The Sound of 2023

A slow weave of some of the past year’s Field Recordings, from a church in Vilnius to a floating choir in Copenhagen.

Orthodox Christmas service, Catholic Church of St. Johns, Vilnius, Lithuania on 7th January 2023 – by Vaida Pilibaitytė

“On January 7th I went to an unusual Orthodox Christmas service at the Catholic Church of St. Johns in Vilnius… organised by the Lithuanian Orthodox priests who left Moscow Patriarchate and are now serving Ukrainian refugees and other members of the Orthodox community in Lithuania who do not want to pray in the churches of Moscow Patriarchate. This was a very moving bilingual service, where father Heorhiy Kovalenko was praying in Ukrainian for all those displaced by the war and those helping them, and the carol singers (if this is a correct term) were answering in both Ukrainian and Lithuanian.”

Whistling wind rattling the windows, inside the library, London, UK in January 2023 – by Siddharth Khajuria

Summer dusk with birds near Vedia, Buenos Aires province, Argentina in January 2023 – by Joaquín Conde

“I recorded this landscape on a summer afternoon, in a pasture land where a canal and a country road intersect… Over the steady sound of the frogs and insects, one can hear the calls and songs of the different local birds”

Sounding stairs, Kaunas, Lithuania on 19th January 2023 – by Marta Medvešek

“I heard the sound from afar, and thought it was in my head until I came closer…”

Goose night, Eskdalemuir, Scotland, UK on 24th January 2023 – by Geoff McQueen

“It gets really dark in Eskdalemuir. In winter it is sometimes so dark and foggy that you can literally see nothing. Once or twice a winter I step out my back door and can hear the sound of geese flying and honking directly over head. They feel really close. This can last for hours and is wonderfully creepy as you can never actually see the geese. We call this Goose Night.”

Crows, Vancouver, Canada on 27th January 2023 at 4pm – by Martin Zaltz Austwick

“Walking down the street and a shitload of crows tipped up”

Thawing ice, Tammisalo canal, Helsinki, Finland on 4th February 2023 – by Miia Laine

“The February full moon had just come up and I was on a stunning Saturday afternoon walk around sunset, the sky was a beautiful red. I stopped by the Tammisalo canal for a few minutes which was still frozen but beginning to thaw very loudly.”

Department of Education, Westminster, London, UK on 15th February 2023 – by Tash Walker

“I went to Brianna Ghey’s vigil last night outside the Department of Education. It was a very emotional and affecting time, with people standing together holding candles and lighters, whilst chanting Brianna Ghey’s name. We are in the midst of what feels like a suffocatingly transphobic time, but to stand united in love and solidarity for our trans and non-binary siblings felt powerful. I recorded the one minute silence that was held at 7pm, after which we all collectively chanted her name. The silence that hangs in the air after fizzes with anger, power, love and hope. It was heartbreaking and breathtaking.” 

Walking in the snow, Vancouver, Canada on 25th February 2023 at 11.30pm – by Martin Zaltz Austwick

Underwater, Førdefjord, north of Bergen, Norway in February 2023 – by Jay Richardson

“Myself and my co-editor (at The Sonification) went to cover a story about a mining company that has permits to start an open pit project in a rural area about 150km north of Bergen, with all the waste rock and process chemicals to be deposited in the nearby fjord—which also happens to be a pristine National Salmon Fjord… The underwater recording is from a hydrophone at 5 metres’ depth, with some mysterious scrapes and gurgles that could be from marine life, of which there’s a lot… There’s also some drilling sounds, which probably come from the construction and tunnelling work at the mine, although I can’t be sure.” 

Woodpeckers in Wandle Park, London, UK on 3rd April – by Andrew Strangeway

“I was waiting to meet a friend and there were at least two woodpeckers in the trees in the park. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them really clearly.”

Pigeon in the cinema, London, UK on 15th April 2023 – by Sam Clements and Louise Owen

“On Saturday 15 April, a pigeon showcased it’s cinephile credentials by joining a packed audience in the BFI Southbank’s biggest auditorium (NFT 1) for a screening of Mervyn LeRoy’s classic movie, Gold Diggers of 1933… This recording was taken in the audience, before the film was started, whilst venue staff tried to coax the pigeon towards a fire escape. It starts just as they decided it might be worth playing some cat sounds into the PA system.” 

Argentino Lake shores in front of Spegazzini Glacier, Santa Cruz, Argentina in April 2023 – by Joaquín Conde   

“I had the chance to leave my recorder by the shore of Argentino Lake for a few minutes; facing the imposing walls of Spegazzini Glacier. It was a cloudy day, not too windy, and a light drizzle was beginning to fall.” 

Emergency alert system test, Oxford Circus, London, UK, around 2.58pm on 23rd April 2023 – by Anthony Ing

Jack in the Green procession, Hastings, UK on 1st May 2023 – by Jorge Stride

“I was at the Jack in the Green procession in Hastings Old Town earlier today and managed to get a quick recording of the various players (in wonderful garbs) drifting in and out as they marched.” 

A rickshaw journey through Bengaluru, India, at dusk, as heavy rain begins to fall on 1st May 2023 – by Siddharth Khajuria

Musical cacophony pouring through the open windows of practice rooms, London, UK on 18th May 2023 – by Eleanor McDowall

“Each year, as the weather gets warmer, the musicians open the windows of their practice rooms and the sounds of jazz bands, opera singers and soloists pour out into the sunshine – interweaving with lawnmowers, helicopters and the sound of the water alongside.”

Whistling wind, Reykjavík, Iceland on 20th May 2023 – by agnieszka czyżewska jacquemet

Eider ducks in the glacier river lagoon (Jökulsárlón) as rain falls, Vatnajökull National Park, south coast of Iceland on Friday 26th May 2023 – by Eleanor McDowall

“Icebergs break off the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and drift through the water into the Atlantic Ocean, some of them glowing a surreal, bright blue – others vast and blackened like old ships. Small pieces of ice wash onto the shore of the black sand beach, tiny glass sculptures alongside the smooth water-worn pebbles. This lagoon started forming in 1934 when the glacier began to retreat and has increased fourfold since the early 1970s as the speed of melting has increased.”

Outside the Black Lion in Plaistow, London, UK, at 7.45pm on Thursday 8th June 2023, for the passing of the open top bus following West Ham’s victory in the Europa Conference League Final – by Alan Hall

Spanish Point (Rinn na Spáinneach), County Clare, (Contae an Chláir), Ireland on 8th June 2023 – by Kalli Anderson

Chair lift to the Wolzenalp, Switzerland, on Saturday 10th June 2023 – by This Wachter 

“The slow journey from the valley to the mountain takes a good 20 minutes over meadows, trees and 400 meters in altitude.”

Thunderstorm, Abney Park Cemetery, London, UK on 12th June 2023 – by Joe Harvey-Whyte

“Caught in a thunderstorm on a hot London day in Abney Park cemetery.”

Royal Courts of Justice, London, UK on Saturday 17th June 2023 at 1.30pm

“Thousands of protestors gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice to call for the decriminalisation of abortion. Abortion in England and Wales still falls under criminal law in 2023 – specifically the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. 67 people have faced legal prosecutions in the past decade alone. A few days before this protest happened, Carla Foster was sentenced to more than two years in prison for procuring drugs to induce an abortion after the legal limit.”

Mountain goats, Kefalonia, Greece, in June 2023 – by Tash Walker

“I was in Greece last week, on my first full day there I was on an early morning walk when I started to hear this distant sound of bells but couldn’t see where it was coming from. Then out of nowhere, I started to see so many mountain goats with bells around their necks. It felt really quite magical, and such a beautiful sound.”

Carillon, Sint Janskerk, Gouda, Netherlands in June 2023 – by Paul Ridout

“I was cycling from Amsterdam to Lille and stayed overnight in Gouda where I went to the market square just before 11pm and caught the carillon of the church of St John”

Frogs of Lac Labelle at 1am, Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard, Quebec, Canada on 4th July 2023 – by Mira Burt-Wintonick

Competing fireworks, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, New York City, USA on 4th July 2023 – by Jon Moskowitz

“Every 4th of July in my neighborhood, there is an hours-long competition to see which corner can launch the most illegal fireworks. It gets quite intense, and I recorded it this year with binaural mics. I guess this is the diametric opposite to the stereotypical field recording of a quiet rural meadow–but I thought I’d submit it, in case it catches your interest.”

Loons of Lac Forbes at Sunset, Mont-Tremblant National Park, Québec, Canada on 19th July 2023 – by Mira Burt-Wintonick

Demonstration at the Italian Embassy, London, UK on 2nd August 2023 – by Lisa Hack

“In January, Italy’s right-wing government ordered state agencies to cease registration of children born to same-sex couples. Now they’ve taken it a step further: a state prosecutor in northern Italy has ordered the cancellation and re-issuance of 33 birth certificates of lesbian couples’ children, endangering access to medical care and education. Non-gestational mothers are receiving letters informing them that they are being retroactively removed from their children’s birth certificates. New birth certificates are being issued listing the name of only one of the child’s mothers.”

Delta del Tigre, Argentina on 4th August 2023 – by Eva Moeraert

“The Tigre Delta is among the world’s largest, and it is one of the only major deltas in the world that does not empty into a sea or ocean. It flows instead into the Río de la Plata, which separates Argentina and Uruguay, after the Río Paraná splits into several smaller rivers and forms a multitude of sedimentary islands covered in forest and grasslands.” 

Tywardreath ringing the bells of St Barts, Lostwithiel, UK on 9th August 2023 – by Celia Robbins

“These are the church bells of St Bartholomew in the town of Lostwithiel around 8.30pm on a still evening. The next morning I put my foot in it by congratulating my bell ringing neighbour on how great they’d been sounding, only to be told that they were taking the summer off and last night’s ringers were from the neighbouring village of Tywardreath.”

Electrical storm, East London, UK on 18th September 2023 at 1am – by Joe Harvey-Whyte

“A binaural recording of an electrical storm followed by heavy rain from a back garden in East London at 1am”

Gaggles of geese, River Thame, England, UK on 23rd September 2023 – by Paul Ridout

“I was out in the fields by the River Thame yesterday morning and the geese were clearly excited by the amount of water across the meadows and were making a huge racket as they flew around in gaggles.”

Midnight Soundscape, Sedona, Arizona, USA on 5th October 2023 – by Joe Harvey-Whyte

“A strong wind blows across the canyon, rustling trees. The sound of crickets can be heard all around.”

Palestinian Solidarity March, London, UK on 11th November 2023

“On 11th November 2023, hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully through London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Chanting “ceasefire now” and “stop bombing children”, organisers estimated 800,000 people walked the route from Hyde Park to the American Embassy in Vauxhall.

Inflammatory rhetoric from the UK Government in the days running up to the march, particularly from the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, had branded the peaceful protestors as “hate marchers” with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak producing a statement on 3rd November complaining that the march seeking a ceasefire was scheduled to take place on Remembrance Day – a day designed to mark a ceasefire. Sunak suggested that it posed a “clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated”.

Counter protestors, from far right groups, supposedly gathered to ‘defend the cenotaph’ on Saturday, after members of the UK Government offered more solidarity to a block of stone than it did to the more than 11,000 people, including 4,500 children, who had lost their lives since 7th October. It was these far right protestors, “who broke violently through police lines, toppling over metal barricades, throwing missiles and temporarily forcing officers back as they surged towards the Cenotaph” (Guardian 11th Nov).”

Chimes outside the monastery, Stanstead Mill Stream, after dark on Sunday 10th December 2023 – by Eleanor McDowall

“17mph winds rattled these chimes so muc h that their sound rose up over the noise of the road and the nearby canal. Suspended on top of a tall metal pole, the adjoining ropes creak like an old door as gusts of wind set them in motion.”

Edith purring, Glasgow, Scotland in December 2023 – by Steve Urquhart

Santa Lucia kayak parade, Copenhagen, Denmark on 13th December 2023 – by Kara Oehler

“Paddling in the Copenhagen harbor with hundreds of people and looking up at thousands of people lining the shores singing together…”.