NOISE is all around us – and much of the time it’s not even the sort of sound we want to hear.
Even if it’s not the intrusive irritation of someone else’s music on the train or other people’s children arguing, we frequently want to tune out of the environment around us by plugging into a podcast or our favourite music.
But what about all the noise we are not listening to which might just have huge benefits for our mental health and wellbeing? That’s where Echoed Locations comes in, a project aiming to create the first ever sonic map of the Chilterns.
Initiated by the Chilterns Conservation Board as part of the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership, the aim is to establish a sound map of the Chilterns which can be used as a resource for years to come.
The project has designed sound recording workshops for local schools and community groups which focus first on attentive listening before moving on to practical recording techniques.
Elizabeth Buckley, communications and community engagement officer for the partnership scheme, explains: “It’s the seemingly ordinary sounds which make the Chilterns a unique and special place to live.
“Echoed Locations was developed because soundscapes are unique and important and inform how we feel about a place.”
The sounds they hope to collect for the project might range from birdsong in the local park to rush-hour traffic, a babbling stream or hoot of an owl at night. It might be a steam train in the distance, rain on a window pane or even a poem, song or interview.
“When you step off the bus as you arrive home, it is not just the smell of your neighbours’ garden or the sight of your front gate that makes you feel at home,” says Elizabeth (below).
“It is likely also the steady hum of a radio nearby, your mother’s voice calling you inside, far away traffic rumbling by.
“It is only when these sounds are lost from our day-to-day lives do, we really begin to listen. For example, when you arrive in a wood where no birds are singing, it feels odd and we notice the absence of a familiar sound. “
From the chatter of children walking to school to the buzzing of insects or hum of traffic, the project aims to encourage residents, visitors and especially young people to contribute to the sonic map.
Anyone can participate by adding audio recordings via the Echoed Locations website page and schools, local community groups and youth groups are encouraged to reach out to book a free sound recording workshop in 2020, although spaces are limited.
Volunteers willing to act as ‘Sonic Champions’ in High Wycombe, Amersham, Aylesbury and Princes Risborough (or the surrounding areas) will help promote the project and be given full training.
Contact Elizabeth on firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a sound recording workshop or as a volunteer, or with any other questions about the project.