The man who seeks the sound of silence

Gordon Hempton is an "acoustic ecologist" and field recording artist who seeks out the places on Earth that are free of noise pollution. The episode below of the Generation Anthropocene podcast features Hempton's story and some of his favorite recordings of the natural environment. For more from Hempton, check out his book "One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Quest to Preserve Quiet."

(top photo by Richard Darbonne) Read the rest

David Byrne on silence

Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne's new book, "How Music Works," is a combination personal artistic memoir and cultural/scientific exploration of music -- what it is, how it's made, and what it means. (Cory's review of the book is here.) Smithsonian has posted a fascinating excerpt from "How Music Works" that includes a riff on the beauty of silence (photo by Bart Nagel):

In 1969, Unesco passed a resolution outlining a human right that doesn’t get talked about much—the right to silence. I think they’re referring to what happens if a noisy factory gets built beside your house, or a shooting range, or if a disco opens downstairs. They don’t mean you can demand that a restaurant turn off the classic rock tunes it’s playing, or that you can muzzle the guy next to you on the train yelling into his cellphone. It’s a nice thought though—despite our innate dread of absolute silence, we should have the right to take an occasional aural break, to experience, however briefly, a moment or two of sonic fresh air. To have a meditative moment, a head-clearing space, is a nice idea for a human right.

John Cage wrote a book called, somewhat ironically, Silence. Ironic because he was increasingly becoming notorious for noise and chaos in his compositions. He once claimed that silence doesn’t exist for us. In a quest to experience it, he went into an anechoic chamber, a room isolated from all outside sounds, with walls designed to inhibit the reflection of sounds.

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Video: The Pinky Show, "The Desert is Quiet"

[Video Link] Hard to explain this web series, and this particular episode. Cats. Philosophy. Emptiness. Best to just watch. (via Andrea James) Read the rest