Hildegard Westerkamp

Hildegard Westerkamp

Beneath the Forest Floor

2-channel fixed medium (1992) 17.23′

Thursday 7 July, 2022
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»Beneath the Forest Floor« is composed from sounds recorded in old–growth forests on British Columbia’s westcoast [throughout the summer of 1991]. It moves us through the visible forest, into its’ shadow world, its’ spirit; into that which effects our body, heart and mind when we experience forest. Most of the sounds for this composition were recorded in one specific location, the Carmanah Valley on Vancouver Island. This old-growth rainforest contains some of the tallest known Sitka spruce in the world and cedar trees that are well over one thousand years old. Its’ stillness is enormous, punctuated only occasionally by the sounds of small songbirds, ravens and jays, squirrels, flies and mosquitoes. […] Better still, [Beneath the Forest Floor] hopes to encourage listeners to visit a place like the Carmanah, half of which has already been destroyed by clear-cut logging. Aside from experiencing its huge stillness a visit will also transmit a very real knowledge of what is lost if these forests disappear: not only the trees but also an inner space that they transmit to us: a sense of balance and focus, of new energy and life. The inner forest, the forest in us.

Hildegard Westerkamp (*1946 in Osnabrück, Germany) is a sound artist, sound researcher, composer of electroacoustic music, sound ecologist, flutist, pianist, and author. Her works, which have been performed worldwide, chiefly focus on aspects of the acoustic environment. Westerkamp moved to Canada in 1968, studied music at the University of British Columbia and joined the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University to explore soundscapes under the direction of R. Murray Schafer. She later taught courses in acoustic communication at Simon Fraser University and has written extensively on soundscapes, acoustic ecology, and listening. She is a founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology and lives in Vancouver.

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