The Sunshine Coast sonic explorers workshops were assisted by Sophie Jung, a talented music technology student from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane. Sophie has written some reflections on the workshops for the sonic explorers blog:
Even though the weather was rainy throughout, Sonic Explorers Workshops (from 23rd to 28th of June) finished successfully with the participation of over forty young people. It was my first time participating in the TreeLine 2012 project. Therefore, everything was new for me - daily commuting from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast by train, working with a group of kids, recording the underwater sounds as well as the sounds of the forest, and creating soundscape music. All were new but now all have become like old, long-standing lessons to me. To have an opportunity to work with Leah Barclay was a great experience. In this short review, I share with you what I have learned from Leah, the participants and the forest.
First of all, Leah’s ideas of ‘Sonic Explorers’ and ‘Sound Map’ were excellent. Indeed, all the participants were explorers looking for the sounds in the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden. The sounds from the garden as well as young people’s music using the captured sounds were preserved and marked on the Sonic Explorers sound map (www.sonicexplorers.org). These historical recording data will let us know about the sonic environmental changes as years go by.
It was my great pleasure to watch the young students find joy while they recorded the sounds of nature and created their own music. Before we went out for recording, Leah explained the project and the concept of the soundscape. During the short presentation, the students shared about their favorite sounds. Interestingly, ‘silence’ was one of their favourites. While recording, they were very enthusiastic to record the sounds around them and there was no hesitation about the recording tools. All of them were amazed by the underwater sounds recorded with the hydrophone microphone. We were fortunate to record some insects under water using the microphone. After the recording, Leah proficiently led students to collaborate in creating their own music. The interactive process was very impressive, and I was surprised how actively the students chose their best recordings and sample sounds in Logic Pro. Although they had no experience of creating, it did not hinder their creativity.
As the botanic garden has thick rainforest, the environment has unique sonic characteristics with the variety of birds, the fresh sounds of wind in the canopy and rain drops on the leaves. All the sounds were vey beautiful, relaxing and pleasant to listen to, and I enjoyed them very much. Also, I found myself able to fully and easily concentrate on listening to the natural sounds while I was at Ephemeral Wetlands in the forest, where the Tree Songs Installation (1st of July) took place. It is such a perfect place to concentrate on the sounds of nature, because it has a narrow walking path with tall trees on both sides, with thick leaves covering the path, and a small creek running alongside. Therefore, we could listen to the layers of sound of rustlings, foot steps, water, wind, and birds near and far.
For the final performance, Leah and I installed our compositions on the trees using small speakers placed at ear level, taking into account the size and position of the trees. We considered the tree lines, the distance between the tress, ear-level and stereo positions of the trees. The audience were blindfolded and guided along the path by Leah. As their eyes were blindfolded, they could carefully listen to the sounds around them. It was amazing that the birds in the forest sometimes responded with singing to the music we installed. All the sounds from the speakers and from the forest mingled with each other very naturally. Also, the audience (over fifty people on that day) seemed to enjoy the sonic exploring a lot. I have learned that when I take the time to listen, nature gives back more awesome sounds than I expected.