Kathy Hinde

23 July, 2022

World Listening Day with Ecotones

It was a great coincidence that World Listening Day 2022 (18 July) coincided with the first day of the UK meet up of ECOTONES, an interdisciplinary research network seeking new ways to communicate an awareness of environmental issues through the soundscapes of trees. The network brought together researchers from UK and South Korea, starting with a 3 day series of workshops at Dartington. I facilitated a shared listening walk around the grounds, focussing on listening to trees using sensitive microphones, stethoscopes and our bare ears. We shared ideas by experimenting together to find ways to sensitise our listening and tune in to the minuscule sounds of insects moving behind the bark of a 2000 year old Yew tree, and attempted to sense the differences between the movements of different types of leaves in the wind. At dusk, we wandered down to the river to tune in to the ultrasonic world of bats and were not disappointed.

Later in the day acoustician Professor Jain Kang shared his research on how sound is absorbed and defused by trees and vegetation. During the following days, we further explored how to sensitise ourselves to the sounds of trees by working with composer Stevie Wishart and musician Hyelim Kim through listening exercises and collaborative sonic responses to the soundscape of trees. These experiments produced some memorable collective experiences including re-calibrated ourselves to become more attuned with the soundscape arounds us. We also learnt more about the benefits of forest healing in South Korea from Dr Jin Sook Kim and Dr Jin Gun Kim which further added to the fruitful sharing of ideas and experiences between different cultures.

What better way to explore the 2022 theme for World Listening Day – Listening across Boundaries – than with a cross cultural interdisciplinary research network exploring our relationship with the soundscape of trees. Here are some photos taken on the World Listening Day walk by Dartington’s resident photographer Kate Mount.