Listening is about more than hearing as we discover with four individuals for whom listening is very much the focus of their lives; indeed motivates their working lives. Hildegard Westerkamp is a composer whose compositions are concerned with acoustic ecology and soundscape listening. One of her earliest memories of consciously listening was when her piano teacher " would literally stop me and say listen to what you just played ... listen to your touch with the piano". Then when she was a student she attended a lecture by Murray Schafer who founded the World Soundscape project and "literally felt my ears had been opened ". Today Hildegard is part of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective - a group of people who meet to take part in soundwalks; walks during which participants are asked not to talk but to listen. Acoustic ecologist Phil Morton runs similar walks in Liverpool. The focused listening which happens in these walks can become meditative. Participants not only become more aware of the sounds outside them but also start to listen to the sounds within themselves.
"What drew me was a life centred on listening to God and listening to other people so I'd then be able to devote my life to serving God and to serving the needs of other people" explains Fr. Christopher Jamison on why he become a Benedictine Monk and "listening lies at the foundations of the work of any priest and listening lies at the foundation of the whole monastic way of life ". Listening is also very much the focus of forensic speech analyst Peter French " I'm not listening so much as to what is being said but to how its being said" and in some cases it's what being said in the background behind the speech that is of interest and provides clues as to where a recording is made, as we discover.
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Fr. Christopher Jamison
Hildegard Westerkamp is a composer, more specifically a soundscape composer, and her compositions are concerned with acoustic ecology, soundscape and listening. She is also a founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Hildegard is also a founding member of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective.
Phil Morton is an acoustic ecologist based in Liverpool and describes himself as le flaneur scouser. He leads soundwalks in Liverpool.
Information on some of his previous soundwalks: