Listening to the Woods and the Shore

By Rachel Bruch (aka Belia)

Have you ever been on a Sound Walk? As the current artists in residence at the Deanery Project in Ship Harbour, my partner Kurtis Eugene and I are busy exploring natural and human-made sounds along the shore, in the woods, and in the Deanery’s many buildings.

Exploring sound as a personal resource is part of the simple concept behind the Sound Walk. I developed this concept with Eugene last year out of a Creativity & Innovation workshop. Our work uses guided music improvisation alongside introductory music experiences to explore new access points of creative potential.  The power lies in what we call intentional listening.

On Saturday, January 6, 2018 at the Deanery, we walked with visitors along a beautiful trail, scaling down the slope to the waterfront. We paused frequently to attune to the soundscapes. These sounds are shaped by the diverse acoustics of earth, sky, trees, breath and, on this day, powerful cold winds in crescendo through the forest.  

Kurtis and I hope that those who came bundled against the weather to experience the Forest Sound Walk on Sunday also heard the silence when the wind finally fell. Perhaps that silence was felt rather than heard. Just as the driving rain against windows and windshields can cause a visceral stress or fear, sound as an emotional trigger has the potential to become a powerful resource for our health by stimulating positive emotional states instead. 

Active music making came later in the walk while participants took solace from the weather in The Teeny, a cozy natural building project next door to the Deanery. Starting with found instruments, sound-making tools gathered from nature outside, the group expanded creatively to clang stone against the cast iron stove, scrape ice from the window panes, and explore the deeper drum tones of the drying mud-plastered, light-straw clay walls. The newly installed fire crackled along as I got lost exploring the surprisingly bright timbre of nails and eyebolt against trowel. 

We always feel a sense of joy and gratitude in sharing this quirky method of interacting, a kind of free play that can be accessed simply by tuning in to the soundscapes created in every space. If you find yourself walking through the woods, listen for the symphony that walks with you. Perhaps you will pick up on the pitches created by your coat scraping against the tree branches. 

For more information about our creativity workshops, please contact us at seeingmusicbookings@gmail.com and stay tuned to The Deanery Project for a spring showcase of our projects.


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