Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton collects sounds from around the world. He’s recorded inside Sitka spruce logs in the Pacific Northwest, thunder in the Kalahari Desert, and dawn breaking across six continents. An attentive listener, he says silence is an endangered species on the verge of extinction. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound but an absence of noise. We take in the world through his ears.
Gordon Hempton is the founder of the One Square Inch of Silence Foundation, which recently expanded to become Quiet Parks International with the mission to “save quiet for the benefit of all life.” His books include One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet, co-authored with John Grossmann, and Earth Is A Solar Powered Jukebox: A Complete Guide to Listening, Recording, and Sound Designing with Nature. He’s also produced more than 60 albums of vanishing natural soundscapes. Despite a dramatic loss in hearing in recent years, he’s been able to release a collection of soundscapes called Global Sunrise: The Musical Sounds of Dawn and a podcast, Sound Escapes.
Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. This interview originally aired in May 2012.
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