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Deep Listening

In Search of the Earth’s Wild Voices

Hank Lentfer and Richard Nelson in Glacier Bay collecting sounds for posterity

Recording sounds in the vast Wilderness of Glacier Bay National Park.

The wild voices of North America – yipping coyotes and melodic thrushes, rushing water and whispering grasses, thundering bison and chattering wrens – have shaped human culture since people first ventured onto the continent. Once widespread voices, like the buffalo and bobcat, passenger pigeon and gray wolf, are either gone or sequestered in isolated pockets of wild lands. Other voices, fall geese and summer meadowlarks, raucous ravens and gentle rain, are nearby but shrouded by a veil of human noise. What is lost when the soundscapes echo the human-made world rather than the wider world which supports us all? What can be gained by re-tuning our ears to the beautiful diversity of natural voices singing out in endless concert?




Click on the picture for the new FORGOTTEN VOICES: LISTENING TO THE LANGUAGE OF EARTH movie trailer. password = SOUNDS. Be sure to turn up the volume!

The Project

Deep Listening will be a short (30 minutes) exploration into the world of natural sound and the art, science, and importance of listening. Much of the footage will center in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, home to crumpling glaciers and whooshing whales, bellowing moose and rattling cranes. The film will follow two close friends in their multi-year quest to record the voices of a place – everything from a vole chewing grass seeds to a wolf howling alongside the sea. In addition to scenic Alaskan footage, the film will showcase a soundtrack built around a deep library of natural sounds. The crew aims to produce a provocative piece that questions the role of human sounds (music) in the production of films about nature.

The Crew

Liz McKenzie

Liz McKenzie is an award-winning writer and filmmaker based in Sitka, Alaska. Her work focuses on the nature, science and traditional ecological knowledge of Alaska. Her projects have been funded by various organizations including NOAA, the North Pacific Research Board, the Educational Foundation of America, Gates of the Arctic National Park, the Salmon Project and Encounters: Radio Experiences of the North. Her films have been featured at numerous film festivals and conferences throughout the United States and internationally, including the American Documentary Film Festival, Colorado Environmental Film Festival, the American Geophysical Union Cinema, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Alaska Geographic Ocean Film Festival, Explorer’s Club Polar Film Festival, Wildlife Conservation Film Festival and Wildlife Vaasa International Nature Film Festival.

Hank Lentfer and Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson is an anthropologist, author, and radio producer living in Sitka Alaska. After years writing about the human relationship to the natural world Richard traded pen for microphone and spent a decade listening. The voices he heard inspired over a hundred 30-minute nationally broadcast radio program. Hank Lentfer is an author and sound recordist living in Gustavus Alaska alongside Glacier Bay National Park. After several years deeply listening and recording the wild voices in his 3-million-acre backyard he’s become a passionate advocate for the importance and joy of deep listening.