Hannah and Glenna’s Outside Day!

-Sounds heard on soundwalk: wind, greenhouse fans, footsteps, conversation, opening doors, lab sounds, coughing

-Locations: outside greenhouse, inside greenhouse, in science lab, on the street. We sat outside the greenhouse for our first five minutes, which was quiet besides wind and the sounds of the greenhouse fans. For our ten-minute walk we went inside the greenhouse and then in Hannah’s microbiology lab she works in. We then walked outside and were on the street.

– The whirring of the greenhouse fans was very identifiable. The conversations we heard I didn’t know exactly where they came from because my eyes were closed.

-The drones were the wind and greenhouse fans. At first I didn’t really hear them but when I really started listening they were identifiable.

– The natural sounds were predominant in our first 5 minutes (mostly the wind), and then the sounds became more human as Hannah and I started to talk and explore during our ten-minute walk.

– Most of the sounds I heard were fairly quiet. There was really no loud, startling noise

– The depth of sounds ranged from very close to the microphone to almost out of our ability to hear

– I feel like I understand how much depth there is to sound now. Hearing beyond what’s right in front us is something that doesn’t often happen unless we are really trying to listen and hear everything.


Soundcloud link:

Blog Post #5

An Acoustemology Interview! Enjoy

Works Cited:

“PLP Potawatomi Language Clip.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 July 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

“Relaxing Nature: Forest Bird Sounds.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

“Axe Chopping – Sound Effect.” YouTube. YouTube, 11 May 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Kimmerr, Robin. “Learning the Grammar of Animacy.” The Leopold Outlook (2012): n. pag. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

Progression of Soundscapes Through Time

The theme of soundscapes is a very broad reaching topic that could really include anything in our sonic world. Despite this, the topics of my group actually fit quite well in relation to each other and collectively represent the evolution or change of soundscapes. My topic fits into this by examining a snippet of history where the soundscape would have changed dramatically in a relatively short amount of time, making it a sonically interesting time to study and ties in well through my group’s topic of changing and evolving soundscapes. Specifically, I plan to look at the change of the natural or “ecological soundscape” of the New England region in pre-Colonial times versus when European settlers came to the area. Under this topic, I have three main subtopics, which look at how land treatment practices, hunting techniques, and language changed the soundscape.

Exemplifying sounds that would occur in the soundscape I’m studying is difficult since there were no recording devices in the time period I’m examining, but I have two contrasting sound clips that offer contrasting snippets of sound the Native Americans versus the settlers would hear. The first is birdcalls: although the European settlers undoubtedly heard them too, many songbird species and specifically the passage pigeon were hunted close to extinction.


The second clip is the sound of chopping wood; a sound well known to the settlers as they clear cut much of the forested areas in the north east.



My animated picture:


Ecological Soundscapes in Colonial-era New England

Change of the Ecological Soundscape of New England in the Colonial Era

       Soundscapes surround us wherever we go. Whether we’re sleeping, eating, shopping, hiking, or dreaming, sounds are constantly entering our ears and being registered by our brain. Whether we realize it or not, soundscapes make up a significant part of how we perceive the world around us. As auditory neuroscientist Seth Horowitz says, “Hearing is a vastly underrated sense… hearing is a quantitatively faster sense [than sight]” (Horowitz, 1). My question is if hearing is such an important sense, then why is it we often overlook it when examining history? The soundscapes of different time periods, both human and natural elements are essential in understanding the progression of history. What I hope to find in my research is the change of the natural or “ecological soundscape” of the New England region in pre-Colonial times versus when settlers came to the area.

The land treatment practice of Natives versus settlers is an important aspect to examine when trying to determine the differing soundscapes. While the Natives often lived in small, nomadic tribes that hunted, gathered, and used sustainable farming practices, the European settlers generally built large, sedentary settlements where they typically over-grazed, over-farmed, and deforested the land. These two contrasting lifestyles no doubt had very different impacts on the soundscape of the area. The Natives lived in relative quiet, with the necessity silence to be in tune with the wildlife sounds that were pivotal to their survival. The sounds of the European settlements on the other hand, would have sounds of mooing livestock, plows working rocky land, and sawying lumber mills. Using my works cited, specifically Cronon’s Changes in the Land, I hope to investigate more the ways that the lifestyles of the two groups changed the ecological soundscape of New England.

Another specific aspect of the soundscape that changed after colonization is the impact of the fur industry on the wildlife of the region. Before Europeans came to the region, animals such as bear and beaver were either hunted by bow and arrow or captured with small traps. Upon the arrival of the Europeans, large metal jaw-like traps were spread over the land to capture the valuable pelts of the animals. Guns were also introduced, echoing the land with booming gunshots and killing more animals than ever thought possible before. The exploration of different hunting practices and the abrupt exploitation of the wildlife is investigated in Dolan’s book Fur, Fortune, and Empire and Sherrer’s article Probing the Relationship Between Native Americans and Ecology. This wildlife’s effect played a pivotal role in the change of the soundscape.

The dichotomy in the soundscape affected by the introduction of European languages to the New World is another fascinating contrast between pre and post-colonial epochs. In Kimmer’s article Learning the Grammar of Animacy, she discusses how different Native languages are from English. She explores how Native language is much more ecologically based; they have words for phenomena in nature that English does not. Their words also sound similar to the sounds in nature that they represent, which is fascinating. Another interesting aspect is that in most Native American languages they call natural things such as trees “who” instead of “it” like would be said in English. I want to look into more how the two contrasting languages not only changed the soundscape as they obviously would, but also the landscape and how they treated their environments differently.

In my research, I hope to study more in depth the impact the soundscape had on the landscape and the landscape on the soundscape in pre-Colonial and Colonial eras. Even with this preliminary research it is easy to see there is a relationship between them.  So far, I have three main aspects of research: the effects of land treatment, hunting, and language on the changing soundscape of Colonial New England. To put this in context with the wider study of soundscapes and acoustamology, looking at historical time periods through their sounds gives a broader yet more personal perspective of what was happening at the time. According to Mark Smith, who wrote an article on the sounds of antebellum America, “… historians have only began to overcome their deafness to aural worlds of the past” (Smith, 137). In my research, I hope to un-plug our ears at least for a minute and be able to listen to the sounds of a compelling time of change in history.

Annotated Bibliography


Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983. Print.


William Cronon is a Professor of Hisotry, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the President of the American Historical Association and a well-known write of several books on the topic of ecological change in a historical context. Cronon’s work is intended for an academic audience; although his writing isn’t particularly dense, the specificity of his subjects suggests an academic audience is being targeted. This work focuses less on soundscapes than other works cited and centers more on history and ecology. Ideas of soundscapes are easily inferred from these two subjects though, making this work a viable source to use for my topic. Especially helpful is its specific examples of differing land treatment from the Native Americans and the settlers and how this changed the ecology of the New England area in countless ways. This is wonderful to use in my research because the soundscape of these changes can easily be inferred and built upon by the research of Cronon.



Kimmerr, Robin W. “Learning the Grammar of Animacy.” The Leopold Outlook 12.2 (2012): n. pag. Print.


Robin Wall Kimmerr is a Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology SUNY College in Syracuse, New York and relates her research to her Potawatomi heritage in creating programs in the restoration of native ecology, specifically plants. Kimmerr holds a PhD in botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, restoration ecology, and traditional knowledge. This article is most likely targeted to scholars interested in soundscapes pertaining to linguistics and the social implications behind this. The journal article is focused specifically on Native American language and how it is linked closely to the ecology of the land, unlike English. This is beneficial to my research because it delves into how society existed before settlers began flooding into North America. It also talks about the linkage of Native American sound and nature, which the English language does not achieve.



Ferrington, Gary. “Acoustic Ecology and Environmental Studies: A New Academic Home for the Teaching of Ecoacoustics.” Soundscape 2.2 (2001): n. pag. Print.


Completing a B.S. in Humanities at Portland State College and an MS in Institutional Technology at University of Southern California, Gary Ferrington now teaches at University of Oregon in educational media and multimedia. He is also the secretary for the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology and he serves on the editorial committee for the journal Soundscape. The intended audience for the article is those interested in acoustimology and sound; the entire journal is designated to exploring different soundscapes. Compared to the other works cited, this article focuses on what an ecological soundscape actually is. This is valuable for my research because with this information I will know what to look for in the other articles that count technically as part of an ecological soundscape.


Dolin, Eric Jay. Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. Print.


Eric Dolan is a historical writer with a focus on the subjects of the environment and wildlife. He has published eleven books that have won numerous awards. More so than the other cited works, his writing is aimed more for the general public interested in the changing ecology of the Colonial landscape. His book is focused on the wildlife of the Colonial era instead of the people, which is essential to examine when looking at the ecological soundscape of New England. This is helpful to my research because this book illustrates the changes the wildlife went through when settlers came to America and this can be applied to how the natural soundscape changed.



Sherrer, Nathan. “Probing the Relationship Between Native Americans and Ecology.” Diss. University of Alabama, n.d. Web.


Nathan Sherrer is a graduated with honors from the University of Alabama with a degree in biology and a minor in religious studies. The intended audience for his dissertation is those academically interested in the relationship between Native Americans and their relationship with ecology. His work concerns the Native American relationship with the land before settlers came, although its different than Kimmer’s article in that it examines the Native’s relationship with the natural landscape more than the language’s relationship with it. This is important in my work because it’s important to understand the Native’s relationship with the land before the settlers in order to determine how it changed after the Europeans came.



The Unheard Sounds


It fascinates me that we can go through an entire day with our ears picking up thousands of small noises that our brain never even acknowledges hearing. Seth Horowitz, an auditory neuroscientist talks extensively about background sounds our brain is trained to ignore in his article The Science and Art of Listening. My ten recorded sounds focus on noises in my soundscape that I usually wouldn’t notice but exist in my everyday life. Whether layered under dialogue or recorded on their own, these small, seemingly insignificant noises are what make our auditory world interesting and full.

My audiography starts with breakfast at the University Marche with my friends. There is audible conversation, but what struck me when I listened to the recording was how loud and predominant the background babble was. It didn’t bother me when I was there because my brain chose not to register all the distracting noise around me.  Horowitz notes that, “your auditory system has evolved a complex and automatic ‘volume control,’ fine tuned by development and experience to keep most sounds off of your cognitive radar” (Horowitz, 1). After getting home from breakfast, I ask my roommate if she’d mind if I recorded her shower sounds. She agrees, and I go on my computer as I wait for her to hop in the shower. I get wrapped up in recording myself typing a Facebook chat, thinking about how they sound of typing is yet another noise I wouldn’t usually register. Ten minutes pass, and I look up startled, realizing that she’s been in the shower for a while and I had just involuntarily tuned out the noise I was waiting to hear to start recording. Horowitz mentions that our brain works like  “noise suppressing headphones” (Horowitz, 2), and I realized that was exactly what my brain had done.

Since food is easily one of the most enjoyable parts of my life, I included a few more food-related recordings including cooking a burrito and a failed attempt to fry an egg on my roommate’s Panini maker. Hearing the beeper of the microwave, my suitemate curiously asked what I was heating up. This reminded me of what Erlmann talked about in his article about resonation of sound. He wrote about how sound infers connection between a subject and an object. When my suitemate heard the sound of the microwave, which was the subject, she inferred an object related to it, which was food. Our egg fiasco was included in my audiography because again, it backs my idea that there are always underlying sounds that we don’t even think about listening for. Although the conversation is loud above it, if you listen carefully you can hear the griddle sizzling steadily beneath all our yelling and screeching.

After our failed cooking adventure, my roommate and I decided it was a good time to clean up our room a bit. Part of that was taking out the recycling, which my roommate carried while I took the trash. I was exiting the trash room when she dumped the recycling full of glass bottles, which unexpectedly made me jump. Horowitz mentions, after talking about our brain acting as noise suppressing headphones that you brain also, “…acts like a switch to interrupt it something urgent happens” (Horowitz, 3). In this case, the urgent event was just a loud noise, but it’s interesting how our brain works that way. A similar thing happened when I was replacing the trash bag; people were in the other room chatting, which I didn’t really notice, but when loud music was turned on, my attention immediately diverted to that.

Similar to the beginning and middle of my day, my evening concludes with food. On our last outing for the night, I lock the door, and sound I had never really listened to closely before. On the walk over, there is some conversation but I lag behind to record the satisfying crunch of my boots on the deep snow, which is a fairly new and exciting noise for me; the snow here is much deeper than I ever saw at home. Finally, my audiography ends with a friend chomping on an apple, a sound I wouldn’t usually notice or listen to, but whose crisp crunch seemed like a good way to end a day of listening. I’ve found through my day of recording that our soundscape is much deeper than we think: we just need to listen.


Horowitz, Seth. “The Science and Art of Listening.” The New York Times, 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

Erlman, Veit. “Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality.” Zone Books, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.


Dramatization of Frederick Douglass: Soundtrack Proposal

Glenna Hartman 1/25/13

To the Producers:

In this proposal, I plan to focus on a few scenes that will be significant in the movie Frederick Douglass, which you have informed me is a historical drama that closely follows the book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Upon examining the text, I have chosen a few snippets of aural scenes that may help you better piece together the sonic landscape the movie will contain. The keynote noises I plan to focus on are the vast difference between silence and noise in the Southern United States before the Civil War. Silence of plantation life was often broken by violent noises to whipping and abuse. Then again, the silence wasn’t safe for the slaves either; they were often being watched and felt afraid in the silence. The same fear of silence and noise was instilled in the masters too. They were afraid that slave’s silence meant they were plotting, but the lyrics slave songs often talked about escaping, which worried the masters also. I think the two following scenes display the tension between silence and noise in Douglass’s narrative.


pp 51-52 “The Whipping of Aunt Hester”

During this scene, the camera will only because focused on Douglass’s dimly lit face to make the auditory response more intense. The scene starts with the deep, dark, almost penetrating silence of night. Abruptly, a door slams, making Douglass’s eyes spring open. Silence for a while, then all of a sudden, an intense, loud crack rings through the night followed by a shrill scream. Silence for a few seconds again, then the low, gruff yell of “damned bitch.” Screaming follows, along with prayers and a woman’s voice begging for mercy. The louder she yells it seems the crack of the whip grows more frequent and violent. The sound of hard, rough leather hitting soft flesh is repeated again and again under the yelling. Finally, there is silence from the woman, and one last gravelly “Now, you damned bitch I’ll learn you how to disobey my orders” from the man. A few more hard cracks are heard, a door is slammed again and then a startling, now horrifying silence falls over the soundscape.

Although there would probably be other noises going on while the whipping is happening, I’m choosing not to include them to make the scene all the more riveting and dramatic. Such a violent violation of the silence will hopefully create a dramatic effect on the listener’s ears.


pp 103-105 “Mr. Covey’s Hymns”

This scene is meant to be an exploration of the character Mr. Covey, one of Douglass’s many slave owners. I found it interesting how he used silence and stealth to keep an eye on his slaves, often sneaking up on them in the field. For this scene, background noises will be included. The constant sound of labor and movement should be heard. Doulgass said they were in a cornfield, and the sound of the hoe cutting into the fresh ground to dig up weeds is another background noise. Singing can be heard in the distance, a deep soulful tune coming from perhaps a field over. A soft, whispery rustle is heard somewhere among the corn, and somewhere whispers, “The Snake!” All of a sudden activity seems to go faster and metal beats dirt at a break backing speed. Suddenly, Covey jumps out of the corn and in a cruel, cackling voice yells, “Ha, Ha! Come, come! Dash on, dash on!” All the while he’s brandishing a whip that occasionally cracks it with a hard smack on someone’s back. Scene cuts to Mr. Covey commencing his family devotions by trying to sing a hymn. His rough voice cracks and falters, and vulnerability shows when the listener realizes he can’t carry a tune. Suddenly, Douglass’s deep, rich voice chimes in and the song ends with Douglass’s smooth voice holding the last note.