A Time for Field Recording, and Thoughts on Acoustic Ecology

How can sound can be a powerful indicator of environmental degradation, alerting us to changes before we see them?
It takes an archive of many years and tenacious attention to detail.

The US Parks service, which proved itself internationally to be a political force on the day of Trump’s inauguration, is huge in the USA. Yellowstone has release an archive of sounds and videos of sounds for the public.

Ways to provoke people to listen more attentively, and one can usually begin by preaching to the converted, is to launch an open call to audio enthusiasts for remixes, in the first instance I would say, as Cities and Memory have done for their interactive sounds maps of the world. For a wide audience the archive, for online listening, releases and embedded sound in articles.

Below is my late 2018 remix of a field recording of Turin Piazza on NYE. I am sure now that I have listened and tweaked the original file so many times, that I would recognise the acoustics of an audio system and fireworks in that square were I to find myself there at another major event with my eyes blindfold. Could this work for parks and wildlife?

Acoustic ecologists get up really early, set up there mics and lie listening for hours, or walk away and take the audio home where they will listen, perhaps to edit, for hours. Their ears are fine tuned, can they lead the rest of us into that space of awareness, when we are actively blocking our ears from the urban din of bus brakes, trains passing, or sirens, loud music, engines and construction?

Perhaps we can read our way into hearing more clearly, with authors such as Hildegard Westerkamp:

Soundwalks, just like listening itself, need to be DONE. Out of that doing comes an entirely knew experiential knowledge. This is precisely what makes out the disruptive nature of listening. The decision to do it, rather than talk about it, is the first disruption of old patters.

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