8 April 2024

Listen up! Recording expert bringing Mother Nature's 'musical' mystique to Riverina libraries

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
Join the conversation
man in forest recording sounds

Andrew Skeoch will be touring the Riverina and speaking about his sound-recording journey. Photos: Supplied.

Australia’s highly renowned sound recordist Andrew Skeoch was ”lost” not knowing what to do with his life before he set up a recording label to reignite his interest in sounds, music and birds.

The author of Deep Listening to Nature, Andrew will be touring the Riverina’s libraries in Cootamundra, Temora, Leeton and Gundagai from tomorrow (9 April).

Born and raised in the northern suburbs of Sydney, Andrew started drawing the birds in his garden and enjoyed going on bushwalks. He later became a skilled ornithological artist, worked at the Australian Museum and contributed to its scientific journals.

“I’ve always been interested in nature,” he said. ”I’d describe myself as a nature kid. I found the bush and the birds a solace, really. So I just didn’t get into the things that other kids did, sport and all that kind of stuff.

“I’ve got these memories of being on the cricket team. I’d be in the outfield, and I’d be watching the swallows sweeping over the grass and the plovers and every now and then I’d hear ‘Skeoch!’ and a ball would fly over my head.

“I was just really fascinated by learning about nature.”

READ ALSO Grassroots efforts aim to enhance drought preparedness in the Riverina

Andrew’s journey of sound recording began in 1993 when he was in outback NSW with a pair of microphones to record music and decided to record bird noises while he was there.

“I walked up on top of a ridge without any idea of what I was going to hear or what I was doing,” he said.

“I just started recording and I heard a dawn chorus of spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and it was so sublime and musical and just beautiful. I felt like the land was singing to me.”

Andrew realised that if he, as an Australian who was interested in nature, hadn’t heard the sound before, then most other people probably hadn’t either.

“And that just changed our lives completely. From that point, we set our recording label up to be a nature label. And that began the whole thing.”

With his partner, photographer Sarah Koschak, he established the independent label Listening Earth to publish immersive nature soundscape recordings. This work has taken him around the world, documenting the sounds of iconic landscapes and threatened ecosystems.

man in forest recording nature sounds

Andrew Skeoch in his element. Photo: Supplied.

For Andrew, being out in the wilderness recording the sounds of nature evokes a mixture of feelings.

“I feel safe and comfortable,” he said.

“In terms of my emotions, and my nervous system, I just feel very relaxed. But I’m also really mentally engaged because I’m fascinated with what I’m hearing.

“I’m identifying species. I’m recognising what they’re doing by listening to their sounds. I’m hearing relationships in the landscape between different species doing different things and the seasons.

“There is so much rich information going on in nature, I’m engaged with all of that.”

Deep Listening to Nature is an invitation to open our ears to the natural world.

“Just realising that as a culture we are so disconnected from nature, but especially from listening to nature. And listening tells you what’s going on. It tells you about the actual process of life around you.

“There is so much information to be gained from listening that is different to the sort of looking, analysing, measuring approach that we often take.

“When I began, I was listening for sounds that I felt were beautiful – something that other people would enjoy listening to. But it’s now matured into, yes, I can appreciate the sonic beauty, but I’m also fascinated by the behaviours. What are birds doing? How are they all working together?

“Sound is so important. Think of how important sound is to us – we communicate with it, we create music, we listen to each other. Sound is our way of connecting to each other, and it’s the same for many other animals. They use sound and vibration in so many different ways.”

READ ALSO The ATO’s version of Robodebt still being discussed – but Ombudsman lays down law

Andrew said he was looking forward to his library tour in the Riverina and sharing his experience with the locals.

“It’s not just a talk, it’s an immersive experience. I play recordings, and I’ve got a nice audio set-up. And I also show spectrograms of the sounds as you’re hearing them so you can see the structure of the sound, as well as images and videos.

“I think of myself as being the support act for the audiovisuals,” Andrew added with a laugh. “I hope people go away being able to hear the environment around them in a whole new way. They’re going to get a whole new insight into the world that they live in.”

Check out Andrew’s audio clips.

Andrew Skeoch Riverina tour dates

Cootamundra Library: Tuesday, 9 April, 10:30 am

Temora Library: Tuesday, 9 April, 2:30 pm

Leeton Library: Wednesday, 10 April, at 6:30 pm

Gundagai Library: Friday, 12 April, at 10 am.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.