Silence in Sound: A Collection of Ambient Field Recordings

This episode of Encountering Silence is a little different from our regular format. Carl McColman gives co-hosts Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson the week off, and shares an assortment of field recordings — mostly, but not entirely, recordings of nature from a variety of locations, times of day, and times of year. All of these recordings were captured by either Carl or his wife Fran, using their iphones. These are recordings of birds in South Carolina, a waterfall in North Carolina, the surf on the Pacific coast of California, the wind whistling in Scotland, and many more. While mostly recordings of the natural world, there are human-made sounds as well, from the traffic of Atlanta, to an almost mystical art installation in London’s Kew Gardens.

Fran and Carl McColman, McClures Beach, California, December 2018

So why, on a podcast devoted to speaking about silence, are we opting this episode for a collection of sound recordings? Even though they were recorded by amateurs, hopefully these ambient recordings are interesting and maybe even beautiful. But this is meant to be more than just an aesthetic experience.

Poster promoting the Hive at Kew Gardens

Carl notes, “I believe that silence is more than just the absence of sound — that silence is also a state of mind, or perhaps a state of the heart. Silence is that place where we can be truly receptive to what life has to offer us, show us, and teach us. We need silence to listen to each other, and to listen to the still small voice of God within. My hope is that these field recordings will represent, for you, a chance to listen for the silence that exists even in the midst of nature’s sounds and songs. There’s silence in between the notes of a bird’s song, in the pause of the rhythm of the surf, and in the midst of a babbling brook. So I invite you to listen for the silence between the sound waves — and maybe even in the midst of these ambient sounds.”

McClures Beach, California, video by Fran McColman — one of the ambient field recordings collected in this episode of Encountering Silence.

Some resources related to places, etc. mentioned in this episode:

Episode 128: Encountering Silence in Sound: A Collection of Ambient Field Recordings
Hosted by: Carl McColman
Date Recorded: February 14, 2021 (field recordings at various dates)

Featured image: Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; photo by Carl McColman

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

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