Wild Sharing – Do Birds Hit In The Woods

Participants met in the woods for a unique opportunity to cut their own custom vinyl record with Birds Hit Records.

John from Birds Hit Records prepares to cut a record.

Birds Hit Records are a Manchester company specialising in handcrafted, small batch production of vinyl. Specialist sound engineer John led a workshop that covered the history and science behind vinyl production and sound engineering, as well as a hands on lesson in cutting records.

The lesson on vinyl was comprehensive, covering the movement of the cutting stylus in mono as opposed to stereo, the way vinyl recording range aligns with the sound range pleasant to the human ear, and some extreme maths formulas used to determine how much sound can physically fit on a disc.

Birds Hit Records transported their vinyl cutting machine from their studio to Sudborough Green Lodge, where the fire was lit despite it being August as conditions must allow a blank record to be heated to 95ºF for cutting. We also heard about an additional piece of equipment the company sourced from Germany – a double head cutting table used in the recording of the Nuremberg Trials. Birds Hit are currently restoring this piece of history to be part of their production.

A double head table used to record the Nuremberg Trials, now part of Birds Hit Records’ studio.

Despite being firmly rooted in a history of engineering and science innovations, it was still magical to watch a record be cut in real time and then put directly on a turntable and played. In the end, participants walked away with their own music and recordings on vinyl, some souvenirs from Birds Hit Records, and a handful of the grooves cut out of their records, which looks like spun sugar but could theoretically play the same recordings … if someone built a machine to do it.

The white vinyl threads produced by the cutting stylus as it creates the grooves in a record.

Wild Sharing: Do Birds Hit In The Woods was the fifth of our Outdoor Institute of Art: Wild Sharing workshops, where our unique location and communal approach brings like-minded people together for peer-to-peer learning, informal skill and knowledge sharing, providing both a creative and social opportunity. This workshop was funded by Northamptonshire Community Foundation‘s Compton Fund.