Sound and Listening Workshops

SubAmbient SoundLab
Mapping Found Sounds
Sounds of the Earth, Sea and Sky


SubAmbient SoundLab

SubAmbient Sound refers to sounds discovered through excavation, sounds found below the surfaces of things and places. What seemed solid and fixed is revealed as changing, resonant and alive. The SubAmbient Sound Workshop provides opportunities for participants to engage with new pathways of mapping places, memories and knowledge. Read more.

Presented at:
Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium, Toronto,CA
Middlebury College, VT
Fleming Museum of Art, VT


Sub Ambient Sound Demo


Jenn Karson’s Sonic Mapping Workshop Explores Burlington

On Wednesday, April 15, and Saturday, April 18, Karson will teach others what she’s learned in a unique, two-part soundscape workshop at the Fleming Museum titled Mapping Found Sounds. It’s one part maker crash course, one part scavenger hunt and all conceptual art. The workshop will delve into a realm of sound art that Karson says takes its cue from avant-garde composers such as John Cage, who experimented with everyday ambient noises. (One of Cage’s best-known pieces is “4’33″” — named for the four minutes and 33 seconds in which the musicians are instructed not to play their instruments; the piece is the sounds of the audience and their surrounding environment.)

The result of “Mapping Found Sounds” will be a sonic map of the Burlington area. What will that sound like? Karson has no idea — she’s leaving that part up to the students. Certainly, though, participants shouldn’t expect to stand on street corners and record traffic noises.

Part 1 of Karson’s workshop will teach students how to repurpose the contact microphones in cellphones, computers, toys and other devices to make a simple listening instrument that can attach to headphones. The contact microphone changes the way a human ear hears a sound: The listener hears only the vibrational resonance of the sound waves, not the extra noise that might identify that resonance as, say, a door slamming or a car honking.

In Part 2, students will explore the Burlington area, placing their listening device on buildings, sidewalks, street lamps and elsewhere to “discover hidden sounds” in the area, as Karson puts it. “I want to have a reflection on Burlington that’s really new,” she says.

Read More

Xian Chiang-Waren, Seven Days Newspaper, 2015


Sounds of the Earth Sea and Sky

There are many ways to know a place…

Exploring Ring Mountain and Marin Country Day School (MCDS) Campus in Corte Madera, California was an opportunity for 7th and 4th graders to explore a place familiar to them with “fresh ears.”

Class 1: We began in the MCDS outdoor classroom on Ring Mountain. Students sat quietly and listened, recording what they heard through words and diagrams.

Class 2: Students created a unique symbol system to represent sounds of the earth, sea and sky. Reflecting on the data they collected in class 1, they plotted out their symbols to create sound maps.

Class 1
left: Sound maps and data sheets were exhibited together.
Right: class 2 (4th grade)
4th grade sound maps
7th grade sound maps

Melita Morales, 7th Grade Art Teacher, MCDS
Benny Sethi, 4th Grad Art Teacher, MCDS

More documentation about this program is available here.