Monday, 4 December 2017

How opening our ears can open our minds: Hildegard Westerkamp

"Soundscape composer Hildegard Westerkamp hears the world differently than most people. Where many of us might hear noise, she uncovers extraordinary beauty and meaning. It's all in how we listen to our environment. 

In this interview, Paul Kennedy joined Hildegard Westerkamp on a sound-walk through Vancouver's downtown eastside, and explored how opening our ears to our surroundings can open our minds.

Westerkamp uses environmental sounds her instruments. She refrains from using any effects, and feels it is important to do her own field recording as opposed to using pre-recorded sounds and it encourages her to listen actively. When in the studio, re-listening to her field recordings, Westerkamp often picks up on other sounds that she had not previously heard because she does not have as many other sounds competing for her attention.

"To be in the present as a listener is a revolutionary act. We absolutely need it, to be grounded in that way."

She comments that people no longer practice listening to the environment, are afraid of silence and so turn to music to fill the perceived void.

"People are afraid of silence, because it's perceived as a vacuum. It's not perceived as a source of inspiration…. The tools to search out the environmental sounds that heal us have been lessened as a result."

"Listening will help us reconnect to the environment. If we can understand what listening can do to reconnect us to our environment, we can understand what's happening to our environment... we would be enriched, hugely."

To listen to the interview and sound walk visit:

To find out more about Hildegard Westerkamp, visit:

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