Wild Notes at the Climate Fair

Last weekend in Machynlleth we had a ‘Climate Fair’ organised by the local branch of the activist group Extinction Rebellion, beginning with a fabulous fancy dress procession through town complete with banners, drums, fiddle, bagpipes and song, and moving onto a day of stalls run by a whole variety of local people who are engaging with the issue of climate change in different ways. I used the event as an opportunity to initiate the Wild Notes ‘hub’, which I want eventually to become a social enterprise, comprising a networking forum to engage people of different disciplines interested in the field of music, soundscape, nature-culture and healing, and place from which to run activities such as soundwalks and my already-existing monthly MOONCHOIR…

Almost on a whim, I started a ‘sound-map’, inviting people who visited my stall to write/draw/otherwise depict their favourite sounds in our local Dyfi Valley landscape (or elsewhere if visiting from other places). People got really excited by this! It was so lovely to witness visitors thinking about what their favourite sounds were, and there were lots of contributions. Cuckoo was number one, closely followed by the wind rustling in trees (‘especially Aspen’), ‘the sound of the silver birch in the breeze’, ‘wind in the grass and grasshoppers chirruping’, ‘running water down hill streams’, ‘the soft gurgle of a brook after heavy rain’ ‘y gwdihw tu allan o’r ty’ (‘an owl hooting outside my house’), and the very specific, ‘swn dail y cwympo yn ysgafn, yn y hydref, mewn coedwig tawel’ (‘the sound of Autumn leaves dropping gently in a quiet wood’)… Ocean waves breaking, lapwings, the swallow, sound of bees, Manx Shearwater, the river running (‘yesssss’), ‘sound of the Badgers’, curlew, ducks quacking, a blackbird singing at dusk, the low buzz of insects, the woodpecker, ‘the female tawny calling to a male tawny’ also featured. The oropendola (which I had never heard of before), made an appearance, and, too, did silence – the kind you get at the beginning and end of the day when there is no traffic (‘blissful peace’).

Such a rich soundscape conjured by those who attended the climate fair…. It feels like there is huge potential to explore this idea of sound-mapping some more, not least because it gets people impassioned by the natural sound world. Also being planned are sound walks with local bird song expert Ben Porter, so listen up for more news!

I am very excited by all this and look forward to blogging the progress of however the Wild Notes hub takes form…

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