e129 world listening day – what does world listening day mean to you?

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my response to the 3 prompts from world listening day, july 18, 2023

(bell and breath)

Every July 18th is World Listening Day. It’s also composer and acoustic ecologist R. Murray Schafer’s birthday. Rest in peace Murray. 

Now World Listening Day 2023 proposes three very interesting  listening prompts and I’ll try to answer their questions in today’s episode.

Question 1

What can we learn from the listening practices of all living beings?

What can we learn from the listening practices of all living beings?

It’s a very good question and I would start by questioning who is the ‘we’ in this context. I would also question the assumption that other living beings have listening practices as we know them. ‘We’.

This being said, this prompt made me think of a story told to me by composer Robert Normandeau in 1991 for my Marche sonore 1 radio program that I did for Radio-Canada. I quote it in episode 19 reality and I’ll play it back for you now. 

(e19 reality)

It’s a bit like taking a frog, which is a cold-blooded animal, and putting it in a jar of water and heating the water, little by little. The frog will get used to the temperature rising and rising, and it will not notice that the temperature has risen and one day the temperature will be too hot for it and it will die. Therefore, our civilization, in terms of sound, looks a bit like that, that is to say we get used to it, we get used to it, we get used to it and at some point, we are going to have punctured eardrums.

Now the early 1990’s were a time of great environmental awakening and action, in particular the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. There was a sense that this was our last chance to change directions, to undo some of the wrongs of pollution. Ironically, things got much worse after 1992.

Sadly, this window is now closed and we find ourselves in very hot water not feeling or responding to the heat, the smoke and other signals we are receiving and so we’re slowly boiling to death…


Question 2

How can we deterritorialize listening practices?

How can we deterritorialize listening practices?

Dererrirorialize. De… terror. Deterritorialize.  It’s a hard word to say.

The notion of territory makes me think of stolen lands by colonial settlers, like myself, living in indigenous lands, unceded lands, such as the Algonquin-Anishinaabe nation, otherwise known as Ottawa.

One form of deterritorialization is the land back movement.

According to journalist and Canada Council for the Arts chair Jesse Wente (also see e107 harm) land back is :

about the decision-making power. It’s about self-determination for our Peoples here that should include some access to the territories and resources in a more equitable fashion, and for us to have control over how that actually looks.

What does land back sound like? 

Just last week I published an episode about decolonized listening 128 revisited. Here’s an an excerpt from that episode : 

On June 23, 2023 I had the pleasure, and the privilege, of attending ‘Listening to Lhq’a:lets’ (I hope I’m pronouncing that right), otherwise known as the city of Vancouver, at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Learning at the University of British Coumbia, which is situated l on the unceded and ancestral territory of the Musqueam Nation. A group of artists, all women, spoke about their week-long residency, organized by indigenous sound scholar and UBC professor Dr. Dylan Robinson. They shared a wide range of sensory engagements through listening to Lhq’a:lets: how our bodies listen through the haptics of vibration, about  hearing and feeling the voices of our non-human relations, about how we can perceive the built environment with new perspectives – the air, waterways and earth that surround us. They spoke about their encounters with the trans-mountain pipeline, their dialogues with animals and birds, their encounters with haunting vibrations and their thoughts about the past, present and future sounds of this region. What they did not talk about was themselves, their accomplishments or the type of technology they used to extract and manipulate the sounds. None of that. There was also no reverence for say R. Murray Schafer or the World Soundscape Project, nor any nostalgia about the good old days when, say, the term ‘soundscape’ was invented. There was no disrespect either. They were listening from a different position. So I heard stories, poems, anecdotes, images, silences and prophecies… It was uplifting. 

(simplesoundscapes e03 bones


Question 3

When should we listen more?

When should we listen more?

I guess it depends on what kind of listening, doesn’t it? 

More listening with a colonial lens or colonial education is not helpful. 

Perhaps we could listen more to ourselves through listening to other living beings? 

Maybe we could listen more to the land and give back?

Warm thanks to my colleagues at the World Listening Days for your thoughtful prompts and ongoing commitment to listening, by everyone, everywhere.

What does world listening day mean to you?


For more information on World Listening Day and to participate, this year or next, see https://worldlisteningday.org/ 

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is to World Listening Day 2023.





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Responses to “e129 world listening day – what does world listening day mean to you?”

  1. T Pearson Avatar
    T Pearson

    Hello, Claude,
    Some spur of the moment responses from the Banff Centre …
    1. We can learn from the listening practices of all living beings.
    2. We can listen from knowing that we are part of everything and everything is part of us. We can listen through our breath our bones our feet our hands our skin our joints our organs. We can listen from the perspective of other beings, tiny and vast, simple and complex. We can listen near and far, in time and space. We can push our listening outward and bring it inward. We can let We can allow discomfort and unknowing, we dissolve cultural, political, habitual, limitations in listening to bring new listenings.
    3. We just need to listen all the time in many ways, inward, outward, up, down, all around. Listening is like breathing. We need to breathe deeply, fully, inhaling and exhaling to be alive. Sometimes we need to breathe quietly – in sleep, our breath leads our dreams. Sometimes we need to rest our listening, listen inward.

    1. Claude Schryer Avatar


      I’m learning how to breathe through my bones these days – c’est pas évident – there are many blockages (my daily qi gong practice helps me). I agree about ‘listening outwards’. It made me think of this quote from my 2019 radio composition Pushing. Hearing. Outwards. inspired by indigenous writer Richard Wagamese’s unfinished novel Starlight, on page 180, where Wagamese writes: ‘she focused on that tiny point of light and pushed her hearing out through it’.

      The discomfort and unknowing that you mention is critical but hard to do. I like Vanessa Andreotti’s saying ‘we need to hold space for the good, the bad, the ugly and the messed up, within and around’ which I mentioned in my blog – sounding modernity.

      Thankfully, new forms of listening and being are happening all around us. For example, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) recently published videos from its 2023 Listening Pasts – Listening Futures conference that explore this, including my presentation where I ask ‘how can listening help?’

      Listening can help in endless ways, as you suggest, Tina. It is like breathing however we tend not to breathe deeply, nor to listen deeply but we can. We can ‘breathe deeply, fully, inhaling and exhaling to be alive’ as you propose and listen ‘in many ways, inward, outward, up, down, all around.’

      Thank you.