Each July 18th, the World Listening Project celebrates the World Listening Day: a global community event that seeks to generate a collective reflection around the way we listen our environment. This date was selected because it’s the birthday of Murray Schafer, who with his World Soundscape Project developed in the seventies the foundations of the acoustic ecology as we know it.
This year, the WLD theme “Listening with” was proposed by sound artist Annea Lockwood. Listen with awareness, taking notice of the subtle network that connects us to other organisms -human o not- with whom we share planet.
Each soundscape, as Brando LaBelle says, is composed by “all sounds that flow and get carried along the full body of the sound spectrum, from above and below audibility, as pure energy, molecular movement, in fractions of sonority that integrate through a reciprocal intersubjectivity human experience with the earthly whole.”
Ursound, each harmony is a translucent thread that reaches out to the most remote regions of the macro (micro) cosmos. Listen with care, with a bit of vertigo, to those frequencies that are beyond the human scale. All our languages contain in themselves the history of our listening.
This project began in Pereira, Colombia, where I had the fortune to meet Cecilia Bajour in a seminar; during her conference, she mentioned that silence is only posible through the presence of another. Silence is also a dialogue, a starting point. My voice also contains my absences, my voids. When I record, I seek to capture in some way the sound of my ghosts.
I don’t always like what I listen: kids crying inside a cage, pink crosses in a dessert. Static, obscure interference of a mass grave and of those who are lost in the sea while fleeing war. The sizzling, crackling of the flames consuming a tropical forest; the same one in which I learned long ago to take notice. How to keep recording in these times that for moments taste like end of the world? Listen with, remain in our grief it's what Annea Lockwood proposes us.
After issuing my invitations for Little sounds, it dawned to me that the title of this project it's almost the same as Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors. In the unconscious nothing happens by chance: in Little Labors, Rivka writes about sharing space and silence with the Puma, her baby daughter. The literary language, unlike it may seem, comes precisely from this intimate, domestic sphere.
Even those epic poems that celebrate war contain in themselves the echo of our first lullabies.
To collect little sounds, to plunge into the daily routines of other people in search of that primordial rhythm that defines us as human beings. To witness the listening of the others and reassert ourselves with in the void, in the absence, with all our vulnerability. To bring life to the fore with all its chaos: voices rehearsing, song, prayer, steps, frog and a storm rebuilt with rain from different times and places; purring, a pause, the tick-tock of a clock.
Shall I speak again about mermaids?
I can’t help it but promise to be brief: tied to the mast, Odysseus goes crazy listening to them. They promise to sing him about his deeds in Troy. Come Odysseus, we’ll tell you who you are… The mermaid’s song, the desire to grasp that bit of knowledge that will allow us to become eternal.
Our listening, though, will remain alway incomplete: otherwise we would need to listen simultaneously inside and away from ourselves. The closer I may get to comprehend how some else listens is lending my recorder; but even then, what I may grasp is only scraps that -wish it or not- I’ll end up arranging according to my own narrative.
Little sounds is a collective project: this soundscape is only the last stage of a performance that began two weeks ago. The audio files were sent by people from different places to whom I asked to share with me a sound that, although most of the times went unnoticed, it was an important part of their environment and/or routine. The only specification was that the audio had to be nine seconds long. Some persons joined forces and sent me longer recordings, others required no more than five seconds and others decided to record what they wanted letting me to chose a fragment. In some cases, I couldn’t cut much even if I knew I was breaking my own rules.
I suppose some sounds occupy more space inside a seashell than others.
Sometimes, the audio files arrived also with brief stories, small accounts about the moment in which the recording was made and what it meant to its author. The wind blowing and the frogs that lull you to sleep, the whistle of the tea kettle that makes you feel for the first time in the year that summer has come; the first laugh of your kid, a visit to the beach, the sound of waves intertwined with the breathing of your loved ones in their sleep.
It took me time to listen to all this moments and figure out how to arrange them. Some fragments had to remain to keep their brilliance while others seemed to fare better in groups. Except for the volume levels, I didn’t change anything. Still, it’s imposible not to have a filter: to listen is to translate. There’s no way I can render all the things I felt while listening to all these little sounds.
Pequeños sonidos / Little sounds
(If you don’t have Soundcloud in your smartphone, there’s no problem: select the “listen in browser” option that appears below the orange rectangle.)
Abril Castillo, Adolfo Córdova, Adriana Medina, Alaíde Ventura, Alejandra Eme Vázquez, Alejandro Pizarnik, Alma Espinosa, Aline Aznar, Amanda Mijangos, Ana Rosa Gómez Camacho, Andrea Basef, Andrea Marra, Arturo Ruiz, Berenice Bautista, Cecilia Bajour, Claudia López de Lara, Dalina Flores, Daniela Pabon, David Reynoso, Elsa Gómez Camacho, Enrique Morales, Ernesto Durand, Estívaliz Espinosa Río, Eva Mejuto, Familia Ruiz Aguilera, Gabriel Briceño, Gabriela Damián, Georgina Lázaro, Geraldo Chávez, Isa Saturno, Itzel Riva Palacio, Ixchel Delgado Jordá, Jorge Soliz Arenazas, Kazumi Uno, Liane Daza, Lili Gelman, Kathleen Moorthamer, María José Ferrada, María José Torreblanca, Maria McManus, Mariana Fernández, Mariela Sancari, Marzua Music, Melba Escobar, Mercè López, Mercedes Calvo, Mónica Gontovnik, Mónica Pallares, Monique Zepeda, Nury Delgado, Pancho Ortega, Pilar Nieto, Pilar Obón, Rodrigo Morlesin, Salma Guzmán, Vicky García y Yesica Prado.
Thanks a lot for being part of this experiment!
Where and when?
Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Turkey, United States, Sweden, Uruguay, Venezuela; Balconies, avenues, by the sea, by the rivers, rain forests, museums, trains, inside many houses, in the morning, evening and night.