Gordon Hempton

Acoustic Ecologist

The Sound Tracker

Acoustic Ecologist

The Sound Tracker

Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist. He cares very deeply about quiet. As The Sound Tracker® he has circled the globe three times over the last 35 years in pursuit of Earth’s rarest nature sounds—sounds which can only be fully appreciated in the absence of manmade noise. He hopes that you will linger awhile on his website and enjoy the sonic wonders of our planet, and then join him in defending the live concert by visiting One Square Inch of Silence.

Gordon Hempton lives near Olympic National Park in the rugged northwest corner of Washington State, quiet enough to be a recording studio–and it is. In the photo to the right, he is recording Nature’s Largest Violin. He has positioned his microphone system that replicates 3-D human hearing inside a giant Sitka spruce log. This tree grew in the nearby rain forest and then floated down the Bogachiel River before coming to a rest (temporarily) at Rialto Beach. The wood of this tree species has special properties that make it ideal for crafting violins, guitars, and other acoustic instruments because the wood produces a sound when exposed to the slightest vibration. But here, instead of a bow drawn across violin strings, the sound of distant surf is powerful enough to cause this Sitka log to produce its own deep, harmonic concert. This sound is impossible to adequately describe but easily heard.

Gordon Hempton

Join internationally acclaimed acoustic ecologist, Gordon Hempton, as we listen to sunrise circle the globe, hear snow melt, whales sing and discover that the Earth is music, clear enough to hum all day. And let’s re-examine our widely held belief that the human ear evolved to hear human speech. We will listen to nature sounds that fit neatly into our peak hearing sensitivity (2 kHz-5 kHz) and speculate about the evolutionary consequences of detecting these sounds over great distances. During modern times with our global environmental crises is it enough to hear ourselves or must we, as a species still subject to the laws of survival, once again listen to what the Earth is telling us. The work of Gordon Hempton will change the way you look and listen to the world around you.

Ivo Valkenburg

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