Wonder what the evening walk home in a suburb of Hoi An, Vietnam sounds like? Or a trek through a remote corner of the Amazonian Jungle? Curious what a man standing by the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg, Berlin hears? Or a woman sitting in the courtyard of a hotel in Budapest? Now you can travel without leaving your bedroom, thanks to the work of those intent on mapping the world’s soundscapes.
For acoustic engineer and professor Trevor Cox, sound is as integral a part of travel as a beautiful vista and a microphone as indispensable as a camera. He’s trying to raise sonic awareness by creating a travel guide to the world’s acoustic wonders, such as the baptistery in Pisa that allows a person to sing with himself or the whistling language of the Canary Islands. He was also part of the BBC’s project to record endangered sounds like the songs of fish sellers in Luanda, Angola which are disappearing from aural landscapes every day.
In the natural world however, its human sounds like the rumble of logging machinery that are disrupting nature’s soundscapes. Bernie Krauss is a pioneer in the field of bio-acoustics and the man who coined the term biophony – the spectrum of sound made by non-human organisms – and invented the “niche hypothesis” – the idea that each animal in a habitat occupies a specific range of the biological sound spectrum. He’s developed a plugin for Google Earth that adds a layer of soundscapes over users’ maps. Before setting out on your bio-acoustic journey, you’ll want to read up on the World’s Last Great Quiet Places, aurally pristine natural landscapes where the sound of silence is actually full of magical things we’ve simply learned to tune out.
Blog courtesy of: Wei-Ling Woo
Image credit: Fan Qiao Wang