Von der Akustikökologie zum Soundscape in Schule und Alltag

Zurück zur Hauptseite.

Blatt 6: Soundwalk - Klangspaziergang

Soundwalk - Klangspaziergang 

Landschaft hören von Justin Winkler

"Hörend gehen"

Der von Schafer und seinen Mitarbeitern propagierte Hörspaziergang (listening walk) dient dem aufmerksamenDurchschreiten einer konkreten Umgebung; der Klangspaziergang (soundwalk) ist eine Variante, in der die Aufmerksamkeiteher dem Sammeln und Darstellen von ortsspezifischen Ereignissen dient; man kann in ihm auch das Kernelement eines Hörtagebuchs (sound journal) sehen. Die Künstlichkeit dieses Spaziergangs bezüglich der ihn rahmenden, das Hören inszenierenden Absichten hat einen hohen Sensibilisierungs-Wert und widerspricht der wissenschaftlichen Regel der

Unbeteiligtheit; der Begriff des teilnehmenden Hörspaziergang (participatory soundwalk, Westerkamp 1974) nähert sich einem von Gestaltungswillen getragenen Verhältnis zur angtroffenen Klangumwelt. Dabei soll nicht aus der Alltagswelt abgehoben werden; Hörspaziergänge finden in gänzlicher 'Unbewehrtheit' des Ohres statt, das heisst, sie stellen das Gegenstück zu aller elektroakustisch mediatisierten Klanglandschaft dar. Mit Hörspaziergängen ist der Zugang zum Thema Klanglandschaft bewusst positiv angelegt: Der oder die Hörende soll gemäss World Soundscape Project (1977, 80) nicht geschätzt, sondern muss exponiert werden, weil ohne eine Veränderung der Hörhaltung und einen Prozess des Bewusstwerdens weder Individuum noch Wissenschaftler Fortschritte machen können.

Soundwalking by Hildegard Westerkamp

In: Sound Heritage, Volume III Number 4 Victoria B.C., 1974, revised 2001

A soundwalk is any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are. We may be at home, we may be walking across a downtown street, through a park, along the beach; we may be sitting in a doctor's office, in a hotel lobby, in a bank; we may be shopping in a supermarket, a department store, or a Chinese grocery store; we may be standing at the airport, the train station, the bus-stop. Wherever we go we will give our ears priority. They have been neglected by us for a long time and, as a result, we have done little to develop an acoustic environment of good quality.

Listening in that way can be a painful, exhausting or a rather depressing experience, as our ears are exposed often to too many, too loud or too meaningless sounds. Trying to ignore them, however, makes even less sense. Since we cannot close our ears, we cannot help hearing all sounds. No matter how hard we try to ignore the input, the information enters the brain and wants to be processed. Physically and psychically, we still have to compensate for any noise even if our ears perceive it unconsciously. In addition and most importantly, we desensitize our aural faculties by shutting out sounds and thereby not allowing our ears to exercise their natural function.

Unless we listen with attention, there is a danger that some of the more delicate and quiet sounds may passunnoticed by numbed ears and among the many mechanized voices of modern soundscapes and may eventually disappear entirely. Our first soundwalk is thus purposely exposing listeners to the total content of their environmental composition, and is therefore very analytical. It is meant to be an intense introduction into the experience of uncompromised listening.

A soundwalk can be designed in many different ways. It can be done alone or with a friend (in the latter case the listening experience is more intense and can be a lot of fun when one person wears a blindfold and is led by the other). It can also be done in small groups, in which case it is always interesting to explore the interplay between group listening and individual listening by alternating between walking at a distance from or right in the middle of the group. A soundwalk can furthermore cover a wide area or it can just centre around one particular place. No matter what form a soundwalk takes, its focus is to rediscover and reactivate our sense of hearing.

The first soundwalk can be done anywhere, at any time, and as often as desired. For the sake of intensity it may be wise to limit the walk initially to a small area or even to one particular spot. Different people may spend varying lengths of time on this walk. In each case it depends on how long it takes to remove the initial hearing barriers, how deep the involvement is and how much fascination can be found in such an exploration.

Start by listening to the sounds of your body while moving. They are closest to you and establish the first dialogue between you and the environment. If you can hear even the quietest of these sounds you are moving through an environment which is scaled on human proportions. In other words, with your voice or your footsteps for instance, you are "talking" to your environment which then in turn responds by giving your sounds a specific acoustic quality.

(If, however, you cannot hear the sounds you yourself produce, you experience a soundscape out of balance. Human proportions have no meaning here. Not only are your voice and footsteps inaudible but also your ear is dealing with an overload of sound).

Continuoussoundscontinuous Continuoussoundscontinuous

Lead your ears away from these sounds and listen

What else?

What else?

What else?

What else?

So far you have isolated sounds from each other in your listening and gotten to know them as individual entities. But each one of them is part of a bigger environmental composition.

Therefore reassemble them all and listen to them as if to a piece of music played by many different instruments. Do you like what you hear? Pick out the sounds you like the most and create the ideal soundscape in the context of your present surroundings. What would be its main characteristics? Is it just an idealistic dream or could it be made a reality?

Soundwalk Composition

This kind of soundwalk is basically similar to the above ones, except that its main purpose is aesthetic rather than practical.

Go out and listen. Choose an acoustic environment which in your opinion sets a good base for your environmental compositions. In the same way in which architects acquaint themselves with the landscape into which they want to integrate the shape of a house, so we must get to know the main characteristics of the soundscape into which we want to immerse our own sounds. What kinds of rhythms does it contain, what kinds of pitches, how many continuous sounds, how many and what kinds of discrete sounds, etc. Which sounds can you produce that add to the quality of the environmental music? Create a dialogue and thereby lift the environmental sounds out of their context into the context of your composition, and in turn make your sounds a natural part of the music around you. Is it possible?