Interview about Hildegard Westerkamp

Hildegard Westerkamp is a composer, radio artist and a sound ecologist, who’s respected in the field of soundscape studies and sound ecology, as well as a member of the World Soundscape Project. She does soundscape workshops, and also performs, writes and lectures internationally. She has been apart of the Vancouver Soundscape project since 1973, which was published as two LP’s and a book. She described this as a first attempt to conduct a comprehensive study of an entire urban soundscape.

A soundscape is the sound designs of a specific place, the science behind these sounds as well as the memories they give you. To study a soundscape you have to be willing to pay attention to the various sounds you hear, so you can comprehend and analyze these sounds. Sound and noise has changed over time significantly and studying soundscapes can give you an idea of how these changes have came. Studying these aspects of sound can also be applied to real life situations for many people and there various composers and artists. When she says “soundscapes recordings are excerpts of moments in time, nothing else”, she means these recordings capture different moments you experience throughout life and these sounds can sometimes always stick with you in your memories. Recordings are just a way to share these excerpts of moments in time with others.

A soundwalk is an attempt to listen and take in all the sounds around you no matter what type of environment you are in. To soundwalk you have to be open to listening to all sounds because trying to ignore sounds that may be meaningless or too loud defeats the purpose. Soundwalks can be done anywhere, at anytime and as often as you intend to. I think she feels that we owe it to our ears to be open to listening to everything, after all we can’t close our ears so we are going to hear them anyway. Our ears are supposed to exercise there natural function which is to hear, which will automatically send these sounds to our brains to be processed. The purpose of these soundwalks is to stay in touch with our sorroundings. Every sound has a different meaning no matter where we are. Natural sounds are just as important as the sounds that come from our cities, and she feels that soundwalking is important for our survival.

I think this artist and some interesting approaches and ideas on sounds and noise. I appreciate the people out there that do studies things that others including myself may take for granted. I think her work is interesting yet I do find it boring because its not something I would be into. I comment her on soundscaping, soundwalking and her composing because it is something that she is passionate about and she can share this with others and influence them to do the same. I know she has many follows and people who share her interests, and I hope she can one day say her involvement in the Vancouver Soundscape Project has paid off.

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