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3. Re: Simultaneous recording with two digital recorders?

Subject: 3. Re: Simultaneous recording with two digital recorders?
From: "Andrew Skeoch" listeningearth
Date: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:16 am ((PDT))
Thanks for the responses. I'd like to pick up on Blaine's (?) comment; for me 
it highlights the crux of the issue:

>> I disagree. Unless we purposefully listen to the cacophony of the whole what 
>> we normally do is listen to the individual sources in a soundscape, picking 
>> them out and perhaps studying their interrelationships with other sounds. 
>> That we would process sounds much like we process sights or even scent or 
>> other senses might be more logical.
>> B. Hebert

We certainly can listen like that, and 'normally' do. But I reckon it is a 
degenerate use of our sense, and contributes a limited perception of the world 
around us, particularly the natural world. Our ancestors very likely had a more 
expansive listening sense (as indigenous people can still display), and it is 
this holistic sense that I enjoy in listening to nature. 

A key appreciation here is that in nature, the whole is NOT a cacophony. The 
natural soundscape is structured, ordered, refined and rich in information. 
Bernie Krause has done fascinating work in exploring this understanding, and 
put it so well in his recent book, so I'm sure most of us are aware of it.

Holistic listening is something we are familiar with in music: you wouldn't 
claim to appreciate Mahler by spending an hour and a half with a symphony ONLY 
listening to the oboist. Or their relationship with the flautist seated nearby. 
With music, the meaning is found in hearing the whole. 

The same is true of nature. As Gordon Hempton has said simply; a broad, 
'landscape-scale' listening is about just taking the whole thing in at once. It 
is more about being than analysing. 

By contrast, our urban soundscapes are full of sounds that are disconnected and 
unrelated. If we practice expansive listening in a modern city, we'll learn 
about the status of our computer fan, the air conditioning, flightpaths, 
traffic build up in the street outside, any local building works and when 
someone's being rushed to hospital. All of which gives us information, but it 
is fragmented, and more crucially, not relevant. So we filter it out as 
'noise'. We focus on what is 'interesting'. Our perception becomes linear and 
pointed. To use Blaine's word: logical. 

Unfortunately, there is a cost in this. Many costs actually. 

As individuals, I suspect the relaxation people associate with listening to 
nature sounds, has more to do with the brain taking a well-earned break from so 
actively filtering out noise.

Collectively, we seem to have developed a kind of autism to life and nature 
around us. I just don't think we modern humans 'get' nature - our relationship 
with it and our responsibility to it. I'm sure I'm not alone here in saying 
that I repeatedly get shallow responses from people when I say I record nature 
sounds. I'm pigeon holed into various birdo/relaxation/new age or film/TV 
associations. Even my own mother used to say to me "yes, but who buys your 

So I'm keenly aware that the way I hear the natural world is not widely 
reflected in our popular, cultural paradigm! 

Coming back to discussing the technology of nature recording - focused 
listening is facilitated by directional microphones and parabolic reflectors, 
even multi-input/recorder rigs (which this thread began discussing long ago), 
whilst expansive listening is represented in single point stereo or binaural 

There - we're back where we started. Now I need to attend to some house 
cleaning. We're having friends over for dinner tonight and we'll be listening 
to music. Appropriately - Mahler. 

Best to all, 


Listening Earth
Andrew Skeoch & Sarah Koschak

P.O. Box 188
Victoria  3450

tel: +61 3 5476 2609

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