Acouscenic Listening and The Creative Soundwalk

Acouscenic Listening and The Creative Soundwalk

“Listen to the city as you walk, listen to everything,
Be aware of how the sounds you listen to affects your body” -
Sean Taylor

The body is affected by sound in a myriad of ways, physiologically, psychologically, and behaviourally. When we listen consciously, we listen with and to our bodies, sound touches our listening social body causing sensations long before the mind cognizes the source of these sounds.

The practice of Acouscenic Listening is the distillation of a lived creative practice that I have developed over a thirty-year time frame and has led me, since 2012, to define my current creative practice. Closely related to and influenced by the Deep Listening work of American composer Pauline Oliveros, with whom I worked in New York for four years (2009-2013). Acouscenic Listening has evolved from central concerns in my work and includes elements of performance art, socially engaged practice, acoustic ecology and applied traditions of Eastern thought and practices including Qigong and Tai Chi. The concept of Acouscenic Listening and the Creative soundwalk was first developed within the Softday art/science collaboration (with Mikael Fernström) and became the focus of my personal PhD research (2012-2018).

The practice of Acouscenic Listening underpins the creative turn in the Creative Soundwalk. This in turn fosters a unique approach to sound and performance art and encourages greater interaction between artists and audience in creating, educating, performing, and recording sound/body-based work with a global position. The practice cultivates an understanding and appreciation of sounds to space, place, and body ‘in the now’, expanding the potential for connection and interaction with one's environment, body, technology, and improvised performance with others in sound and related arts. 

The Creative Soundwalk is a structured immersive excursion in a soundscape, whose main purpose is to engage with communities of interest to become both active listeners and potential sound makers. 

A typical Acouscenic Listening workshop/intensive may take place over a half day, full day, or weekend period. 

The workshop/intensive may be broken down into several learning outcomes:

  • Theoretical context and practical frameworks for the use of Acouscenic Listening.
  • Participation in and understanding of the Creative Soundwalk
  • Introduction to psychogeography and deep mapping
  • Introduction to collaborative, co-authored sound art practice
  • Critical reflection on sound’s relational condition and creative outcomes 
  • Brief introduction to Eastern thought, Tai Chi, Qigong practices and how it applies to the Acouscenic Listening. 
  • Introduction of group sonic meditations work
  • Introduction to graphic scores and the application of a creative turn to the completed soundmap
  • Performance, recording and dissemination of the completed sound work (to be agreed by all participants)

Participants will practice techniques that help us to release stress, and to quiet and nurture ourselves through energy exercises and sonic meditations. There will be time and space for individual and group creativity, playfulness, and improvised performance to emerge. The workshop is designed for participants to have the opportunity to be with oneself and to also have the support and camaraderie of the group. 

A key element of the workshop is derived through consensus by the participants and the artist to collectively develop, document and track the evolution of the proposed work. This is done through collective mapping, movement meditations and improvisations, to final performance and public dissemination of any co-authored creative work. The workshops/intensives foster a heightened awareness of our sonic environment, and promotes experimentation, collaboration, playfulness, and other creative aural skills vital to personal growth. No previous experience

For further information on Acouscenic Listening Creative Soundwalk workshops and intensives please contact the artist directly at:

A Manifesto for Acouscenic Listening

  • Acouscenic Listening is a process and practice that cultivates an appreciation of soundscape to body on a finely tuned level, expanding the potential for creative interaction with one's environment through performance with others in sound and related arts. The practice explores the dialogue that occurs between the listening subject and space; a dialogue embarked upon through the language of sound. Acouscenic Listening provides the framework for artistic collaboration and sound improvisation and gives artists, composers, performers, and the audience new tools to creatively explore environmental, instrumental and choral sounds.
  • Acouscenic Listening as a practice of auditory engagement further challenges the dominance of the pragmatic visual object and counteracts a prevailing dependence upon a predominantly ocular-centric focus of reading an environment through visual metaphors. Sound is the medium of creative self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of listening, thinking and action, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail. The practice explores the continuous integration of everyday sounds in sound/music composition that seeks to insert the sounds of the banal, the mundane and the everyday directly into live performance. 
  • Acouscenic Listening educates the listening subject in a process of aural way finding. Auditory engagement with space and place is the result of a reciprocal process between the listener and the sonic environment. The environment suggests distinctions and relations that enable the listener to select, organize, and transform the meaning of what is heard.  Therefore, the listener plays an active role in perceiving sound in the world and a creative role in developing an impression of a given soundscape, which in turn may lead to greater emotional satisfaction, creative stimuli and communicative experiences of the everyday.
  • Acouscenic Listening through its application of the Creative Soundwalk promotes the value of non-judgmental listening and actively seeks to deconstruct the boundaries between the listener and the listened. The Creative Soundwalk differs from traditional soundwalk methodoligies in terms of its objectives to locate the practice within the everyday and to encourage its participants to be active listeners, researchers and creative participants. Such sonorous immersions in public space potentially create the conditions for spontaneous attentive collaborative opportunities or actions of creativity for artists, performers and audience. The material for all Acouscenic Listening performances is drawn in part or wholly, from the mapped sonic events undertaken on the Creative Soundwalk. 
  • Acouscenic Listening proposes an alternative model of holistic art production and draws upon methodologies from a range of non-art practices such as Acoustic Ecology, Deep Listening, Eastern philosophies, Mindfulness, Improvisation and Tai Chi/Qigong exercises with social art practice applications. 
  • Acouscenic Listening methodologies are designed to enhance skills in mindfulness, listening, and attuning to space; body and voice synergized as instruments of creativity and well-being. Mindful meditative practices of Tai Chi and Qigong are utilized in order to quieten and nurture the listening body through energy exercises, collaborative sonic meditations and improvised performance. Conscious training of our listening attention leads to an awareness that creativity is disclosed in moments, therefore being fully present in these moments nurtures an appreciation of the transformative possibility of creative encounters
  • Acouscenic Listening is both socially communicative and creatively pedagogic, working with communities of interest to share ‘expert’ and ‘lay’ knowledge and allowing participants to find their voice or form of expression that can co-exist with others in a communal discourse. We cannot honestly claim to be self-reliant. We are co-dependent. Declaring this to ourselves is not an embrace of the banal or the unoriginal, it is in fact a deliverance from the delusion of the artist ego.
  • Acouscenic Listeners practitioners embrace improvisation, play and ‘not knowing’ and strive to contribute new procedures to Acouscenic Listening compositions in order to establish a community of feeling or a communal starting point through ritual. The practice encourages both the professional and amateur artist to takes risks in terms of potential creative outcomes. The amateur, far from being second to the professional, is at the forefront of creative experimentation and validates his/her own aesthetic experience. 
  • Acouscenic listening promotes an alternative pedagogical model; counteracting the reliance on and promotion of a traditional bias for individual studio based Fine Art practice. The practice proposes alternative delivery modes to counteract a dependency on the white cube gallery system and calls for public performances to be held in sites more conducive to engagement with new audiences.  
  • Acouscenic Listening calls for an art that is alive with all aspects of human sonic experience of the everyday. Acouscenic Listening is an international movement. This is a call for Acouscenic Listeners of the world to unite! 

In this book chapter, artist Sean Taylor outlines a series of Acouscenic Listening workshops through which participants document and track the evolution of projects through walking, sound mapping and performance, pp.54-59.

View the Creative Soundwalk Scores here.

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