Sonic Ecologies

Urban parks are not quiet places cordoned off from the city. There is no boundary separating city from park, urban life from realms people still call “nature”. Parks promise another kind of rush and rhythm. The sounds of cars and trucks and planes are never fully muted. They just propagate differently. Muffled and modulated by trees and shrubs, birds and squirrels and insects, ravines and slopes, city sounds resonate in a distinct vibratory milieu. Urban parks generate their own noises too. There are the chipmunks with their shrill warning calls that come always with a shiver of movement, a rustle in the leaf litter. And the cicadas in the summer, sounding like electricity running in lines along the wires. In the oak savannah in High Park, there is a sandy hillside here the grasshoppers and dragon flies and wasps in high summer make such a din that they drown out the drone of planes above. If you slow down a recording of the sounds in this space you can almost hear bird calls ricochet off the trees, making it seem as if echolocation is not the sole provenance of the big brown bats who deftly navigate this space at dusk. What do you hear?