World Listening Day 2017: Listening to the Ground

You are invited to participate in World Listening Day 2017, an annual global event held on July 18.

This year’s theme is “Listening to the Ground”

“Sometimes we walk on the ground, sometimes on sidewalks or asphalt, or other surfaces. Can we find ground to walk on and can we listen for the sound or sounds of ground? Are we losing ground? Can we find new ground by listening for it?”—Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016)

In addition to this year’s theme, WLD 2017 reflects and honors the life and legacy of Pauline Oliveros, who died at age 84 on 26 November 2016.

Dozens of organizations and thousands of people from six continents have participated in World Listening Day since its inception in 2010. Help share and grow participation in this annual event by adding your information to our online form:

Use hashtag #WLD2017 to connect our global community across social media.

Pauline Oliveros was a force of nature, a composer guided by her interest in harnessing cutting-edge technologies and her lifelong practice in deep listening.

In the early 1960’s, Pauline Oliveros composed with magnetic tape and prototype synthesizers at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. She was also an accomplished accordion player. A vocal self-advocate for her pioneering work, which remained consistently relevant throughout her lifetime, Oliveros held her ground as other talented female pioneers of electronic music went disregarded in the male-dominated field.

Her collaborations and improvisations were witness to her willingness to listen to others and to weave together a unique tapestry of talented musicians in marvelous acoustic spaces. And who is a musician? Anyone according to Oliveros. She wanted music to be free from specialists, and instead open to everyone regardless of status, experience, or ability.

In 1971, following a period of introspection triggered by John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Vietnam War protests, Oliveros published her Sonic Meditations, a set of 25 text-based instructions meant to provoke thoughtful, creative responses for anyone to carry out to expand consciousness and healing. “Native,” the most commonly cited sonic meditation resonates well with Pauline’s suggested theme for World Listening Day 2017, Listening to the Ground. Pauline defined deep listening as, “listening in every possible way to every thing possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one’s own thoughts as well as musical sounds.” She urged us to, “Take a walk at night, and walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.”

Let us all slow down enough to let our feet become our ears. Let us listen to the ground on 18 July, World Listening Day 2017, in honor of composer and deep listener, Pauline Oliveros.

~Andrea Williams, New York teaching artist

World Listening Day 2017 is an opportunity to consider and engage one another in an ear-minded, soundscape approach to our environment, to understand our shared role in making and listening across cultures, generations, places, disciplines, and communities, and to reflect and honor the life and legacy of Pauline Oliveros, an influential woman pioneer of electronic music composition and improvisation, as well as a founder of the practice called Deep Listening. July 18, the birthday of R. Murray Schafer (b. 1933), Canadian composer and founder of the World Soundscape Project and acoustic ecology.


  1. Amazing quote, inspiring us for a related activity already! Can you tell us where the quote of Pauline Oliveros comes from?

    • Thank you, Geert. We’re glad you like Pauline’s quote. Last year we invited her to devise a theme for World Listening Day 2017. “Listening to the Ground” is what Pauline provided last October, along with the prompts: “Sometimes we walk on the ground, sometimes on sidewalks or asphalt, or other surfaces. Can we find ground to walk on and can we listen for the sound or sounds of ground? Are we losing ground? Can we find new ground by listening for it?”

  2. Hello Eric Leonardson,
    I am an artist living in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. With some friends and the support of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, I would like to participate in World Listening Day with some public programming here in Dawson.
    Please let me know the process for getting involved. I can share our plans with you once things take shape. I think there will be community interest here!
    many thanks, Jeffrey Langille

    • Dear Jeffery,

      Thank you for your interest in participating in World Listening Day 2017.

      We have just added an online participation form to help share and grow participation in World Listening Day here:

      Please add your information to our database. This also helps sustain the World Listening Project. Share our Facebook Event or create your own. The hashtag #WLD2017 also helps us track our success through social media. Thank you!

      All the best,

  3. There is another hashtag in Facebook just like WLD2017 is the World Leprosy Day 2017 and it is most popular than World Listening

  4. Just found out about World Listening Day 2017. Thanks to the organisers. Happy to learn about this opportunity to engage in acoustic ecology activities and to honour the life and legacy of Pauline Oliveros, who was here in Ottawa last year and who understood many things deeply including what silence means at the end of a concert. Happy also that this day recognises R. Murray Schafer with whom I have the pleasure of collaborating on a number of acoustic ecology projects. Both Pauline and Murray will never be forgotten for their gifts to humanity.

  5. It’s wonderful to be reminded that listening can be active, while for most of us listening is largely passive – except when attending a concert.
    Living in a residential neighborhood, listening reveals the reassuring presence of song birds, children and dogs. But it also perceives less welcome sounds of motor vehicles, garden machines and aircraft. All these sounds pose little or no element of surprise; they’re part of an urban soundscape. We can actively listen for them, but more often simply perceive them passively.
    One uniquely North American technology which is rarely perceived actively is so-called keyless remote locking. It can sound the horn of a motor vehicle and surprise anyone in the vicinity whose passive listening is not familiar with the sound. That’s exactly what happened to us upon returning to our quiet residential neighborhood after 23 years abroad. Honking horns in Europe is meant for traffic situations; confirmation of remote locking with optical signals is silent.
    The element of surprise becomes an annoyance, particularly when one realizes that honking locking is a completely unnecessary addition to the soundscape. Even passive acceptance of such an annoyance adds to the overall stress of urban living.

  6. Just read the LinkedIn announcement on July 21… ahhh. Too late. Why?
    But is there a WLD2018, how can I participate? And where?

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