Over the past spring and summer the Greensounds project held research workshops with partners in the southwest (The Forest of Avon Trust), northeast (Forestry Commission and Signal Media) and Wales (Coed Lleol). At each workshop participants used highly directional microphones to investigate, capture and share their understanding and experiences of green sounds. The Greensounds project explores how relationships with and preferences for ‘natural’ or green acoustics in urban and rural environments can be discovered and captured through this participative arts-based research.
The research team, Dr Philip Reeder (Creative industries, UoG) and Dr Alice Goodenough (CCRI), collaborated with people taking part to support reflection on their soundscape listening/recording, alongside observation of their interactions with their sonic environment, to examine how and when sound might contribute to green space’s restorative and connective influence and the impact of its presence and absence in people’s lives.
Participants listening and making recordings included young people exploring the natural world, men and women spending time in nature to manage their health and wellbeing, and older adults with dementia and their carers. Each workshop took place in a treescape, each with a distinct character (a semi-urban park, landscaped historic parkland at the edge of a city, a nature reserve in a post-industrial area and a forest within a world heritage site).
The greensounds immersive recording approach deepens the reflective relationship to sound that people typically encounter in soundscape projects and allows people taking part to independently create and narrate a piece of acoustic research. Participant’s recordings and contributions during workshops highlighted that:
- Green sounds can contribute positively to wellbeing and be actively used to manage it
- Immersion in and enjoyment of green acoustics can be disrupted by sound perceived as man-made
- Lack of control over soundscapes can have disbenefits to wellbeing
- Ability to access green soundscapes can be impacted by age and health issues
- Green acoustics can contribute to our perceptions of the biodiversity within and health of a natural environment, with the potential to make us feel positive or anxious about its condition
- In Greensounds workshops there were similarities, but also differences, in how adults and young people engaged with and immersed themselves in green sound
Alice and Philip are currently exploring the recordings in greater depth in order to report on the novel research method and what it might contribute to understanding our experiences of green sounds. The next stage of the project will bring together the sounds recorded by people taking part, alongside their reflections, through are the Greensounds Composition being shared online and at galleries, alongside. This soundwork will be shared first at the Hardwick Gallery in November 2022.