Sound Walk Reflection

A sound walk can be referred to as a listening exercise that assists individuals to become aware of their surrounding’s acoustic environment. Generally, sound walk includes all excursions which their main purpose is environmental listening.  Sound walk mostly take place in wilderness, countryside, town and other various mediated areas. The exercise can be done either as a group or individually and it might be recorded or not. The exercise motivates individuals to engage themselves in listening exercises and perceive different sounds in a specific environment. Sounds travel through vibrations that usually combine to make unique sound waves depending on the sound source. When individuals are attentive, they can judge the presence of imbalances and balances brought about by these sounds in a sonic environment. The sound walk exercise can also be an essential activity to determine natural sounds associated with the ground and identify other sounds caused by humans from the same ground.  Even though sound walk may appear like any other hiking walk, the sound walk includes walking action and listening activities that bring the attention of the audience details that are often assumed, such as sounds, practices, events, and processes. 

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One of the weekends, I decided to go to a nearby arboretum for a sound walk. I intended to excise listening in line with our previous class lesson. While in the arboretum, I realized that the forest host a lot of natural creatures that make distinct sounds. Among those sounds include the whistling sound of the wind as it blows through the trees and various chirping sounds produced by different birds.  Also, I realized that forest terrain is characterized by multiple humming and buzzing sounds produced by different insects within the forest. Besides, I could also hear creaking sounds produced by toads and frogs from streams passing across the arboretum. I could also note Breaking sounds from the trees, as weak and dry twigs were being broken by the wind and small tree jumping animals. I also noted Crabbing and Chattering sounds that were being produced by various animals such as monkeys in the arboretum. Lastly, I also noted a roaring sound produced by the falling water, and I could quickly tell there were waterfalls nearby. From my sound walk experience, I realized that there are so many ignored sounds that can only be noted when interested in sound listening.

The tree terrain contains a hi-fi soundscape that an individual can listen to and discern various discrete sounds vividly and without interruption. According to Schaffer,  a  hi-fi soundscape refers to a soundscape with a  good signal-to-noise ratio, to the extent that sounds are clearly and apparently distinguishable because of reduced ambient noise levels (Schaffer, 2004).  From my experience, I relished that arboretum sounds authenticity is indissoluble. This is because most of the sounds came directly from their producers, although there few sounds that had schizophonia because of echoes. I also noted that not all artificial sounds are pleasant; some are wired, and they can be unbearable to specific individuals. For instance, croaking sounds from the frogs were bothersome, and they kept interfering with my focus on other sounds.  However, I enjoyed breaking, whistling, cracking, chattering, and scrabbling sounds. Buzzing sounds produced by insects were also fascinating, especially when tried to distinguish particular insects producing them. However, they were also boring, especially when I walked to a place where the sound emanated from and the specific insect could switch off.    

The combination of sounds from various sources in the arboretum was magical to the extent that they carried my full attention. The psithurism enhanced high connection with the arboretum. The humming melodies were terrific as they caressed my mind. These sounds also made me release all my unrevealed emotions for scrutiny. Moreover, the whistling sounds and the crunching sounds that I made upon stepping on the dry leaves were also exciting. The arboretum sonic environment also enabled me to have deep meditation from my experienced a confirmed Schafer’s statement that the sounds of nature are therapeutic (Schafer 2004). The serene and the silence of the arboretum were incredible. The exciting sounds and arboretum nature carried away my thought until they were interrupted by thunderstorms sound, and that the time I realized it was about to rain.

 According to Lopez (2004), sounds in arboretum or forest terrain are prone to dislocation of space and time. Scientifically, sound travels spherically through space, just like the light waves. When substances block sound waves, they are either reflected, absorbed.or transmitted.  Moreover, forests’ architectural aspects are characterized by natural features. For example, the squeezed forest has more interruptions than a sparse forest.

Moreover, it should be noted that the forest’s organic soil is characterized by high porosity. This characteristic enables these soils to absorb loud noises, creating a quiet and serene forest environment. Besides, the sound cannot transverse through corners and various barriers. Sound-absorbing and sound-blocking objects help limit the effect of loud noises in the forest and, therefore, enhance the quiet environment in the forest.

Natural sound aspects that exist in the forest also enhances the sonic environment. The forest’s atmosphere’s tranquility does not result from quietness or the availability of artificial sounds. The senses’ interplay in the forest is sometimes impaired because one may not always see the exact origin of the sound. Mostly, echoed sounds are typical in woods. Based on the obstacle’s closeness, sounds move from distinct origins within the forest as they are reflected by rocks and trees (Akiyama, 2010).  Forest’s Constant sounds in the sonic space also play a crucial role in listening enhancement. For example, flowing water sounds from the rivers and springs diversify the sonic space suppressing unwanted sounds.

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Notably, the sonic environment aspect such as those discussed above sometimes overlap and alters the usual sonic forest experience. Generally, these overlapping effects come from changing conditions of weather. For example, heavy rainfall causes the river and waterfalls to roar louder due to the increased water amount brought about by rain. Moreover, birds and animals’ sound diminishes, as most of them hide in their habitats to cover themselves from rain. Also, thunderstorms alter forest sonic space significantly as sound from thunder is echoed throughout the forest (Lopez, 2004). This echo tends to affect birds, insects, and animal’s normal operations because they are terrified by such loud sounds. When it is windy, the whistling and rustling sound increase as plant branches are swung by the wind. Moreover, birds produce more sounds as they become more playful as the branches and twigs are swayed by the wind.

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In conclusion, the sound walk is exciting leisure and therapeutic activity that includes walking action and listening activities that bring to the attention of the audiences the sounds that are often assumed. The hi-fi soundscape enables individuals to listen to different sounds in the forest clearly. The psithurism in the sonic environment of the forest enhances the deep connection of nature and the individual, allowing someone to meditate. Humming, Chirping, scrabbling, and chattering sounds were pleasant, whereas roaring and crocking sounds were disturbing.  Forests Architectural aspects depend on the vegetation cover component. Furthermore, the artificial aspects of the forest also allow harmonizing sounds to develop an ambient sonic experience. Finally, the natural and architectural aspects overlap enhances a conducive sonic forest environment.

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