The Sound of 2020

A slow weave of some of 2020’s Field Recordings in chronological order.

Pebble Bay, Nuuk, Greenland in March 2020 by Katalin Laszlo

“It’s -20 degrees, and at first I can’t see anything in the blindingly white frozen world. After a minute, I start to make out the sprinkles of grey mountain rock and a few colourful houses that are almost swallowed by enormous piles of snow.

Freezing rain against a window, New York, USA in March 2020 by Ariana Martinez

“I always love waking up to the sound of rain – so to wake up and hear that crackling hail sound on the window was really peaceful to me. I really wanted to linger in that as much as possible.”

Binaural recording between twin bridges, New York, USA in early Spring 2020 by Sean Johnson

“This is a binaural recording while I was standing between the North Grand Island Bridges in Grand Island New York.”

Terrace, Rome, Italy, during the lockdown in March 2020 by Daria Corrias

“Everyday at 6pm people go on their balconies or terraces and start singing. Everyday a different song, today was ‘Volare’ by Domenico Modugno. In this recording you can hear kids singing and applauding, bells from the nearby church, birds tweeting, a train (I live close to a small railway station – trains come and go most of the time almost empty). I have to say that in these days I like the sound of the train more then ever.”

Paris, France, 8pm on 20th March 2020 by Moon Hussain

The applause and banging of pans which erupts every evening at 8pm out of the windows – for all the doctors, health care workers, and staff staying to help at the grocery stores.

Clapping NHS Workers, Spitalfields, London, UK in March 2020 by Audrey Gillan

“This is the sound from Spitalfields, recorded from my balcony which doesn’t face onto the street. You can hear me sniffing because I am crying.”

Morning in my garden, Denmark in March 2020 by Rikke Houd

“Recorded in my garden at 7.15 in the morning during a time of self-isolation… An old garden with many bushes and trees in which this little society of birds can unfold in spite of several sneaky cats in the area.”

Church in the woods, Louisiana, USA in April 2020 by Mara Lazer

“I stumbled into this church in the woods while walking near the Barataria Preserve, protected wetlands in southern Louisiana that are closed due to Covid. I keep coming back to listen. Every night at 6pm different sounds play out as scattered people fish along the bayou.”

8pm, Castellar, France in April 2020 by Charlotte Rouault

Recorded in southeastern France, as the key worker clap begins.

42nd St and 1st Avenue, New York, USA in April 2020 by Ben Riskin

“Recorded in Manhattan on April 7th, from 6:58pm EST – 7:03pmish. We had the highest virus death count last night.” 

Saxophonist, Rome, Italy in April 2020 by Daria Corrias

“Now at 6pm, no one sings anymore. Maybe people have started to feel tired, I don’t know. But there is a guy, in a building close to mine, that plays his saxophone – everyday at 6pm. So, so, so beautiful because it’s not that close – and I can hear it from my terrace. Everyday I have a glass of wine at the sunset, listen to a silent city… I feel my breath changing.”

Easter lunch in Pouilly-sur-Loire, France in April 2020 by Abi McNeil

“Lunch with my family has recently become a significant event. We try to elevate the household mood with delicious things, such as a gratin of courgettes, bacon with endives or grilled chipolatas. Today is Easter Monday and it’s also the second birthday we’re celebrating in confinement. We’re having a Brandade de morue (a creamy cod) with champagne. The kids, already high on chocolate bunnies, are dancing to Steely Dan. My mother in law is spinning lettuce – rinsing, turning, emptying. ‘Should have given the water to the plants’, she says, rinsing one last time. I’m thinking about my hunger, this moment, and the bright green salad leaves spinning in the cold water.”

Sounds of the celebration of Portuguese democracy, Lisbon, Portugal in April 2020 by Sofia Saldanha

“On the 25th April we celebrate the 1974 Revolution that brought democracy to Portugal. Every year on this day people gather in the streets holding red carnations and shouting ’25th April always. Fascism, never again!’. In Lisbon, during the lockdown, people were at their windows singing and listening to ‘Grandola Vila Morena’ a Portuguese song by José Afonso. This song was broadcast on the radio on 25th April 1974, as the second signal to start the Carnation Revolution and since then, has become a symbol of Portuguese resistance.”

7.00pm in Conway, Massachusetts, USA in April 2020 by Sara Brooke-Curtis

“I was tired and needed space to myself. The wildness of nature often grounds me and so I left my family inside and stepped into my backyard. When I stepped outside I saw that the rain was coming, but it hadn’t hit yet. The smell of the incoming storm was enough to keep me out there.

Emergency siren test, Copenhagen, Denmark in May 2020 by Tim Hinman

“A test of emergency sirens across the city at 12 noon once a year.”

Mind Body Results, Black Lives Matter bike protest, riding down Atlantic Avenue, New York, USA in June 2020 by JT Green

“Blackness, freedom and cycling feel connected. In a country where we aren’t free, bikes allow us to take at least some of that freedom back, using our minds and bodies to take us wherever we want to go.”

Someone practicing saxophone down the street, Brooklyn, New York, USA in June 2020 by JT Green

“Just wanted to share a clip of my neighbour playing saxophone. I went out to smoke and they were just going to town, loved this humanity…”

Rain Shower, Stoke Newington, London, UK in June 2020 by Paul Smith

“Opening my back door on a rare wet summer evening in Hackney, to let in the scent of petrichor. ‘A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.’”

Babbling brook stroll, Devil’s Glen, Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada in June 2020 by Veronica Simmonds

“I sat by this brook for a long time recording its burblings before an older couple walked down the trail, ‘taking pictures of the water are ya?’ the man asked. ‘No just listening…’. As they walked away around the curve of the path I heard him say, ‘Listening to water?! Ha!’ But I kept listening, and eventually made my way back to my granny’s house through a forest of birds.”

Morning Swim, Belle Isle State Park, Detroit, Michigan, USA in July 2020 by Zak Rosen

“On the 1,000 acre island, just over one-mile from our home, on the eastside of Detroit, there’s a swimming hole I like to go to as much as I can. On a summer, weekday morning, if I’m lucky, I’ll be the only one there. Here I am, the morning of July 14th, swimming like a little kid, all alone, until a young couple and their dog and their boombox, come to join me.”

Fireworks, Bronx, New York, USA in July 2020 by Ariana Martinez

“This past June, at least in the US, there was a sense that the fireworks going off well into the night, every night, across neighbourhoods in major cities were a kind of psychological warfare tactic deployed by the police to wear down the energy of protestors engaging in the Black Lives Matter uprisings. Or, alternately, being set off to deliberately attract police attention to certain neighborhoods. These speculations aside, the fireworks were producing a lot of anxiety at the time. Whether these speculations were “true” or not is kind of irrelevant to me because the feeling that these fireworks were ominous or threatening rather than celebratory lingers simply due to their time and place. This is a recording I made as I stood at my window on the night of June 21, 2020. These huge, professional grade fireworks were being set off on my street, loud enough to rattle the walls.”  

Thunderstorm outside a tent, Cévennes, France in summer 2020 by Sarah Cuddon

“It was the middle of the night and the thunder woke me. My family slept on peacefully. But I’d never heard thunder like it. It was quite thrilling. Like a party of huge giants stumbling down the river Tarn and across the great wooded crater where our tiny tent was pitched.”

Kittens purring, Regents Canal, London, UK in July 2020 by Andrea Rangecroft

“The ducks and geese used to wake me up at dawn but now it’s the kittens. They crawl into bed and find a nook to settle down in until breakfast.”

Lake Pyhäselkä in Joensuu, Finland in August 2020 by Lauri Liimatta

“One of the last warm and sunny summer days by the lake Pyhäselkä in Joensuu, Finland. Small waves gently crashing on the rocks.”

The 270-fuelled, electromagnetic energy of Park Place, Brooklyn, USA in November 2020 by JT Green

“It’s (finally) a good day in Brooklyn.”

At the window, Brooklyn, USA in November 2020 by Lu Olkowski

“Late Saturday morning (or was it afternoon), I was sitting in my pajamas, still drinking coffee and engaging in general lazing when I heard something outside… Opened the window to hear car horns and pots and pans. Someone yelled, “You’re fired!” Then, “We Are the Champions” from speakers pointed outside someone’s window.”

18th Street Northwest, Adams Morgan, Washington DC, USA in November 2020 by Adam Taylor

Downtown Chicago, USA in November 2020 by Miles Kampf-Lassin

Turkeys, North East Syria in November 2020 by Barny Smith

“Breakfast with a rafter of Turkeys”

A night walk through the first snow of the year before it will melt tomorrow, Roihuvuori water tower, East Helsinki, Finland in November 2020 by Miia Laine

“I live nearby this really captivating and ominous water tower so walked up the hill there. It sounded surprisingly crunchy because it’s gotten quite icy and I was walking through some icy long grass, so maybe not the typical snow sound.”

Woods, one hour before in November 2020 by Eleanor McDowall

“Walking through the woods behind the cemetery, the spiked edges of the holly scratching a thin pattern through my tights.”

Cooking and distant Christmas piano, Sussex, UK in December 2020 by Phil Smith

“Leah was chopping brussels sprouts and putting them into a risotto, which is an amazing thing she does around this time of year. I was doing a bad attempt at trying to work out what Bill Evans does in his version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

Winter Forest, Bala, Ontario in December 2020 by Jess Shane

“Spending my quarantine in the woods. The snow mostly makes everything extra quiet, but when the wind blows you can hear the cracking of branches and gentle thuds of boughs giving way.”