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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Research: Animals and acoustic Communication

BBC Nature Wild Video Collection. Acoustic communication is the sending and receiving of messages using sound. Bird song, the roars of lions and the chirping of cicadas are all examples of this. Sometimes the messages are outside the range of human hearing, such as the ultrasonic squeaks of baby rats or the infrasound rumbles of elephants. Most acoustic communication is not language, in the sense that humans use it, although language is one aspect of this adaptation.

There are 50 videos on animal communication archived on this BBC site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Documentary: Constructing Sonic Belvederes

Sonic Seascape Terrace (8:16 ) Documentation of two sonic belvederes constructed by Marianne Decoster-Taivalkoski and Hanna Haaslahti in Turku (Finland) during summer 2011. A realtime soundscape composition created by Alejandro Montes de Oca was distributed on the terraces from the hydrophones submerged in the body of water surrounding the terrace. 

Call For Video Links

The Soundscape Explorations directory is looking for online videos related to the field of acoustic-ecology. Please send URL links to

I am interested in all topics related to the soundscape as it is studied from a variety of disciplines be they scientific, social, or artistic. 

Thank you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Phonographer: Nick Penny - sound diarist

Sound Diarist (1:46) Throughout 2008 Nick Penny, a musician turned sound diarist created an online archive of sounds recorded near his home in Oundle, Northamptonshire, UK. He shares the sounds he records with listeners all over the world who turn into this soundscape of everyday life. His sound diary is available online. Source: BBC. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Soundscape Composition: Sounds of Africa

Each of these two videos is a montage of images and nature sound woven together into an Animal Planet TV Program promotion for Africa Month. Created by David Bez. 

Sources: YouTube

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Soundscape Installation: Times Square Sound Sculpture

Sound Sculpture (1:46)  Even in the cacophony of staccato noise that defines Times Square, one sound seems particularly intriguing. Depending on one's ear it is either a continuous oooom-like mantra, a moan, a reverberating bell or an organlike drone. 

It can be heard if you stand on or near the grating over a subway ventilation shaft on the pedestrian island where Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersect south of 46th Street. You can even detect it sometimes aboard the Queens-bound R, N and W trains before they lumber into the West 49th Street subway station. But no tourist map or sign identifies it.
That is the whole point.

"I wanted a work that wouldn't need indoctrination," says Max Neuhaus, the artist who created the work, which he calls a sound sculpture. "The whole idea is that people discover it for themselves. They can't explain it. They take possession of it as their own discovery. They couldn't do that if it were labeled 'An Artwork by Max Neuhaus.'  Full article.

Source: New York Times Video

Friday, November 25, 2011

Documentary: Listening to Northern Lights

Listening to Northern Lights (7:45)  When solar flares hit the Earth's magnetic field, the skies at both poles can light up with auroras. The particles also create very low frequency electromagnetic waves, a type of natural radio that can be picked up around the globe. Every year sound recordist Steve McGreevy heads north where the reception is best and points his receiver at the sky. This was made for use in the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center dome, thus the circular frame of the images). Produced by Joel Halvorson NASA Earth-Sun Museum Alliance (ESMA)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Phonographer: Knud Viktor

Le Sculpteur de son (8:51) Knud Viktor (1924 Copenhagen) is known as a pioneer of phonography and sound ecology. Formerly a painter but also a photographer and a film maker, Viktor wanted to picture the landscape by capturing the impact of the intense light and sounds upon animals. He spent most of his life trying to capture the tiny sound of animals and the sound of erosion on the rocks of Régalon (Lubéron, France) where he was living at the time of this interview.  Source: YouTube

Knud Viktor, Le Chantre Du Luberon  (12:00) Have you ever heard the sound of a worm in a fruit, that of a guinea pig in the womb?  Knud Viktor did. Perceiving the imperceptible, he recorded thousands of sounds, mixing, and processing them for seventeen years, to achieve a "sound painting" of the blue mountain of Luberon.  Originally a painter, printmaker, photographer, he explains why he turned to the world of sound. He explains how by making short films on crickets that little by little, "the sound took over him." He speaks of his early recordings. Source:

Language: French only

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Noise Issues: Moscow

Muscovites angry over noise pollution (4:02) In a city of 10 million people Moscow is dealing with pollution in a whole new way. Prime Time takes a look at an environmental issue that is changing the way we live, sometimes without realizing it.

Source: RT Moscow

See video list for other Noise Issue topics.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Documentary: Michael Colley Hang Performer

Michael Colley: Yue Diao PANArt Hang. (6:19)  Many artists interact with the soundscape which helps give form and definition to their work. Michael Colley performs and discusses his search for acoustic spaces that enhance the sound of this unique percussion instrument. A film by Darren Teale.

Source: YouTube

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lecture: Hildegard Westerkamp, "What's in a soundwalk?"

"What's in a soundwalk?" (33:36) In this presentation, Hildegard Westerkamp, uses recorded interviews, audio mixes, and live readings, to explore the evolution of soundwalks put on by the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective. She traces how the continuity of soundwalk activities over time may have shifted and deepened participant experiences in listening and relationships to space and place. This presentation was part of "Session 5 Soundwalks, Acoustic Spaces and Field Recordings" Sonic Acts XIII, 2010, Amsterdam.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Soundscape Composition: Duluth Harbor Serenade

Duluth Harbor Serenade (8:36) by Philip Blackburn. Duluth, Minnesota is on the shores of Lake Superior. The area is rich in signature sounds and sonic landmarks as is evidenced in the salutes between the lift bridge and boats, the trains, and the various bells around Duluth. Blackburn has taken this ambient soundscape and composed it into this 8 minute performance piece that was part of a  2011 Labor Day Weekend festival. The project was supported by an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, with funds from the Legacy Amendment. More at:

Source: YouTube

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Education: Making Sound Maps

Sound Maps (13:57) An IslandWood environmental science educator  discusses the techniques and practices  of creating a  soundmap  to document an acoustic environment.

Source: YouTube

Friday, November 18, 2011

Documentary: Music in Nature

Music In Nature (8:13) In this short documentary segment we follow Oregon musicians Deklun and Pace from Mount Hood to the coast as they find natural homes for their unique Electronic/trumpet musical improvisations. With a 1000 watt sound system, a computer and a trumpet, they don’t play for crowds. They play for an audience of nature alone. Produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting

Source: OPB

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview: Annea Lockwood and acoustic ecology

Annea Lockwood - Interviewed by Arie Altena. (33:35)  In this informal interview with sound excerpts, Annea Lockwood touches on her views about field recording and sound mapping. She is well known for her recording of environmental soundscapes.  Her "A Sound Map of the Hudson" River" and the more recent "A Sound Map of the Danube" are considered as classics of the genre. 

This interview was part of "Session 5 Soundwalks, Acoustic Spaces and Field Recordings" included in Sonic Acts XIII, 2010, Amsterdam.

Source: Vimeo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lecture: Barry Truax - Sonic Complexity

Interacting with Inner and Outer Sonic Complexity: from Microsound to Soundscape Composition (53:54) It is possible to think of the two extremes of the world of sound as the inner domain of microsound (less than 50 ms) where frequency and time are interdependent, and the external world of sonic complexity, namely the soundscape. In terms of sonic design, the computer is increasingly providing tools for dealing with each of these domains, such as granular synthesis and multi-channel soundscape composition. The models of interaction involved with the complexity of each of these domains are instructive, and will be presented with sound examples. 

Barry Truax teaches both electroacoustic music and computer music and acoustic communication at Simon Fraser University. He was one of the original members of the World Soundscape ProjectProduced by Vancouver Computer Music Meetings (VCMM)

Source: Vimeo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Education: Community and Sound Series Video 1: "The Soundmark"

The Soundmark (4:34) "The Community and Sound Series" is a collection of videos designed to educate a community about the sonic uniqueness or character of a place.  Through this awareness, citizens may learn how to promote, protect and take pride in their soundscapes. "The Soundmark" is the first video in the series introducing the public to the principles and key terminology of acoustic ecology. The programs are produced by Kenya D. Williams of AdoreRecordings in Portland, Oregon. 

Source: VIMEO

Monday, November 14, 2011

Documentary: David Rothenberg - Why Birds Sing

Why Birds Sing (15:01) BBC. Inspired by musician and eco-philosopher David Rothenberg's book of the same title, this documentary explores the intriguing, charming, complex and often conflicting theories on why birds sing like they do and why humans are so attracted to the sound.

The film features contributions from musicians including Laurie Anderson, Jarvis Cocker and Beth Orton; enlightening and often startling analysis from some of the world's most eminent birdsong scientists; a literary guide to birdsong in poetry; a bizarre birdsong-themed art 'happening'; the creation of a new musical composition from the Afro-Celt Sound System, entirely made up of manipulated birdsongs; and a strange musical duet at New York's Bronx Aviary, featuring humans and birds.

Filmed in the forests, aviaries, studios and laboratories of England, Germany and the USA, this is a colourful, entertaining, informative and occasionally weird journey through the songs of nature that have enchanted and perplexed humans for thousands of years. Produced by the BBC.

Related Videos

David Rothernberg Interspecies Musician and Philosopher (3:50) NJIT. Dr. David Rothenberg, best-selling author and acclaimed clarinetist, discusses his work researching animal communication, bird song, and music. His interest is in bridging art and science. Rothenberg received his PhD from Boston University and his BA from Harvard University. Produced by the New Jersey Institute of Technolgoy.

Source: YouTube

Bird Songs (2:1) PBS. Scientist and musician David Rothenberg takes discussion of bird songs a step further than biological imperative, and recognizes these tunes distinct to each species as music. Rothenberg is a professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with a special interest in animal sounds as music. He is also a jazz musician whose books and CDs reflect a longtime interest in understanding other species by making music with them. Reference: David Rothenberg Why Birds Sing: A Journey Into the Mystery of Bird Song (Basic Books, 2005)

Source: PBS

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Soundscape Composition: Crane Sunday

Crane Sunday (6:10) By Michael Peters. This is a sonic montage of recorded sounds including underwater insects, planes crossing overhead, and contact microphone recordings from under a bridge. The recordings were mostly made in the same small harbour in Cologne, Germany. The only exception is a pump organ that was recorded in a Stockholm museum. More information online:

Source: Vimeo

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Research: David Dunn's Sonic Beetle Wars

Sonic Weapons Against Bark Beetle (2:30) Forest scientists at Northern Arizona University's  Ecological Restoration Institute are desperate to stop the massive devastation from bark beetle infestation, have recruited a powerful and unconventional force to fight this fierce little bug—Santa Fe musician and composer David Dunn. (Produced by Inside NAU)

Related Video

Beetle Mania. (2:51) The work of Assistant Professor Richard Hofstetter, Research Assistant Reagan McGuire and composer David Dunn has been receiving a lot of attention lately. The trio has been working on a unique approach to controlling bark beetle outbreaks, by turning their own sounds against them. Their work has been the subject of more than 50 stories in newspapers and magazines, as well as on television and radio. (Produced by Inside NAU)

Source: You Tube

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soundscape Composition: City Symphony from August Rush

City Symphony. (1:35) A soundscape composition segment from the movie August Rush in which Evan Taylor/Autumn Rush (Freddie Highmore) discovers New York's sonic rhythm. The film concludes with August saying "The music is all around us, all you have to do is listen."

Source: YouTube

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soundscape: Rainforest Bird Communication

Bird Call (1:45)  Birds of the dense rainforest have evolved unique vocalization techniques to make themselves known.  In this short video David Attenborough looks at some of the loudest birds on the planet - including the decibel generating screaming toucan.  From the BBC.

Source YouTube

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Soundscape Composition: "Long After We're Gone" by Nerina Penzhorn

Long After We're Gone (3:56) This is a soundscape piece composed by video producer and editor Nerina Penzhorn who notes that the work is comprised of "... video and audio field recordings in and around the Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted waterways in the US.   The title comes from a conversation I had with Eymund Diegel, who took me out on the canal by canoe. Eymund is an Urban Planner with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Gowanus Canal. He talked about the natural streams that have been flowing into the canal for centuries and that will still be around long after we're gone."

Source: Vimeo

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Noise Issues: Leaf Blowers - Orinda, California

Coming to Blows (6:34) The battle over leaf blowers all across the country is being led by a couple in Orinda, California who are just fed up with the noise. John Blackstone reports. CBS Sunday Morning.

Source: CBS

Related video

East Bay town fights to outlaw leaf blowers (2:00) Some residents in the East Bay hope to follow the lead of other Bay Area cities by banning leaf blowers.
Source: KGO-TV ABC-7 Local News San Francsico

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soundscape: Culvert

Culvert (4:00) "I've tried to audiolize a hospital culvert in relation to structures, lighting, smells and sight. To show how important sounds are in architecture, I've also cut in some contradicting or surprising sounds that you might not think of hearing in a culvert."

Concept of space workshop
Umeå School of Architecture 
October 2009

Source: YouTube

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Documentary: L'arbre (Clip) Brazilian Amazon Jungle

L'arbre (2:34)  By Pierre-Etienne Lessard. This is a clip from the documentary project Echografia about sound ecology and sound environment and was shot in Brazilian Amazon region.

Pierre-Etienne Lessard is a director, videographer and documentary content creator-producer for museums, TV, living arts and the web. He graduated from Laval University in journalism and public communications, film studies, he obtained in 1994 a second bachelor's degree in film production from Concordia University

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Phonographer: John Hartog

Nature Sounds Recording. (6:53) John Hartog  is a nature sound recordist. Just as painters paint a landscape, or photographers photograph it, John heads into the countryside (Sauvie Island and Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge) with a microphone and a recording deck to capture the natural sounds of wild Oregon. These audio ‘snapshots’ in time tell us something about the place we live, and the wildlife that share it with us. Oregon Field Guide Production. Visit Mr. Hartog's web site.

Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting

Friday, November 4, 2011

Soundscape: Territorial Sound Making In The Forest

Territorial Sounds (4:04) David Attenborough explores the making of sounds within dense forest environments that determine an animal's territory. He impersonates the sound of a woodpecker marking its territory known in order to observe the behaviour of a pair in the woods. From the BBC. Also available from the BBC in a higher resolution but shorter version Click2View.

Source: You Tube

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Soundscape Composition: The Passenger

The Passenger (5:51) This is an extract from the Soundwalk Collective's "The Passenger", which presents sounds from Tangier, Fez, and Marrakesh, with video projection by Jim Helton. Audio extracts taken from premiere of  the work performed live at FIAF's Florence Gould Hall in NYC on Monday, May 9th 2011. Click2Read more about “The Passenger”. 

Soundwalk Collective is an international art collective based in New York City. Since 2000 they have been sonic nomads, embarking on never ending journeys from the desolate land of Bessarabia to the desert of Rub al Khali. By exploring and documenting the world around us through its sounds, the Collective abstracts and re-composes narrative sound pieces through fragments of reality to form distinct audible journeys.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lecture: Sound Health in 8 Steps

Julian Treasure: Shh! Sound health in 8 steps (7:15) Julian Treasure says our increasingly noisy world is gnawing away at our mental health -- even costing lives. He lays out an 8-step plan to soften this sonic assault (starting with those cheap earbuds) and restore our relationship with sound.

Source: TED

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Documentary: Secret Language of Elephants

Secret Language of Elephants (15:00) For two decades, a group of wild African elephants has been watched over, studied and protected by their own guardian angel: an extraordinary American scientist named Andrea Turkalo. 

Turkalo's own story is pretty amazing, but not nearly as compelling as the insights into elephant behavior her research has revealed, especially when it comes to "the secret language of elephants."  This CBS' 60 Minutes documentary investigates the work researchers are doing by listening to elephant sounds and observing their behavior which is resulting in an "elephant language dictionary". Bob Simon reports.

Source: YouTube