Article | April 18, 2023
Earth Day Sound Bath
Blog|Eva Woo Slavitt
Earth Day 2023 is Saturday, April 22. At Grace Cathedral, we are committed to preserving the earth daily through conservation practices throughout the cathedral (yeah, we’re a bit stingy with turning up the heat here at the cathedral). Joking aside, we continue to strive towards doing better as we join an interfaith community to call attention to the urgency of our climate crisis.
Suffice it to say that more efforts must be made on all fronts. Not just for human existence. God made us all, and we share the earth equally. We are raising awareness of the importance of preserving our planet so all creatures, big and small, can thrive.
Our Sound Bath this month is in honor of Earth Day. Our unique musical partners, Fractals of Sound, have partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to integrate ocean sounds and deliver a Sound Bath that will be inspiring. I recall when Sam first approached us with this idea. We were honored that MBARI responded to his outreach, and now, we can say that our musical guest at this upcoming Sound Bath is a mammal weighing almost 200 tons!
First, let me introduce you to John Ryan, a biological oceanographer at MBARI and the principal investigator for MBARI’s Ocean Soundscape Team.
Tell us what MBARI is and what you do.
MBARI is an independent, non-profit oceanographic research center dedicated to advancing marine science and engineering to understand our changing ocean. As a biological oceanographer, I study marine life – from microscopic plankton to gigantic whales – and the complex processes that shape their lives.
John, please describe more about the MBARI recordings our Sound Bath musicians will share.
The ocean sounds we’ll hear – and sometimes feel throughout our bodies – were recorded by an underwear microphone, or hydrophone, that MBARI installed in a deep-sea location near the Monterey Canyon. Our scientific analysis of these sounds has revealed amazing aspects of the whales’ lives, like cooperative foraging and cultural transmission. Ocean sound is also a powerful way for people to connect with these magnificent life forms that dwell largely beneath the waves and beyond our senses. Samples of sounds produced by blue and humpback whales were selected from an archive that spans more than seven years of continuous recordings. The selection of sounds for this sound bath was a collaboration between the sound artist and the scientist.
Sam and John, can you give us a little insight into how Fractals of Sound will be weaving its world music with nature as our featured guest musician?
We visited John onsite at MBARI’s research center to explore its library of hydrophone recordings. Once we found the featured voices, we integrated these recordings into an ambient, experiential sound pad that Fractals of Sound will embellish and interweave throughout a live instrumental sound bath, including didgeridoo, crystal bowls, gongs, guitar, esraj, vocals, and other world instruments.
What do you hope this sound bath will deliver?
An immersive shoreline and underwater ocean experience, starting on the beach with ambient waves, sea birds, and shoreline mammals, including otters and sea lions. We’ll then move under the surface with dolphins and deeper with humpback whales. Ultimately, we’ll probe the depths with calls of the largest mammal currently on earth, blue whales. You’ll feel as much as you hear the ultra-low frequencies of the blue whale’s calls moving through the cathedral during the segment with the gongs. During the final section, we return from the deep to re-emerge on the shore, rested and filled with the echoes and vibrations of fellow earth residents…
Is there anything else you would like to share with the audience? Or What do you hope people will remember from this sound bath?
We hope each attendee will leave with an enriched respect for our fellow Earth residents and a renewed gratitude for this place we mutually call Home.
Join us this Monday, April 24, 7 – 8:30 pm (doors open at 6:30 pm). Space is still available. We offer lying-down options and a seated option. Bring something soft to lie down (yoga mats are available for rental), layers to keep warm, and something to rest your head.