As mentioned last month, August was the last challenge to be issued for Nature Sound of the Month.
A year has gone since the challenge was launched and the first theme was released. It’s been a lot of fun to listen to your sounds and sonic memories, but it is time to end this challenge. New projects are about to be launched and demand too much of my attention. I simply don’t have the time to maintain this challenge running.
With Nature Sound of the Month, I wanted to broaden your experience of the outdoors by asking you to listen. Too many outdoors challenges ask you to focus on what you see rather than what you hear. And while visuals can be stunning they are not always present, nor do they necessarily align with beautiful sounds. When you close your eyes, your perception of a place change. What was the best scenery can turn into nothing much, and vice versa. My quest open ears if not over however. It is simply undergoing a change of format.
I want to thank everyone who shared the challenge along the way and sent contribution, in the forms of recordings or words. It’s been fantastic to discover people’s interpretation of the themes.
I hope you have enjoyed the challenge as much as I did.
But before I close this challenge for good, there is one last round-up to complete. Here it is.
Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on the sounds of your holidays and rest days. Here is what has been captured:
Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad (Return Trip)
Recorded by Vince Hancock.
Recorded by Jonathan.
Recorded by me.
What have you been listening to this past August?
A huge thank you to everyone who took part in the challenge last month. I hope you’ve enjoyed capturing your sounds as much as I’ve enjoyed listening to them. Check out the round-up of sounds from listening to the weather in the previous post today.
Last September, I launched the first theme of Nature Sound of the Month. I wanted to create a challenge that broadened your experience of the outdoors by asking you to listen. Many people have shared their sounds and stories of sounds throughout the year, and I am grateful for those. But it is now time to bid farewell to this challenge. It has run its course and new projects await. So for the last time this year, I am setting a theme to help you listen to the world around you. I hope you have enjoyed the challenge as much as I did.
Theme of the month: Holidays and rest days
School breaks, annual leave, or just a week-end away, August is always a bit different from the rest of the year. There is a lightness to the air and a carefree attitude in people. Even if you are working, holidays are in the air.
This month, take the opportunity to discover new places by going away from home or stepping in a new part of town. What nature sounds can you hear? Is it the crashing of the waves, the crickets in the grass, the birds overhead, or something else entirely?
So this month, wherever you are, I’m asking you to pay attention to the nature sounds of your holidays and rest days.
What is it about?
There are many challenges out there to help you make the most of the outdoors, but more often than not they focus on what you see rather than what you hear. Visuals can certainly be stunning but they are not always present. Close your eyes and the scenery is gone. This is not so with sounds. You cannot close off your ears. You can ignore the sounds but they are here nonetheless and some part of you are registering them. So this challenge focuses on sounds, specifically nature sounds, and asks you to get out there and record them.
How does it work?
On the 1st of every month, I’ll publish a post with a prompt for what to listen to. This prompt is aimed to help you open your ears to nature and is by no means a rule to follow. You can record something else if another sound picks your interest.
Last month, the nature sound of the month focused on the weather, asking you to listen to the elements around you. Here is what has been captured:
Recorded by Tiadeets.
Recorded by StillWalks.
Recorded by StillWalks.
Recorded by StillWalks.
Recorded by me.
Other nature sounds that caught my ear in July:
by Andrus Kannel
by Jeremy Hegge
by Reuben Derrick
What have you been listening to this past July?
Six months have passed since I set myself goals to achieve by the end of the year. A lot has happened in those months and it’s time for an update.
Learn European Portuguese
I have been learning a lot of vocabulary and I am confident enough to handle basic conversations. I understand soap operas when I have Portuguese subtitles on and I can read learners’ books. But I have not practised the language with a tutor or Portuguese person. I want to use a website called iTalki to help me improve but my work hours have made it difficult to arrange any kind of schedule. So instead I have gone on with a pattern of fuelling my vocabulary with a side of listening and reading.
Lately I have let this goal slide. Other commitments have taken priority over learning Portuguese and I find myself struggling to maintain my daily practice. I am aware that I have overgrown simple vocabulary learning but alternatives are more time-consuming – which doesn’t help me timetable them in a busy schedule.
But, I have began a new job with more regular hours, and this I hope, will make it easier to make time for iTalki tutors and boost my language skills.
One thing I have completely given up on are the videos. They took me too much time for not enough return. So only one video was ever produced.
Take a photo every day
At the beginning of the year, I used Splodz very helpful monthly prompts to help me focus and remember to take a photo a day. But I soon gave it up as the habit became more ingrained in me. My eyes automatically catch details and I remember to stop to take them in and capture them. I have gone through days when no photos have been taken, but most days I do and I’m happy with that.
Follow me on Instagram if you want to see all those (almost) daily shots.
Record a sound every day
This goal has been dropped back in April.
I started this exercise to push myself to listen and use my recording equipment more. And I do. But recording every day proved too much. Instead of pushing me creatively, the process began to hamper me. I would grudgingly record a sound which resulted into a bad recording. Then I would have to spend hours at my computer to edit what I had captured instead of devoting time to other sound exercises that I found more valuable. At first I pushed through, thinking it was a hump to go over. But the feeling of time lost and wasted never stopped. So I stopped.
I did not put my recorder and microphones away. Instead I took the time to develop a new sound specific project, one that forces me to listen and record regularly, but also one that is more meaningful and encompassing. But more on in another blog post (coming soon…).
Follow me on SoundCloud if you never want to miss one of my recordings.
Overall I’m happy with how I’m doing with my goals. There is room for improvement but setting myself targets has provided a focus I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Have you set up goals and resolutions for the new year? If yes, how are you doing with them? Are you on track?
‘Do you want any specific days off in June,’ my manager asked as she prepared to write the team rota.
‘If I could have the 21st and 22nd off it’d be brilliant.’
‘No problem.’ She left the shop floor for the quiet of the stock room, leaving me grinning like an idiot at the idea of having the whole solstice off work.
Planning for what to do was a short affair. I had wanted to cycle south from my front door since moving in, following Sustrans cycle route 3 to Glastonbury. After that, I didn’t know or care very much. There were plenty of options. So on the 21st of June, I packed my panniers, pumped my tyres, and pedalled away from home, my skin lathered with sun cream.
My handlebar bag was full of camera and recording gear and my mind breaming with ideas. I had been wanting to film one of my journeys for a while but I didn’t see the point of filming me. There seem nothing extraordinary or worth recording about me, not on film anyway. So for a long time, I did nothing. It was only when attending the Cycle Touring Festival a month earlier that an idea had began to emerge. I had joined the ‘Filming your trip‘ talk and discovered another way to record cycling journeys. Most videos focus on a person, but Geoff Broadway offered another possibility. His film excerpt was about the place he had visited, not about him. It was a simple idea but one that, for some reason, hadn’t occurred to me. I kept thinking about what I could bring to a cycle touring video and this is my answer:
For photos of the trip, visit my Flickr account.