The Soundtracker

The Soundtracker

Audio ecologist Gordon Hempton records and preserves America's vanishing quiet spaces, and teaches how we can benefit from listening to the silence. (Newsweek)

Inspired to ”truly listen” by a thunderstorm, audio ecologist and “soundtracker” Gordon Hempton began a career of recording natural sounds — especially the sound of silence or, more specifically, what happens in the absence of human noise.

In this Newsweek video, interspersed with samples of familiar but oft-ignored sounds such as water, wind and bird song, Hempton points out that the world is now full of audio clutter and irrelevant noise that prevents us from appreciating an authentic sound in nature. Anyone who has tried to capture natural sound and found airplane engines in the playback will relate to his concern for protecting the few remaining noise-free places. In Washington State, those places have actually been identified as Olympic State Park and two other locations Hempton won’t reveal.

Hempton suggests we should learn how to be quiet ourselves — just hold still and listen — because “silence is so worthwhile.” This is one profile that deserves to be heard.

CHANNEL: Newsweek

Video: Nick Sherman
Photos & Audio: Gordon Hempton
Editor: K. Ryan Jones

Length: 4:48