How is your sense of place informed by the sounds that surround you?
After decades of living in the northern NSW region of Australia I am pretty familiar with its sights and sounds. It is an idyllic area with forests, farmland, towns, rivers and beaches however this year I have felt a growing fatigue towards its rural limitations. In turn this has fostered a certain deafness towards its sonic diversity. It is an affective deafness driven by an impatience to explore new areas. Wanderlust!
This morning, on a whim, I drove a few minutes from home and walked into the local forest. It is an area I once visited regularly but have neglected to frequent for over 1-year.
I sat by a stream and listened to the surrounds …
… water dripped from a leaf into a small pool, birds called from trees overhead, a cricket chirped from somewhere in the undergrowth, flies buzzed around the microphone …
The recordings I made were unremarkable however the act of recording somehow reasserted my attachment to place. This is an experience many field recordists seem to mention. Listening to the waves of sound that pass around us we become immersed in our immediate environment. Our internal mapping of an area becomes multi-sensory. We find our position within it, realigning ourselves with its metre.
There in the forest life moved at a slower pace. The slow and steady rhythms in the gully calmed, albeit temporarily, the mental rush that has permeated much of 2016. It felt churlish to wish for something more.
On the way home I drove with the windows down, listening to all that I passed. Was it naive to think this moment would last?