Listening in the Time of COVID
Listening in the Time of COVID is an initiative of the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology as a means of reaching out to the listening community during these times of isolation and providing some income to artists who are in need. It is also a way to capture parts of an individual’s soundscape during these unique times. These are the chosen artists and their works.


First Place: PrOphecy Sun, Spiraled Mothering

Over the last decade, there has been a resurgence of interest on R. Murray Schafer's seminal ideas on sounds as a continuous field of possibility, Hildegard Westerkamp's environmental installations, Barry Truax's granular approaches to composition, and on improvisational or being with approaches that examine our impact on the environment, and how we mitigate and/or use technological artifacts to transmit our corporeal voice (Schafer 1993; Westercamp, 2002; Truax, 2002; Critchley, 2008). Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari refer to this as acts of becoming or responsiveness in relation to our environments (Deleuze et. al. 1999). While, Jean-Luc Nancy outlines this becoming in relation to the power of disembodied voices which possess a presence that moves and breathes beyond a location (Nancy, 1983). Akin to Nancy's ideas, Henri Lefebvre outlines this experience as fluid & full of lived realms of spatiality (Lefebvre 1991). Inspired by this rich history, and, in particular, mothering through the Covid-19 pandemic, and the associated social, psychological challenges, and the domestic burden that have occurred and their impact on my life, I present Spiraled Mothering (2020). This five-minute composition weaves together multi-layered anthropophonic, geophonic and biophonic sounds of my family in quarantine.



Second Place: Shumalia Hemani, Perils of Heavy Rainfall

Monsoon is typically a season to rejoice in South Asia because it cools off July's hot summer weather. In the poetry of Sufi mystic, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Monsoon is a time of abundance, and his verses are prayers of abundance for Sindh and the entire world. In the past few years, however, climate change has led to heavy floods and massive displacement of poor people in Sindh. This year, floods even reached Karachi's urban city, the biggest metropolis of Pakistan, causing the displacement of 500,000 families and more than 1.2 million people. Amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, the displaced families face an even greater risk of being affected by the region's spreading virus. The soundscape composition, "Pitfalls of Heavy Rainfall," is based on field-recordings collected from July to September 2020 in Karachi, my hometown. After teaching at Semester at Sea's Spring 2020 voyage that unexpectedly ended in South Africa, I, as a temporary resident, was denied entry to Canada and continued teaching at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension remotely. Going back to Pakistan after five years and living in Canada for more than 8-10 years as an international student, I have been experiencing displacement and reverse cultural shock alongside transformations as a result of COVID-19. Connected with friends and following the changing politics resulting from police brutality in North America, I have been juggling East and West. However, creating this composition helped me to become more vigilant to inequities in my surroundings, between the lives of mothers who are without shelters and have to protect their children from approaching winters versus those who can find some time to relax because their children are out there singing in the rain. While some children have to save their goats and livestock and find another shelter because their houses have completely drowned, some children are still fortunate to be excited by the monsoon and singing to the skies and heavy wind:
Girna hoga, Girna hoga
Baarish ko aaj girna hoga
Must Fall, Must fall,
The rain today must fall.
COVID-19 has given us a sense that "We are all in this, together," but it has also made us more vigilant to the inequities around us and the need to speak up and sing even if our voice quivers. By juxtaposing the poetry about monsoon, Sur Sarang, by Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai from Sindh that was recorded with Mehdi Rezania on Santur in 2019 with the experience of monsoon in 2020, I felt a duty not to present an idyllic image of the monsoon but gear this listening towards questions of belonging and displacement during the pandemic for people living in Canada and for Canadians abroad.

Third Place: Diego Bermudez Chamberland, Ma Fenêtre à Moi

Ma fenêtre à moi est un parcours à travers différentes prises de son de paysages sonores naturalistes enregistrés durant le confinement. à cause de la COVID-19, moi et ma copine avons dû quitter Montréal pour retourner dans les Laurentides, lieu où j'ai passé la plupart de mon enfance et adolescence. Ce retour aux sources, causé par la pandémie, m'a permis de reconnecter avec un paysage sonore qui me semblait bien lointain. La diminution de l'activité humaine ainsi que l'interdiction de se déplacer entre régions ont semblé influencer le monde naturel, car je n'avais pas souvenir d'une nature si expressive et palpable. Elle semblait avoir repris sa vraie liberté suite au changement de la nôtre.