World Listening Day – July 18

Think of the favorite sounds of summer.  The pulsing cadence of cicadas, creaking chorus of pond frogs, or clicking whirr of grasshoppers are common sounds heard in regions across the United States, but there are other favorite sounds from other places that make each place unique and summer wouldn’t be the same without them. The World Listening Project has announced the theme of “Listening to the Ground” for the annual World Listening Day, July 18, 2017. 

West (2017) captures the spirit of World Listening Day indicating that some sounds are so common people take them for granted and often do not hear them at all.  Sounds like crickets on a summer night. Unexpected and often unwelcome sounds may stand out from others, such as the shake of a rattlesnake’s tail, the boom of thunder, the crack of lightning, or roar of wildfire ….these sounds bring us to full attention. Sounds can be delicate and fleeting… a woodpecker’s tap, the rustle of birds in the brush, or the sound of coyotes in a field.  Cultural sounds also define listening experiences, from the honk and hum of traffic to children at play. Silence even plays an important part in the sound landscape as it is welcomed in today’s hectic world.  West reminds us that by paying attention to the layers of sounds, we come to know and appreciate a whole other component of the environment. No matter where you live or work. take time to appreciate the sounds that are in the environment, enjoying those special ones that are unique to your particular human experience.

World Listening day, which bean in 2010, is the brainchild of Pauline Oliveros, an American composer, accordionist and a central figure in the development of experimental and post-war electronic art music.  It is her legacy and the culmination of a life-long fascination with music and sound that inspired the practice of Deep Listening or the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions. As a Professor of Practice in the Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Oliveros produced highly regarded work as a composer and improviser. Her 1989 recording, Deep Listening, is considered a classic in her field. She was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, and served as its director. She taught music at Mills College, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Oliveros authored books, formulated new music theories, and investigated new ways to focus attention on music including her concepts of “Deep Listening” and “sonic awareness”.  Nearly 20 years later, those words have come to encapsulate the astonishing legacy left behind by the late composer, who died on November 24 at the age of 84. An artist, accordionist, and pioneer of experimental and electronic art music, Oliveros is remembered for her revolutionary tape experiments, her poetic and aleatoric musical scores, her groundbreaking musical philosophies, and above all, her unwavering devotion to the exploration of sound.

If you have 10 minutes to listen to some of Pauline’s rather different music……. Click on her collaborative piece from the Deep Listening Series to the right.

Leonardson (2017) feels that World Listening Day 2017 is an opportunity to consider and engage one another in an ear-minded, soundscape approach to our environment, to understand our shared role in making and listening across cultures, generations, places, disciplines, and communities, and to reflect and honor the life and legacy of Pauline Oliveros.  July 18 is also the birthday of R. Murray Schafer (b. 1933), Canadian composer and founder of the World Soundscape Project and acoustic ecology.

For those of us that work with patients each day, assisting them in the discovery and rediscovery of the sounds within the environment, sometimes it is necessary to pause from the busy life to just enjoy the environment!   So, if you missed World Listening Day for this year….Enjoy listening to the sounds of the environment this week and look forward to the event in 2018. (Click on the Picture at left for some soothing environmental sounds).

“Sometimes we walk on the ground, sometimes on sidewalks or asphalt, or other surfaces. Can we find ground to walk on and can we listen for the sound or sounds of ground? Are we losing ground? Can we find new ground by listening for it?”—Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016).



Leonardson, E. (2017). World Listening Day 2017:  Listening to the Ground.  World Listening Project.  Retrieved July 18, 2017.

West, J. (2017). Listening to the Ground: World Listening Day 2017.  National Park Service. Retrieved July 18, 2017.


Deep Listening Institute (2017). Retrieved July 18, 2017.


Oliveros, P. (2015).  Nike.  Deep Listening Project.  Retrieved July 18, 2017.


About Robert Traynor

Robert M. Traynor is a board certified audiologist with 45 years of clinical practice in audiology. He is a hearing industry consultant, trainer, professor, conference speaker, practice manager, and author. He has 45 years experience teaching courses and training clinicians within the field of audiology with specific emphasis in hearing and tinnitus rehabilitation. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in various university audiology programs.