november one:


about the november 1 walk

November 1 is All Saints Day. Preceded by Halloween on the 31st of October and followed by All Souls Day on the 2nd, this stretch of days is a time, in many traditions and faiths, to honor the departed - a time to visit resting places and make offerings and a time to acknowledge the living spirit that moves around us. Like every other day, November 1 is also a day to listen - here in NY we listen into the rushing wind and scattering of leaves as winter approaches. We listen to know what is underneath, to sense the movement in what appears to be stillness, to hear the sound in what appears to be silence. I began organizing extreme slow soundwalks on November 1st, 2003 and have done them each year since.

more about the extreme_slow_soundwalk and soundwalks in general

The extreme slow walk is a teaching of Pauline Oliveros and a practice of Deep Listening®. The walker moves in the slowest possible way - one foot moving through each point, shifting weight almost imperceptibly into the ground, transferring balance from one leg to the other, knowing always that "no matter how slow you are walking you can always go much slower...The purpose of the exercise is to challenge your normal pattern or rhythm of walking so that you can learn to reconnect with very subtle energies in the body as the weight shifts from side to side in an extremely slow walk." (Pauline Oliveros, from her book, "Deep Listening: A Composers' Sound Practice").

The soundwalk is a practice of focused listening in which one moves through an environment with complete attention to sound. Any environment, at any time of day or night, can provide space for soundwalking. Sometimes the walks are guided by a written or verbal instruction (a "score") and sometimes not. The participants may walk blindfolded, or stand still, or move in response to the soundfield. Sometimes the walker activates the soundscape - "playing along" with the sounds - using the voice, musical instruments or objects encountered along the way. On occasion the walks are recorded and other times they are simply free form ambles through sound filled places. The walks are usually followed by an informal conversation about the experience.

There exists a 30-year plus history of soundwalking, particularly among soundscape composers who work, either through electronic or acoustic means, with the sounds of natural and built environments. Under the guidance of R. Murray Schafer, a small group of musicians and activists set forth on the World Soundscape Project in the early 1970s in an attempt to document and raise awareness of the world's acoustic environments. Myriad recordings and publications arose from this process and the work of the World Soundscape Project, with it's legacy of soundwalking, soundscape documentation and acoustic awareness, continues to inspire composers, artists and acoustic ecologists today.

Some of the many people who have been influenced by and expanded upon this work include Darren Copeland, Victoria Fenner, Kathy Kennedy, Andra McCartney, Barry Truax, and Hildegard Westerkamp. Sound artist and educator Andra MaCartney's website on soundwalking is a great place for more details. And the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology is an excellent starting point for more information about noise and health issues related to sound, writing and research about sound, and art about sound.  The WFAE site is also the place to check for updates on local sound news and events occurring in acoustic ecology affiliate organizations around the world. Those in the New York Region can visit the NY Chapter of the American Society for Acoustic Ecology and also check out acoustic ecology events on the Electronic Music Foundation's website.