Tuning into a sound ecology: A conversation with acoustic ecology technician and field recording artist Laura Giannone

Listening to live or recorded natural sound can connect us and provide valuable information about the state of our environment. (Chris Zatarain)

Audio Story by Chris Zatarain

When was the last time that you really, truly listened to your surroundings? Where were you? What did you hear? How did you feel?

We live in a bustling and noisy world, and I for one find that there is not much room left for stillness—to be present and to really stretch my ears out and listen, even though it seems like there is always something going on. It can be exhausting. 

Maybe you can relate, but to me, a retreat into the wilderness is always a welcome reprieve from the constant boom and chatter that accompanies modern life. Trekking on a desert trail through Saguaro National Park or in Ponderosa pine forest on Mt. Lemmon gives me a new palette of sound to tune into: 


Wind in the trees.

The trickle of a waterfall tucked into the back of a quiet canyon.

I find it healing.

A sound recorder sits on a rock with the setting sun casting an orange glow on an Arizona mountain in the distance.
Taking field recordings in the Sonoran Desert in
Tucson, Arizona. (Chris Zatarain)

Our world is changing every day, and sometimes it seems that the sprawl of human life expands more and more, and nature can often feel farther and farther away. 

In today’s conversation, I speak to Laura Gianonne, a field recording artist and acoustic ecology technician whose entire job is to listen to the natural world. 

Laura travels the world capturing the sounds of vibrant ecosystems from the island of Borneo, to the jungles of Ecuador, Chichibu National park in Japan, and the shimmering dawn chorus of the Olympic peninsula, among others. 

Acoustic ecologist, Laura Giannone stands in front of some trees holding a microphone attached to a long tripod.
Laura in the field.
Photo courtesy of Laura Giannone.

Her skills and talents are used both in scientific endeavors aiding research and organizations like Quiet Parks International and Bornean Bird Conservation, as well as to bring the peaceful, natural sounds of the world to the ears of weary listeners. 

We discuss the ways that acoustic ecology can be used in conservation and land management strategies, as well as the ways in which the act of listening can bring us some peace as well.

You can learn more about Laura and listen to her beautiful field recordings, such as those featured in this audio piece, at ebbtidesound.com.


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