he’s been working with experimental/exploratory sound. I met him during the Open Ringtone Recording Session in Berlin, Germany. You may recognize him as the fellow who brought some of the most fantastic audio-producing equipment (an induction coil and a the re-worked insides of an old CD player) to the workshop.
Post-workshop, I received a lovely email from Renset identifying specific Berlin sounds that he thought might make good ringtones. I wrote back, inviting him to go out with me to record the audio, and he agreed.
We met at the Französischer Dom in Gendarmenmarkt (Mitte, Berlin). In his email, Renset wrote that “the bells in the Französischer Dom in Gendarmenmarkt are very cool to see in person as they have a MIDI controlled interface retrofitted to the bells so that they can be played with a keyboard, and the entire system is mounted hanging from the tower ceiling. It is around 2 euros to climb up into the tower to see the bells, and to get a great view of the city.”
We paid our euros, climbed the stairs, checked out the view and waited for the next hour to strike to record the beautiful bells. Luckily, the bells rang (or sang) out a lovely melody twice, so we got the levels set perfectly for the second take. Here’s Renset’s Französischer Dom Klingelton (French Huguenot Church Tone). The recording also includes the sound of other visitors who were present (and talking) during the ringing of the chimes.
When we headed out from the bell tower to see that great view of the city, I noticed that the door made an perfectly creaky sound. We recorded it, so here’s the Knarrende Tür Klingelton (Creaky Door Tone).
“Another sound that I hear everyday, that might make a good field recording–the U-bahn. Since it is summer, the trains tend to have the windows open, and some of the older lines can be quite loud and screechy! In particular, the U2 as it passes underground through Mitte. I even carry earplugs sometimes so that I can concentrate on reading or whatever I’m doing while on the train.”
Because he was so familiar with these particular sounds (and because he also records and edits audio), I handed the Locally Tone equipment over to Phil to record the underground sounds.
Here’s his U2 Berlin U-Bahn Tone, recorded on the line that runs from Ruhleben to Pankow stations. And there are two short text message alerts–a slightly longer Zurückbleiben bitte! Alert, which consists of the pre-recorded voice saying “Stand back, please!” in German as the subway doors prepare to close. This audio file also includes the horn beeps and the sound of the door closing. The shorter U-Bahn Message Alert is just the sound of the “stand back” horn-beeps in the form of a message alert.
I asked Renset why he wanted to turn these specific site-related sounds into ringtones.
“I really like the physical structure of the Französischer Dom building and the mechanics of the bell tower, and the view you get from up at the top of the tower. As for the U-Bahn, I chose it as a Berlin sound, because I’m so familiar with it and because I have this constant fear of losing my hearing. Somehow I like the idea of turning sounds you don’t like into useful sounds.”
Thanks to Renset for heading out in the field to produce some Berlin ringtones with Locally Toned!