What does your world sound like? Music faculty call for community field recordings to be used in new composition

Two faculty members in the Department of Music are inviting all students, faculty, staff and community members to contribute field recordings for Resonant Echoes, a new work focusing on the integration of sounds from the world around us.

Assistant Professors Phyllis Chen and Christiana Fortune-Reader are developing Resonant Echoes as a way of documenting our life, culture and soundscape during these unusually isolating times.

Chen and Fortune-Reader invite community members to contribute field recordings that capture the landscapes and environments of indoor and outdoor spaces, and help connect our collective personal experiences and awareness.

“People have been recording sounds from their environments for over 100 years, documenting the evolution of our land, wildlife and culture,” says Chen. “Anyone at any age can participate. Just a curiosity and desire to stop in listen to one’s surroundings will do, along with a smartphone with a recording app on it.”

The call for submissions includes suggestions to inspire field recordings, like:

  • Recording while out on a walk in nature or in your neighborhood
  • A favorite spot in town
  • Someone or something inside your house
  • The sounds of animals that live nearby

Most mobile devices have the ability to quickly record an audio or video snippet. Sound samples should be uploaded here. Participants are asked to share their recordings by Dec. 21, the arrival of the Winter Solstice.

This collection of field recordings will then be pieced together as a collage – Chen compares it to the sound version of a quilt – which will serve as a backbone to a larger electro-acoustic work.

The idea of field recordings has been gaining momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent New York Times interactive features highlighted the potential of building connection through the creation of a kind of sonic geography that helps us overcome social isolation.

“As more of our world around us continues to shift between virtual connections and changing political landscapes, we hope to stay rooted and connected to one another,” said Fortune-Reader. “By resisting the loneliness of staying six feet apart or remaining within our own four walls, we aim to celebrate the beauty of our shared landscape and the people around us.”

Learn more about the Resonant Echoes project online, or get in touch at newpaltzresonantechoes@gmail.com.