The story

Mike Edwards and Harry Coade of Sound Matters visited the Altiplano landscape to record the “soundscape” in 2018. Their work is presented in The Soundscape of Resilience EP: an audio deep-dive into the restoration work of the AlVelAl territory.

But what is a soundscape?

A soundscape is made up of three elements.

  • Biophony: ecological sounds like a frog croaking or a bird calling
  • Geophony: noise coming from natural phenomena like wind and rain
  • Anthrophony: sounds that humans make

The soundscape of each landscape is unique. Integrating soundscapes into landscape restoration offers an amazing avenue to observe regeneration processes. Ecologists already use bioacoustics to measure how healthy an area is. Healthy habitats which are rich in biodiversity have complex and well-defined soundscapes covering all audio-frequencies. While the soundscape of a degraded landscape is less rich and, often, more silent. Listening to the land is an effective way to understand what state it is in, and to measure the progress of landscape restoration.

Soundscapes of Resilience

The Soundscapes of Resilience EP paints a defined soundscape of the Altiplano. Over 6 tracks, the three elements – biophony, geophony and anthrophony – are beautifully combined. You hear the sounds of landscape restoration, combined with sounds and voices from the AlVelAl territory. According to Harry, the EP is an “interpretation of the soundscape of the land, the people and their culture.”

Working with local musicians, Mike and Harry blended quintessential Spanish music into the EP. You even get an idea of how the Altiplano soundscape influences local music. The call of a shepherdess is akin to flamenco singing, the staccato strumming of Spanish guitar reflects harsh rock of the mountains and the rhythmic clapping is like the torrential rains famous in the Altiplano.

The Sound Matters team aim to develop processes that connect people with changing soundscapes as a landscape becomes restored. Mike says that the EP is a “celebration of the region but also it is trying to engage people with the importance of sound” and “that by getting people actually out into the landscape to listen, they will start to understand the importance of sound in landscape restoration”.

One track – “Soil Composer” – gives you a chance to listen to earth. The music is generated directly from the changing humidity, moisture, light and temperature values over time. It creates an electronic and flowing sound backed by percussive elements of restoration, such as digging and planting.

Mike and Harry had the chance to perform “Soil Composer” live at the Regeneration Festival at La Junquera in 2018. People listened to the song while dancing and planting trees. For Harry, there was “something so fulfilling about seeing 200 people restoring the soil whilst at the same time dancing to music that had been generated by the soil”.

Soundscapes offer an opportunity to really connect people with landscapes and the process of restoration. By listening to the sounds of landscape restoration, combined with the music and voices of the people that live in the Altiplano, you will begin to understand why sound matters.


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