9 Sep

Map of the Week: Sounds of the Forest

By Arden Benner

This week’s Map of the Week comes from Wild Rumpus a UK-based production company specializing in outdoor artisanal events that focus on “helping people connect to and be inspired by nature.” Every July, in collaboration with The National Forest Company, Wild Rumpus produces the three day Timber Festival, “an international festival exploring the transformative impact of Forests.” Typically an outdoor extravaganza highlighted by guest speakers, musicians, and artists, this year’s spectacle was knocked a bit off course (much like everything else was) by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to keep the fun afloat, the festivities went virtual—Sounds of the Forest, a crowdsourced collection of nature sounds from around the world, was born from the desire to celebrate nature.

Between now and Timber Festival 2021 (predicted to be back in person by next July), the organizers are asking the public to contribute to their interactive, map-based, auditory library. Contributors are asked to delve into their locale woodlands (or greenspaces, there are no requirements on size) and record a minute of their ambient surroundings. A picture of the scene is also requested, as well as the general location of where your recording originated. Once submitted, your audiofile will appear within the soundmap, updated weekly.

In an interesting twist, select Timber Festival artists are being encouraged to interact with the submitted sounds; integrating them into music or various other forms of artwork that will be displayed during next year’s festivities. One of the project’s predominant supporters is the PRS for Music Foundation, a UK-based organization that uses open grant schemes to support new music initiatives. As of right now the majority of the submitted sounds are within the UK, although a brief scan of the map shows submissions across the globe—as far as New Zealand, Madagascar, and Alaska. With a little less than a year between us and Timber Festival 2021, there is no telling how far this map, the first of its kind, could go.