Soundscape Project

Being a part of the soundscape project has allowed me to observe nature in a whole new way. I listen to the sounds of nature and the contrasting sounds of humans or human influence wherever I am. ..When I take my friends on field trips to go recording, every one of them has commented on how unique of a perspective this is. Even though they have heard all these sounds before, they haven't experience them like this. - Zachary Beltz, ENSP major and SSU Center Steward


It isn’t often that Electrical Engineers get the opportunity to work on a project preserving the sounds of the land and animals around Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Working in this cross-disciplinary team also provided an exciting forum for us to complement our differing background and talents...After working on this project, I found myself stopping and really listening to the ambient tones of the outdoors; as the Soundscape project brought a new appreciation for the music mother nature has to offer. - Eric Waugh, Engineering Science Major

meadow, woodland, vista

This cross disciplinary project seeks to increase awareness about changing natural soundscapes. Soundscape refers to the total acoustic environment surrounding the listener. Although sound is an important and irreplaceable component of all academic fields, the complex interplay of sounds and its effects on organisms has only in recent decades become a field of study.

With training from bioacoustics expert Dr. Bernie Krause, students from Environmental Studies and Planning recorded a diversity of natural and man-made sounds in the field. These recordings were archived and edited by Engineering Students into a sound library. Composer Jesse Olsen Bay created a score from the diversity of sounds that are then being used by dance students to create an interpretive performance. Performances are scheduled for November and December 2013 in Person and Weill Halls. The project is funded by the GMC/Academic Integration Program and Sonoma County Community Foundation.

2013 Performances

Person Theatre Shows ($10-$17; students are free). For tickets: (Click on Fall Dance Concert)

  • Thursday 11/21 - 7:30 pm. Preshow panel discussion with Dr. Bernie Krause at 6 pm, followed by reception and opening performance at 7:30
  • Friday 11/22 - 7:30 pm
  • Saturday 11/23 - 7:30 pm
  • Sunday 11/24 - 2:00 pm

Green Music Center Show (free to all; reservations required). For free tickets:

  • Friday 12/6 - FREE Performance: 12-1 pm

Project Lead(s): Kristen Daley

Dates: Summer and Fall 2013

Scholarship: Service-learning; student assistantships

Course(s): Intermediate and Advanced Acting and Dance Blocks, Dance Ensemble, and Choreography

Funding: GMC/Academic Integration Program, Sonoma County Community Foundation


Faculty:  Kristen Daley (Theatre Arts & Dance); Jack Ou (Engineering Science);

Students: David Golden (ENSP), Zachary Beltz (ENSP), Eric Waugh (ES), Alberto Maldonado (ES), and Dance Students (names pending)

Partners: Theatre Arts & Dance; Bernie Krause (Wild Sanctuary): Jesse Olsen Bay (Composer); Engineering Science; Center for Environmental Inquiry

ENSP and Engineering Science students were trained by Bernie Krause to use the handheld Samson Zoom H4N recorders and Audition CS6 (Mac) for manipulating and archiving recordings. Between late May and end of June, recorders were used to sample biophonic, geophonic and anthrophonic sounds in a variety of environments, including Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, Faifield Osborn Preserve and other location in the region (e.g., coastal areas). During recording, students used standardized protocols including datasheets and vocal data input. Recordings included dawn choruses of bird song, bird song at other times of day, cicadas, crickets and other instects, evening and nocturnal sounds, water, wind, and human made sounds such as footsteps or equipment. Engineering students archived recorded material and used Adobe Audition to remove human and wind interference to create "best of" recordings to be made available as indoor soundscapes and ambient noise for events and functions. Raw recordings were delivered to Composer Jesse Olsen Bay who created an original composition designed to encourage exploration of sounds by dance students (Intermediate and Advanced Acting and Dance Blocks, Dance Ensemble, or Choreography) under the direction of Dr. Kristen Daley. Students created an original dance based on the composition and performed their piece as part of dance recitals in Person Theater and Weill Hall.


  • 12 gigabyte archive of soundscapes from the Center's preserves and surrounding region (available on request)
  • "Best of" Preserve Soundscape Recordings (posted to Soundcloud) available for events, functions, and relaxed listening


  • Performance recordings (coming Fall 2013)