10 Gadgets Halsey Burgund Can’t Live Without | Innovation | Smithsonian
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(Halsey Burgund)

10 Gadgets Halsey Burgund Can’t Live Without

From the software he uses to compose to the podcasts that inspire him, these tools help the Boston-based sound artist make music from everyday noises

smithsonian.com

Ever wonder what makes inventors tic? We’re talking with innovators and forward-thinkers to learn more about the tools of their trade—and other gizmos that inspire them to create.

In the age of iPhones and other smart devices, it’s almost instinct to drown out the drone of busy streets—screeching buses, shouts from street vendors, blaring horns and passing conversation—with headphones.

But sound artist and musician Halsey Burgund finds the cacophony to be a hum of opportunity; every yell, whisper and grinding escalator stair is music to his ears.

Burgund uses voices and noises—snippets of everyday life, from the clink of car keys to a dripping shower head—in his musical compositions and art installations. “Ocean Voices,” for instance, is an interactive audio map composed of people’s anecdotes about the ocean and conservation, and “Patient Translations” is a crowd-sourced audio and visual artwork on health care.

The documentarian takes us inside his studio for a closer look at what helps him capture everyday life and turn it into art.

ZOOM audio recorders, specifically the H2 model

ZOOM audio recorder
(Samson Technologies)

Burgund uses a number of microphones and recording devices to capture voices. But, he says he’s “not a super gear head”—in fact, his favorite recorder is a small one he can fit in his pocket. “There are similar recorders that probably offer slightly better sound quality or more advanced features, but the convenience of the ZOOMs and the low enough price, [which makes me] comfortable bringing one of them everywhere, is super important to me,” he says. “I always want to be ready to record something. It might not always be someone’s voice; it might be an interesting sound or meteorological phenomenon. I always want to be ready.”

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