Environmental Recording and the Joys of Improvisation

My work encourages active or participatory listening. Most sound is experienced in a passive way. In day to day life our brains filter out most sound, only alerting our conscious mind when an important event such as speech or, a siren is detected. Even music with a previously known “hook”, evokes predictable memories or feelings triggered by a memorable chorus or groove without attention being based on the music itself. The unpredictable nature of improvised music and the careful presentation of environmental recordings encourage active listening i.e. engagement with the sounds themselves instead of experiencing them as a background to other activities. This can lead to a meditative state and a greater awareness of our environment. Pauline Oliveros, experimental musician and founder of the Deep Listening Institute, points out that listening is active and takes practice “Deep listening is a process, listening to everything all the time and reminding yourself when you are not listening; there is a difference between hearing and listening…”.