Join your neighbors in soundwalks with Chicago teaching artists for a unique outdoor experience in our sound environment as a listener and performer of your soundscape
October 2015 By Erik Summerville Borderbend Arts Collective, Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site, Outdoor Afro, and Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE) co-presented a multi-faceted community engagement sound event at Chicago’s Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site on Saturday, October 3rd. Eric […]
Report, photos, and audio by Christopher Preissing
On Saturday, July 18 (World Listening Day 2015), Dan Godston led a soundwalk at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Miller Trail. In spite of predictions for extremely hot and humid temperatures, nine hearty listeners braved the heat on what turned out to be a beautiful warm and breezy day.
Starting at the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, Dan introduced R. Murray Schafer and his seminal book, Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, and in keeping with this year’s H2O theme, Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea, and Jerry Dennis’ The Living Great Lakes. National Park Service Ranger Steve Rodriguez hosted the event on behalf of the IDNL, and provided materials with which the soundwalkers created text and visual images based on passages from the books. We have been collaborating with IDNL on programs at the Douglas Center annually since 2010!
To introduce the soundwalk Dan described two types of engagement: the first consisting of active listening, the second including active engagement with the environment. On top of a small dune through which the trail passes, we stopped to make sound by hand with leaves, wood, and the sand at our feet. Following that acoustic interaction with the environment, we walked over the wood bridge that spans the marsh.
Audio recording of the soundwalk:
The “H2O” theme for World Listening Day 2015 drew attention to water as a metaphor and reality; essential for life and now becoming the greatest commodity of the 21st century. At the end of the bridge, Dan had left two containers for pond water and branches with which to make sound and feel the water. In both instances soundwalkers participated joyfully, and reported these interactions as an important component of the experience. “When we were making sounds it felt very childlike, which brought to mind a lot of what kids’ play is just making sound for the joy of making sound.”
Sound walkers described listening without the other senses as “a good way to keep your focus;” that “there’s competition between the senses” as well as “for what you want to listen to;” and that “it was sensory overload.” Some additional comments include: “Cottonwood trees can be very loud.” “It’s very squeaky when you walk.” “I never paid attention but different trees make different sounds. I wondered how the birds and the insects take cues from that and how it affects what they do.” There was also a brief discussion around how our ears and brains actively filter various sounds in the environment, whereas microphones hear everything.
More photos are in our Album at https://goo.gl/photos/mGkjy3QrRnFWi3bc7
This week, Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic, Blair Kamin and I had a good chat about the positive role of sound in the design and experience of urban spaces. While noise problems at O’Hare Airport and Wrigley Field gain attention, we focused ways that sound reduces […]
1:00 pm Saturday, July 19 Join us for a public soundwalk in Miller Woods for World Listening Day 2014. This year’s theme is “Listen To You!” Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE) member Monica Ryan will open your senses to the soundscapes of the […]
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) is seeking papers for a “Special Issue on Soundscape and its Applications.” Deadline: January 15, 2012 [Quoted from the call] The general topic of soundscape is recognized as one that has consistently generated new and innovative […]
Scott Bernstein’s lecture was given at the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology meeting on Wednesday, September 21, hosted by the Columbia College Department of Audio Arts & Acoustics.
Download Scott Bernstein’s PowerPoint slides. (File size 46 MB PDF format.)
See the compelling data and conclusions of his talk correlating CO2 emissions and transportation (public and private) to home ownership, health (physical, social, and economic), soundscape, and overall environment. The data cited in Scott Bernstein’s lecture was drawn from a range of local and international studies. Displayed in the form of charts and graphs, his slideshow may serve as a useful tool to understand, to advocate, and suggest better choices in the planning of urban environments.
Bernstein’s goal is summed up in four tasks, to:
· Review some history of how our cites came to be built as they are now
· Review recent knowledge and tools used to help re-plan existing urban environments
· Explore ways in which both noise control and soundscapes can be seen as essential
· Suggest some next steps for exploring a useful synthesis of research and action here in Chicago
Scott Bernstein is co-founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a 33 year-old Chicago-based national innovations center that promotes healthy and productive communities. Read more about Scott Bernstein’s work and lecture in our original post here.
Scott Bernstein suggests that both reduced noise exposure and increased intentional soundscape enhancement is achievable, affordable, and even good for the economy, providing agendas for research, demonstration, and local policies that can make healthy soundscapes attainable.