Tag Archives: listening

Silence in the Conservatory

This week I participated in the Music & Silence workshop convened by the Science Museum and Nottingham University at the Royal College of Music. As part of the workshop, I was asked to respond to the previous events of the day. During my response, I played a recording I had made that morning of 4’33” of the sound inside the anechoic chamber that we visited at London South Bank University; I also composed the following poem in response to a live reading performance by Salomé Voegelin and Daniela Cascella. They read a series of text fragments from various sources they had strewn on the ground before them. My poem is made up of quotations of their improvised reading selections, in the reverse order of which they were heard during the reading. Fragments of fragments – an echoing. Continue reading


Sitting in a busy cafe, I am surrounded by sonic chaos: the grinding hiss of an espresso machine, the relentless chug of techno music on the sound system, the clinking of silverware, the thick walls of conversations vying for prominence within the din. The usual rules of sonic navigation no longer apply — Continue reading

Presence = Aura

Presence, as defined by audio recording engineers, is an ephemeral quality of sound, an almost instinctive sheen that is known when heard. A sound with presence is imbued with authenticity, it contains qualities that the listener believes to be real, to be live, to be happening in the same space as the listener. Continue reading

Phonography: The Process of Discomfort

I hit the RECORD button and I start to hurt – but most of that is probably just in my head.

Sitting quietly should make me calm, should relax me, but instead I usually tense up when making a field recording. My goal is to remove my sonic self from the world while capturing the sounds around me. I view myself as a ghost, as a watcher, as an instrument of collection. My goal is to have a pristine record of what it would sound like if I weren’t there.

But I am there, and I make noise. We all do, and more often than not we barely even realize it. Continue reading

On Listening


To listen is to “give attention,” as one dictionary meaning states. The act of listening is one of engaged compassion, a surrendering of one’s self to the never-ending sonic world around us – to the breeze that scatters dry leaves on an autumn afternoon; to the gravitational pull that causes waves to lap against a coastline; to the aesthetic mathematics that result in the composition of a melody; to the friend whose problems are temporarily eased by our willingness to attend to their utterances.

In an era where daily life is thick with the bombardment of mediated information, the act of truly listening is a radical downshifting of expected priorities, a trap sidestepped. Continue reading