THE WORLD LISTENING PROJECT (WLP) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization devoted to understanding the world and its natural environment, societies and cultures through the practices of listening and field recording.

The WLP was founded in 2008 and is supported by the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, a membership organization and regional chapter of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology, affiliated with the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology.

The WLP maintains a website and online forum about its artistic and educational activities. These include the use of radio and web-based technologies, conducting public workshops, forums, and lectures, as well as participating in exhibitions, symposiums, and festivals. To learn more and become involved in the WLP’s activities please subscribe to our discussion group.

World Listening Day 2015: H2O

WLD2015logoYou are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2015, an annual global event held on July 18.

The purposes of World Listening Day are to:

  • Celebrate the listening practices of the world and the ecology of its acoustic environments;
  • Raise awareness about the growing number of individual and group efforts that creatively explore Acoustic Ecology based on the pioneering efforts of the World Soundscape Project, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, La Semaine du Son, Deep Listening Institute, among many others;
  • Design and implement educational initiatives that explore these concepts and practices.

This year’s theme for World Listening Day is “H2O”.

The global water crisis means 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water. Water is rapidly becoming the commodity of the 21st century and the catastrophic effects of climate change often involve negative associations with water. Rising sea levels, devastating floods, melting ice in Antarctica and droughts spreading throughout the globe, all highlight our increasingly unpredictable and extreme relationship with water.

Yet H2O is vital for life, water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and 60% of our bodies are made of water. Oceans, rivers and lakes are the core of many of the world’s iconic cities and historically civilizations formed around water. Indigenous communities across the globe believe water is at the core of our existence. For thousands of years communities have lived sustainably by holding significant cultural and spiritual value of rivers, lakes and oceans.

World leaders believe we need to create a cultural shift in how we think about water. We need a better understanding and awareness of the value of water and we need to make critical changes to avoid the ramifications of the global water crisis. In the words of Sylvia Earle “even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”

World Listening Day 2015: H2O invites 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.

World Listening Day 2015 includes the H2O virtual symposium hosted on WaterWheel, an electronic publication, and hundreds of events taking place across the globe.

World Listening Day is co-organized by the World Listening Project (WLP), the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology (MSAE) and Biosphere Soundscapes. July 18 was chosen because it is the birthday of Canadian writer, educator, philosopher, visual artist, and composer R. Murray Schafer. His efforts leading the World Soundscape Project and his seminal book, The Tuning of the World, inspired global interest in a new field of research and practice known as Acoustic Ecology.

World Listening Project, Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology and Biosphere Soundscapes invite you to participate in World Listening Day 2015 on Saturday, July 18, and through the week of July 12th-18th. Some suggestions on how you can participate and organize include:

  • Soundwalks or listening events in your local community, with a particular focus on oceans, rivers, lakes and catchments
  • Field recording trips or workshops
  • Site-specific performance events
  • Concerts curating water inspired compositions (contact us to connect with composers and sound artists)
  • Personal experiences of attentive listening or field recording
  • Educational events that relate to acoustic ecology, field recording, or a similar topic
  • Public talks or lectures about listening, water and acoustic ecology including participation in the World Listening Day H2O virtual symposium on July 17-18.

Use the hashtag #WLD2015 to connect with other local and global groups participating in the World Listening Day 2015: H2O and get involved.

Participation in World Listening Day is rapidly expanding every year. In this sixth year we anticipate even greater activity and interest.

Please join in the World Listening Day 2015 activities by emailing about your plans and be sure to include “World Listening Day” in the subject line.

Please fill out the World Listening Day 2015 online participation form so we can promote your projects and include them in our documentation.

Please use our Quick Submission Form if you would prefer to provide brief details about your activities. It will only take two minutes! Thanks!


“Surprising Sounds” by Viv Corringham

Some sounds take you by surprise while others make you work to hear them. Knowing that my first blog was coming up I thought I’d write about the listening experience that has made the most impression on me so far this year. The obvious choice seemed to be the one I had to research, walk several miles to reach, and hunt for when I arrived.

But then just last week I was walking around a lake in Minneapolis on a rare Spring-like day. Everyone was out. Beneath the conversations and laughter of joggers, walkers and cell phone users I heard an intriguing, tinkling sound like bells. The ice on the lake was finally melting and breaking up into small crystals which were being pushed together by the wind. These collisions caused a delicate chiming that was even more delightful for being barely audible.

In some aspects, such as its subtlety and bell-like quality, it reminded me of the sound I had intended to focus on in this blog: the suikinkutsu, a musical device found in Japanese gardens. In February this year I finally tracked one down in the Taizo-in Zen temple in Kyoto. I was in Japan for a revisit after 30 years, but on my first visit I hadn’t even heard of the suikinkutsu. I read about it in 1995 in David Toop’s book Ocean of Sound. He wrote that after listening to this minute sound “all auditory senses are heightened”. I wanted to hear this for myself.

And so at last, after a long walk to Taizo-in and some searching in the temple garden, I was listening to a quiet but resonant “bing!” and then “bong!” near and below what appeared to be a hand-washing basin. After recording these gentle sounds for a while, I finally realized  that it is the act of washing the hands that plays the suikinkutsu. The device consists of a pot buried upside down with a hole at the top and a small pool of water, usually on a bed of gravel, inside the pot. The hand-washing basin collects water from a bamboo pipe and lets it drip through the hole into the resonating pot. Once I began to let water pour through the hole, splashes started to bounce off the sides and streams of pure, rich tones rang out in the pot.

Apparently it is quite rare nowadays to find a suikinkutsu without a bamboo listening pole to amplify the sounds, but I was lucky in my choice of Taizo-in temple as this was a quiet garden and no pole was necessary. Apart from enjoying the variety of sounds produced, I really like the fact that the suikinkutsu (often translated as “water koto cave”) is discreet and surprising and the device is hidden from view. It is, in a sense, a sound maker that is played by accident and that gives a different listening experience to each person.

(To hear a suikinkutsu, I recommend John Levack Drever’s recording, also at Taizo-in Temple.)

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Viv Corringham is a British vocalist, sound artist and composer, currently based in the USA, who has worked internationally since the early 1980s. Her work includes audio installations, music performances and soundwalks. She is a 2012 and 2006 McKnight Composer Fellow through American Composer Forum and has received many grants and awards. She has an MA Sonic Art from Middlesex University, London, England and is certified to teach Deep Listening by composer Pauline Oliveros.

In the previous 12 months, work has been presented at Around Sound Festival, Hong Kong 2013; Tempo Reale Festival, Florence, Italy 2012; Soundworks, ICA, London, UK 2012; Her Noise Festival, Tate Modern, London, UK 2012 and Deep Listening Institute, Kingston, NY, USA 2012.

Articles about her work have appeared in magazines and books: In the Field (UK), Organised Sound (UK), Musicworks (Canada), Playing With Words (UK) and For Those Who Have Ears (Ireland). Recordings are available on Innova, Deep Listening, Emanem, Slowfoot, NoMansLand, ARC Music, MASH, Slam, Rhiannon, Jungle Records, SSWA, Move, Artship and Third Force.