Happy World Listening Day 2015!


Happy World Listening Day! The 2015 theme for World Listening Day is “H2O” and we have been thrilled to receive submissions from across the world. Participation in World Listening Day has rapidly expanded every year since the inaugural event 2010 and the diversity of events and activities is always inspiring. Follow the program this weekend by using  #WLD2015 on social media platforms to connect with other local and global groups participating in World Listening Day.

This year we are pleased to present a special feature with Annea Lockwood and Bernie Krause as part of the virtual symposium content. Annea Lockwood’s incredible body of work was an inspiration for our theme this year and she has shared her inspiration with us to celebrated World Listening Day. Bernie Krause has shared a poignant video that shows the impact of the California drought on the biophony in San Francisco’s Sugarloaf State Park.

The H2O theme invited you to reflect on water, metaphorically in how you listen, or through creative events inspired by water and sound across the globe. The 2015 theme resonates at a time where we need to shift our collective thinking and actions towards water globally. We are pleased to see how submissions have creatively responded to the theme and highlighted the global water crisis in subtle yet powerful ways.

There are hundreds of sound walks happening in celebration of World Listening Day. From Drée village in France to Sequoia National Park in California,  sound walks across the world are approaching our theme in different ways. Pietro Bonanno in Palermo, Italy is doing a sound walk and field recording session that will arrive at the source of the Salso River. There are also sound walks happening along the Colne River in Colchester, the Noosa River in Australia and rivers through the city of Fortaleza in Brazil with Thaís Aragão.

Mikael Fernström in Limerick, Ireland, has created a sound walk that will follow the natural path of the river Shannon, and along the manmade headrace for the Ardnacrusha hydropower plant that was constructed in the 1920s. They are also using hydrophones, to listen to the difference between the two branches of the river. Björn Eriksson in the Philippines has created a sound walk with different stops for recordings along Iloilo river in Iloilo city. Each stop includes listening mediations and the recordings will later be published online.

We are pleased to see more collaborative projects emerging this year. Sonic Terrain are publishing a compilation of soundscape compositions for World Listening Day, the Sonic Terrain WLD compilations have become an integral part of World Listening Day.

Sound Waves is a project by Cities and Memory that forms part of World Listening Day 2015. It celebrates and builds on the World Listening Day theme of water by presenting a collective reimagining of the sounds of water around the world and the role it plays in our lives. A total of 38 sound artists from around the world have submitted a field recording and reimagining of water somewhere in the world: ocean, river, lake, stream, swimming pool, boiling kettle, splash of a puddle – anything in which water is the defining sound. This album presents some of the highlights of the project’s reimagined sounds – you can explore the full sound map at citiesandmemory.com/soundwaves

Radio Aporee have created another wonderful sound map for World Listening Day that is still open for submissions and EarthMoments have launched the Waterworx Soundscape Competition.

There are collaborative installations, performances and radio events happening across the world including Toby Wiltshire installation in Cumbria, U.K and John Hopkins live streamed improvisations from Arizona.

Sound Camp and Biosphere Soundscapes have launched a new collaboration to explore live stream networks in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and global river systems. Temporary mobile streams will emerge on the Locustream Soundmap of live worldwide open microphones through the World Listening Day weekend. We also encourage you to explore the existing network of rich live streams on the Locusonus Soundmap.

Mick Shanahan and Sonic Arts Waterford in Ireland are producing the Sonic Dreams Festival in association with Hive Gallery & Studios with a day of discussions, sound walks, field recording and live performances on the theme of H2O.

Independent film center Vorky Team from Ruma, Serbia are hosting a festival with listening workshops focused on water meditation, short films from Serbia and from around the world inspired by water, sounds of water recorded worldwide and in Serbia, music with Dr. Masaru Emoto’s photographs of structured water and spontaneous talks on world waters today.

There are many more exciting events happening across the world and we encourage you to follow the activities this weekend by using #WLD2015 on social media platforms. We will publish further information on the events and activities that occurred in the coming weeks and we hope you will all join us in celebrating World Listening Day 2015: H2O!

The World Listening Day 2015 Team

Eric Leonardson, Leah Barclay, Dan Godston and Christopher Preissing


World Listening Day 2015 with Annea Lockwood

In celebration of World Listening Day 2015 we are pleased to present a feature with Annea Lockwood as part of the virtual symposium content. Annea Lockwood’s incredible body of work was an inspiration for our theme this year and we are thrilled she has shared these inspiring words with us.

Annea Lockwood

“My life has been threaded by rivers, from my childhood in NZ – especially the Waimakariri, to this summer, spent beside the Flathead River, as every summer, in NW Montana (US). I have been recording rivers since the late 1960s, starting with the River Archive and moving on to recording, from source to mouth, the Hudson, the Danube and the Housatonic, three Sound Maps, each a sound installation with a physical map by which listeners can trace the journey as the audio unfolds.

Human relationships with rivers are incorporated in two of these works: for the Hudson I asked river-people about their physical experiences of the river’s considerable power, an important aspect of that river which people in NYC are rarely able to experience directly. Such access is not so easy, and so for most New Yorkers, the Hudson is a visual treasure to walk, jog, bike along, view from a rooftop at a party. But the strength of its currents is not felt by the eyes, once the river reaches the city, nor by the ears even, so these interviews – the stories they elicited, became an important component of the Sound Map of the Hudson. Even so, people often choose to listen only to the river – this is possible because the installation design sent the river’s sound through speakers while the interviews can be heard only through headphones (with the river in the background). Rivers are mesmerizing.

Twenty years later, thinking about the Danube, I wanted to get at why we are so drawn to rivers, creeks etc. and was asking people what the Danube means to them, and – a potent question which evoked deeply emotional responses, “Could you live without it?” One of the gifts which that river gave to me after four years of exploring was the realization that humans are a part of the river-created environment, as are its aquatic insects, fish, frogs, alders and willows, water plants, rocks – a part of its fibre, not acting upon, but within the riparian ecosystem, not separate but rather, shaped by the river – something I’d long believed conceptually, but now I could really feel it. So for this sound map people’s voices are fully integrated into the mix. To quote the anthropologist Philippe Descola “Plants and animals, rivers and rocks, meteors and the seasons do not exist all together in an ontological niche defined by the absence of human beings.”

While the growing water crisis is accelerating the commodification of water, affordable access to which should be a human right, and the old reaction of “We’ve got to put in a dam” still kicks in too often, it’s very heartening to learn about many people’s efforts to rethink our relationships with the non-human, to sense and act upon our interdependence with plants and animals, rivers and rocks, and climate.

‘Re-wilding’ our thinking, as Maja and Reuben Fowkes strikingly express it in the introduction to their recent publication – ‘River Ecologies: Contemporary Art and Environmental Humanities on the Danube’ (Translocal Institute, Budapest 2015). This brings to mind the idea that it might be helpful to ditch such terms as ‘capture’, ‘grab’ and even ‘take’, in relation to environmental sound, and replace them simply by ‘record’ and ‘sample’, for example. Language can be a useful place to start work on deep change and this will be a profound change.

So, ‘Rethink’, yes, but even more directly, re-feel those connections with the non-human. That has been the thrust of my work with rivers and, recently, with geophysical, solar, biological and other phenomena in Wild Energy, to feel the connection through your body. For Wild Energy, a sound installation made in collaboration with Robert Bielecki, we set up two hammocks in a wooded area and concealed all the technology in the brush. As a woman who visited said “You lie down and are instantly floating”, supported and relaxed – an important concern for me, as a relaxed body is open and responsive. So – no physical distractions, just hearing, sensing, with the sound vibrations coursing through your body. The upside of the fact that we have no physiological defenses against sound is that we can feel deeply permeated by it. When this happens, we are making a form of visceral contact with the source of the sound, I feel, making sound a powerful and intimate channel through which to experience other phenomena, and then we can go further, to the feeling of interconnectedness and the desire to sustain.

Immersion in the sonic energy of rivers through listening closely to them, for example, pulls them from data abstraction back into sensory experience – hydro-energy made tangible. The acoustic spectra they create fall largely within our hearing range; in addition, we can drink them, absorbing them internally; watch the play of light on their constantly changing surfaces, smell them, feel them on the skin. They are accessible to all our senses.

A common thread running through many of the interviews I recorded along the Danube was that for these people the river is alive – which I also came to feel. I hear it in the details of its constantly changing sounds, and if your sense of a river incorporates the fish, insects, aquatic plants, willows and alders, mammals and people which depend upon it, then a river is indeed alive.”

Annea Lockwood, World Listening Day 2015.

World Listening Day 2015 & 2016 with Bernie Krause

Bernie Krause is a world-renowned American musician and ecologist. He has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Bernie has shared a poignant video with us in response to the World Listening Day 2015 H2O theme. We follow up with an update in 2016 for World Listening Day:  Sounds Lost and Found. This video shows the impact of the California drought on the biophony in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in the Mayacamas Mountain range that divides the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. The GPS coordinates are 38°26’20.05”N/122°29’56.06”W.

World Listening Day 2015 & 2016: Bernie Krause from World Listening Project on Vimeo.

“The one-minute video illustrates changes due to climate change. The following is the text
describing what’s occurring:

Basically, this short example pertains to the California drought and shows the drought’s impact on the biophony in this area (about 50 miles north of San Francisco in a place called Sugarloaf State Park…a low elevation mountain range that is the border between Napa and Sonoma Valley). This year – because of the drought – we experienced what was virtually a silent spring with no birdsong for the first time in living memory…even at what would have normally been the height of the season in mid-April…an unfortunate outcome of Rachel Carson’s prediction more than 50 years ago. What is most remarkable and weird is that nobody seemed to notice the incredible silence this year.

The video is comprised of four 15-second examples – one minute total. It powerfully illustrates how the issues of climate change and the drought have progressed in one location over the past 11 years. The first segment was recorded in 2004. The second in 2009 (five years later). Again, in 2014, and the last in 2015. The recordings were made in exactly the same spot, mid April, and with carefully calibrated and repeatable settings, same protocol, same equipment. The lower half of the spectrogram shows the signature of a nearby stream that was flowing almost normally in 2004 and 2009. The upper half is filled with several different species of birds (note how the species present in that habitat have found frequency bandwidth above that of the stream signatures). The 2004 recording was similar to the density and diversity of the previous 10 years at the same spot. In the 2009 segment, however, the bird vocalization density has dropped off a bit probably due to the spring season occurring 2 weeks earlier on average, now. But the stream is still flowing. In the 2014 segment, however, everything has changed. Three years into the most serious drought in 1200 years, the stream was no longer flowing and the bird density and diversity has dropped off to very low levels. This year shows something even more interesting; the avian diversity has shifted with new species occupying acoustic niches that the stream signatures once occupied, with several of the other species no longer present in any numbers. This confirms an earlier prediction posited in the niche hypothesis, the operation of which is predicated on vocal organisms finding unoccupied acoustic bandwidth within which to generate sound.”

Bernie Krause, World Listening Day 2015-16