Shhh … do you hear that? It is the sound of World Listening Day approaching July 18.
World Listening Day is organized every year by the World Listening Project, a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to understanding the world and its natural environment, societies and cultures through the practice of listening and field recording. ” They explore acoustic ecology, a discipline that studies the relationship between humans and the natural world through sound.
It falls on July 18 to honor the birthday of Raymond Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer and environmentalist who is seen as the founder of acoustic ecology. World Listening Day was established in 2010, and each year the holiday has a specific related theme. Previous themes include “H20”, “Lost and Found Sounds” and “Listen to You!” This year’s theme is “Listening to the ground”, which asks us to consider the sounds of the literal ground on all its surfaces, from the ground to the asphalt, if we are losing metaphorical ground and if we can find new ground by listening to that. So calm down, open your ears and get ready to study soundscapes on World Listening Day.
HOW TO OBSERVE WORLD HEARING DAY
Go for a walk just listening
Choose a route, any route. Live near a beach? Take a walk on the ocean and listen to the waves. Or maybe you want to walk through the woods and listen to the sound of the wind going through the trees. If you don’t live near something like “nature,” walk a ten-block loop around your neighborhood. Take out your headphones, don’t say a word, and try to pay attention to each individual sound you hear on the go.
Organize a listening test
Use your phone to record lots of sounds from your surroundings, from a particular bird call to the sound of a truck driving down the street. Invite your family and friends to see if they can identify each sound as you play them.
Go to a concert
You don’t have to listen to natural sounds to appreciate the spirit of World Listening Day. Buy concert tickets: It could be a symphony with Beethoven, that new modern electronic musician in a cool underground club, a Led Zeppelin cover band in the back of a dive bar, whatever. No matter what genre, challenge yourself to turn off all the background noise from your concert buddies and really isolate and appreciate the sounds of music.
WHY WORLD HEARING DAY IS IMPORTANT
It gives us an excuse to calm down
Have you stopped to think how long words consume? If you say them, you are reading them, listening to someone else or even thinking about them. World Listening Day gives us a reason to get away from words and listen to sounds between and around you.
It makes us aware of the noises that make our lives sound.
Think of it this way: Depending on where you live and how you move throughout the day, each person has a completely unique soundtrack that plays behind their daily routine. Noise from the car, wind in your ears, cutlery hitting a plate, clicks of a keyboard, papers whispering … You are so used to these sounds that you probably don’t even think about the fact that you are listening to them. But we bet you will now, huh?
It applies to each and every environment.
Whether you live in the middle of a bustling city, in a quiet suburb, or on a remote farm, the principles of acoustic ecology can be applied to your life. That means you don’t have to strain to celebrate World Listening Day.