I am having a really good time planning my next Roaming Ear adventure. The plans are slowly evolving, and involve (so far) a housesitting gig in Toronto, a month long trip to Guatemala, back to Bear River Nova Scotia and then ..???
A few years ago I went on the road and supported my travel habit by housesitting. That’s what I’m planning again. I’ve been researching housesitting sites .. the most promising thus far is called Housecarer.
I get the impression it’s still a new site .. there aren’t a lot of listings yet. But I was pleasantly surprised. I was amazed to see a listing for Comber, Ontario, which is a small (very) southwestern Ontario village 5 kilometers down the road from Ruscom, the even smaller village where I was born.
So I’m going to register and keep an eye out for possibilities. Right now I’m thinking Montreal might be nice so I can practique ma francaise (I really need to, don’t I?). But if a good possibility comes up in Greece or Uzbekistan, maybe I’ll consider that too.
As long as there are good sounds to be found.
And speaking of good sounds, production of Roaming Ear #5 begins in 7 minutes. This one is abstract soundscapes of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.
It’s always a tough decision trying to figure out what to do next. There are lots of topics I want to do and lots that I have already done just waiting to be packaged and uploaded.
A lot of people have asked me about the art-based compositions I do. So I’ve decided to show you next time around.
I did a sound suite at the turn of the century up in Ottawa called Capital Resoundings. The purpose of the project was to document what the city sounded like at that point in time, and then take those sounds and turn them into compositions that were my subjective impressions of four locations.
So I’ll play a couple of the pieces in the Capital Resoundings suite. I’ll have it done and posted by July 15. Stay tuned. (And if you don’t want to wait, go to the link above and you can hear some of the compositions and read my soundwalks on line)
I’m thinking a lot about soundwalks these days .. my next episode of The Roaming Ear is a conversation about my ideas on soundwalking, and also a couple of my friends.
I’ll post the link once I get it uploaded later today. In the meantime, here’s another take on soundwalking.
I got an email from a company in New York City that sells soundwalks … if you’re going to be going to NYC and a few other places in the world, you can download a map and an mp3 so you can walk the route yourself. They charge for a soundwalk, but it’s only $12.00. Great that they’ve found a way to pay themselves for their hard work ..
These pieces are highly composed and beautiful and well worth the modest price. They’re not just your standard audio tour “and on the left we see the place where the Bastille was stormed in whatever date”. It’s not dry narration. They’re stories of places, locations, sounds that you won’t necessarily hear in real time … worth listening to even if you’re an armchair traveller.
Good work! Oh yes, you can find them at www.soundwalk.com
Soundwalking is a meditative practice that I use to connect with the environment I find myself in.
You can do a soundwalk anywhere. Wherever there is sound, you have the necessary ingredients for a soundwalk. A soundwalk is a time to focus on nothing but the sounds around you. It is like a meditation, but is different because a meditation is usually about listening to the sounds inside. The soundwalk is about connecting with the outer world.
In the words of one of my mentors, Hildegard Westerkamp, who introduced me to soundwalking:
“A soundwalk is any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are. We may be at home, we may be walking across a downtown street, through a park, along the beach; we may be sitting in a doctor’s office, in a hotel lobby, in a bank; we may be shopping in a supermarket, a department store, or a Chinese grocery store; we
may be standing at the airport, the train station, the bus-stop. Wherever we go we will give our ears priority.”
I have written my own article about how I do a soundwalk. You can find it here.
On my Magnetic Spirits website, you can also hear how I take the sounds recorded in my soundwalks and turn them into art pieces. Much like an artist will set up his easel in the middle of the woods, I take my microphone, gather sounds and then compose them back in the studio.
I’m documenting the soundscape, but I am going further than that .. I am then taking the sounds and creating a work which reflects what the person, place or event is saying to me