What if…everything you need is already inside you?

A sound-based, four-week-long special project
Designed & facilitated by Margot Leigh Butler

What if we already have within us awarenesses we can depend on to ease and perhaps inspire our way through this pandemic, and afterward, too? What if they can be roused through sound? Through listening inside to our heartbeats and breath, then listening to the sound of a squeeky door hinge on the way out for a cherished walk, anticipating the whole world opening up. And when you step outside, the earth welcomes you with myriad sounds. Just listen. Just walk.

A “soundwalk” is walking while doing nothing but listening, immersing ourselves in the sounds we’re always bathed in, unaware, and becoming aware of the sounds already inside us. The soundwalk is a listening practice where the walker improvises with their acoustic, sonic environment, concertedly. Each and every Hum experience is an improvisation where everyone depends on everyone else. “Depends on” can mean listens to, respects, values, and perhaps grows to care for…. Improvising is being in the moment, immersed, implicated, situated, and working with who and what is there. Improvising is doing! It’s a willingness…and improvising is always already inside us. Find a sweet spot—perhaps in your shower…or at a BLM demonstration, and let your voice ring out: if you can hum, you can shout, you can sing!

Consider the sounds abounding at CRAB Park, the only beachfront park in the Downtown Eastside, fought long and hard for by local residents and so named with the acronym of Create a Real Available Beach, and dedicated to the memory of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. There are tender and joyous sounds there, always. And there are sounds in so many registers, since this park hosts helicopter pads, a hovercraft mooring, train tracks, jetty construction, trucks hauling containers from the Vancouver Fraser Port  Authority…yet within this you can hear the resonance of a drum circle, of musicians playing cello, crystal bowls, trumpet, guitar, drums, of birds and barking dogs, laughter and more. It is a rich soundscape to improvise with!

Deep listening practices tone up our awareness of place, embodiment, experience, nuance, of making distinctions, of listening to silence AND making noise (our heartbeats, our drumbeats).

This project’s shells contains images, readings, methods and instruments for improvising with and immersing ourselves in the sound around us, maps for local soundwalks, breathing exercises, reminders of how our body breathes and how to appreciate this even more, musical notation books for writing about these experiences in, and Chinese wind chimes small enough to fit in any window.