Sound carries messages of culture, history, space, life…and so on.
Each piece of land and city has their own sound. Think about it. In your mind, what is the sound of Taipei? Is it the sound of cars? Broadcasting? Or the sound of frogs?
Have you ever slowed down in your fast-paced, busy life to close your eyes and open your ears? Whether you’re in walking through the streets in the city or taking a stroll in a natural environment, the sounds you hear are all unique and filled with life. Advancements in technology has made us numb to everything around us; every day we are surrounded by people focused on their cell phones in their hands or listening to music from their earplugs, oblivious to everything around them. You always hear people saying not to miss the beautiful view in front of you. But, what most people don’t know is, there are still many soundscapes in the world waiting for us to discover and to feel.
Did you know that sound also varies with season? From the frogs croaking in summer to the Japanese White-eye singing in spring, the leaves withering in fall and rain drizzling on plum blossoms in winter, sound carries messages of life. We are used to experiencing the world with our eyes; as a result, we neglect the sounds surrounding us. But if you listen carefully and feel the message the sounds are carrying, you will hear the touching melody they play for you.
Laila Fan, a field recorder, said, “Humans listen to connect to the land.” Fan captures ambient noises and natural sounds.
Laila Fan has a radio program that has been on for 20 years called Notes of Nature. On the show, she uses sound that she has collected to inspire people to close their eyes and breathe into nature; she uses sound to take people around the world and feel the environmental changes around them. Her passion for sound does not only lie within the sound itself, but also the joy of sharing with others. From ignorance towards sound to gaining knowledge and sharing, a sound map of Taiwan has already formed in mind, showing the musical feasts different altitudes and seasons have to offer.
Fan’s deep attraction to sound and passion for the wilderness motivated her to explore the connection between sound and the environment and to preserve the sounds of nature of Taiwan. In her book called “Saving Silence,” she shares her journey traveling across Taiwan and the sounds of nature she captured. For Fan, silence is not completely soundless; it’s the existing essence of life and the natural sound of all creatures. The book says, “We can see mountains and trees with our naked eye, but we are unaware of how many birds and the connection humans have created for inspirations we have lost.” Protecting sounds is the same as protecting our land. Sounds change and are often taken for granted. But when the environment is severely damaged, the circumstance symbolizes the soundless protest of nature.
Laila Fan said that you need to take action in life in order for good things to happen. In 2015, she founded the Soundscape Association of Taiwan with the aim to change the world and protect the land with sound while raising public awareness of soundscape and encouraging people to feel the sounds, environment and nature surrounding them.
Listening not only helps raise public awareness of natural preservation; it is also a means of awakening ourselves to rediscover the connection with this piece of land. Every life on earth has their own sound to carry out a rich variety of messages. Learning to listen to nature and the soul requires time. Open your ears and listen. Feel the therapeutic power of sounds and unearth the story of the sounds of nature. Allow the touching melody to show you the beauty of life.