The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Listen Here. Really: Listen

Posted by | July 17, 2014 | Filed under: Culture
Informal portrait of Dr. Bryan Pijanowski with one of his soundscape recording devices.
World Listening Day is July 18. I'd never heard of it until this week, when listener extraordinaire Bryan Pijanowski mentioned it during his noontime talk in the auditorium. Dr. Pijanowski is in town for the Global Sustainable Soundscapes Network's coastal workshop, which includes a site tour here today.

Soundscape ecology is a new branch of science, Pijanowski explained, made possible by technological advances in recording and digitally processing sound. Broadly, it is about studying sound in a landscape and its effects on organisms, and he does that all over the world (including, this spring and summer, at the Wells Reserve), but the Purdue professor is also interested in how sound connects people to a place and evokes emotion.

Church bells. Narikala, Tbilisi
"A church bell ringing in a valley is symbolic of community," Pijanowski told us, and went on to remind the group that we all have memories of sound that are just as powerful as what we recall through our mind's eye. Because of the near universal experience of sound, the acoustic discipline attracts not only ecologists but musicians, artists, technologists, and those in other fields.

To tap into a world of potential auditory citizen scientists, Pijanowski and his colleagues at Purdue University developed a program that invites people to record sounds then upload them to a Global Soundscapes website. Just before upload, users answer a few quick questions, one of which is, importantly, "How did it make you feel?" The Soundscape Recorder app (Google play or iTunes) is meant to make participation easy, as long as your technology is up to date.

My "smart" tech is behind the times, so on my first World Listening Day I'll just carry a simple digital recorder, picking a few moments throughout the day to take sonic snapshots for sharing another way.

Of course, you need nothing but ears to take part in World Listening Day. Here are a few things-to-do choices offered by the project promoting the global event:

  • A soundwalk or a listening party with people who make, listen, and discuss field recordings
  • A performance event that explores your soundscape and how we can listen to our soundscape, or sonic environment
  • A private / solitary way, by listening attentively to your soundscape
  • An educational event that relates to acoustic ecology, field recordings, or a similar topic

Whatever you do, enjoy, appreciate, and share if you wish.

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