Hearing Our Place


What can we learn from listening to the natural world?

Nature is rich in acoustic communication: birdsong, frog choruses, animal calls, summer cicadas, plus the micro-vibrational worlds of aquatic life and tiny insects. Tuning in to these sounds takes us on a journey of discovery into what nature is telling us, and the living processes of whole ecologies.

Andrew Skeoch, an educator, naturalist, environmental thinker, and one of Australia's best-known nature sound recordists, will explore the topic of deep listening to our earth at the upcoming Doonan Open Data Expo, held on Friday, 21 June at the Doonan Creek Environmental Reserve.

Founded on offering practical listening skills, Andrew's presentations feature spectacular recordings and visual analysis to demonstrate how sound can open our understanding of nature around us.

"Listening is such a personal way of being present in nature. Whether we listen to understand or for the simple enjoyment of hearing beauty, the natural soundscape enriches our lives. In listening, we can find new ways of valuing the natural world.”   

Together with his partner, photographer Sarah Koschak, he established the independent label Listening Earth in 1993 to publish immersive nature soundscape recordings.

This work has since taken him around the world, documenting the sounds of iconic landscapes and threatened ecosystems. The resulting recordings have been published as likely the largest catalogue of its kind: more than 100 nature albums available for online download, free streaming and via digital music platforms.

Andrew's first-hand experiences in natural habitats from rainforests to the tundra, combined with deep reflection on how to listen to nature, inform his educative work.

Through a sharing of ideas, supported by spectacular recordings and visual analysis, he seeks to address the fundamental question of our human relationship with the living biosphere.

This personal yet broad perspective has led to invitations to talk to a wide range of audiences. In 2017 he presented at TedX in Canberra, delivering a succinct talk consolidating his key understandings. One of his several presentations at the Woodford Folk Festival was recorded by the ABC and broadcast on its 'Big Ideas' program. He has also been a keynote speaker at academic conferences and regularly teaches at universities, schools and for community organisations.

Andrew is also president of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group, the premier association for nature field recordists in this country, and he coordinates the group’s biennial workshop which encourages skills and passion in a new generation of enthusiasts.

As much as anything, Andrew describes himself as a listener, hearing his place in the world.

"I feel that we need to listen to the natural world afresh, and hear ourselves as part of it. This connection, both personal and social, is a celebration of our relationship to all life, and can richly inform our role as caring custodians of a fragile biosphere."

To hear Andrew present his work and guidance on deep listening, come along to the Doonan Open Data Expo on June 21 at the Doonan Creek Environmental Reserve.

At this zero waste event, there will be several other speakers, workshops, tree planting, and exhibits where you can be part of the immersive encounters with creatures and forests where answers are revealed.

To register and for more information, please visit council’s Event website: events.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au


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