Listen to Your Landscape


Have you ever thought about determining the health of a landscape just by listening?

Bernie Krause does with the act of soundscaping.

Krause, a musician and PhD in bioacoustics, says that if you listen close enough, the sounds you hear can be an effective tool to evaluate the health and habitat of an area.

“For Krause, a soundscape is, first and foremost, an aggregate of sounds which are captured and then displayed according to their wavelength,” according to Worldcrunch.

Each landscape has its own unique sound signature.

The idea sounds a bit crazy, but in the end, I think it works.

Each soundscape is made up of three parts: the geophony, the biophony and the anthrophony.

The geophony is made up sounds that come from the Earth (thunder, lightning, wind, ect.). Biophony is the sounds of wild animals, and anthrophony are sounds from humans.

Now, whether you believe in this study or not, the part that seemed to intrigue me the most is that Krause says what he finds most troubling is the silence.

He used the example of Lincoln Meadow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

“In 1988, a forestry company convinced the Lincoln Meadow residents that their planned program of selective logging of the forest would not have any appreciable impact on the landscape,” the article states. “Before the inhabitants gave their consent, Krause recorded the landscape’s sound signature. Twelve months and one selective logging of the forest later, he showed us two photos of the area.

“There was no appreciable difference. Had the operation been successful? One would think so. What did the sound signature say? Krause played for us 30 seconds or so of the recording from before and then after. The recording was supported by two comparative spectrograms. The finding was that the birds of Lincoln Meadow had been all but silenced.”

It’s nice to catch the beauty of a landscape after a completed project, but creating a natural habitat for wildlife should be a priority as well.

Start listening to your newly created landscape to see if it was truly a success. 

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