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The Listening Year at Big Walnut Creek

recording phase: July 2022-June 2023

The Listening Year at Big Walnut Creek explores the changing sonic ecology of a place, resulting in a composition for New Morse Code (cello and percussion duo) incorporating field recordings and other media. Every week for a year, I am making field recordings at Big Walnut Creek in Putnam County, Indiana. I - or, sometimes, a co- or guest recordist - go to the site, spend some time exploring the sounds present there on that particular day, decide where and how to position the recorder and set levels given the sounds and conditions, and hit record. I briefly introduce the recording verbally, then listen for five minutes while recording. I say goodbye and end the recording. 


Throughout the year, and following it, I am consulting with scientists, environmentalists, local residents, colleagues in the arts, and student assistants to interpret the recordings, facilitating an interdisciplinary, intergenerational creative ecology that is in conversation with the ecology of the creek. Following the recording and interpretation phase, I will create an hour-long musical work whose title, form, content, sound material, and media emerge from this conversation and engage some of its participants as collaborators. This creative phase of the project was awarded the 2023-24 Fisher Fellowship from DePauw University. 

Big Walnut Creek forms the East boundary of the Nature Park at DePauw University. It is a small rural waterway, but it is subject to numerous human impacts on its ecology that have much broader environmental implications. By undertaking this listening and recording practice for a year, and bringing that practice into open-ended conversation with many forms of expertise about the creek and its watershed, as well as aesthetic and musical approaches to its sonic ecology, I hope to demonstrate the value of listening attentively to place as part of the solution to human environmental destruction.

image: Big Walnut Creek - The Listening Year Week 1

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