Timber, an annual festival in the UK that is held within a beautiful forest invites people from all around the world to record one-minute snippets of sounds from forests near them and upload them to a ‘forest soundmap’.
Timber is an annual festival in the UK, to be held on July 2-4, 2021 this year, having been cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The festival is a collaboration between the UK’s National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus, “a social enterprise producing large scale outdoor arts events, most often in wild natural landscapes.”
Timber will aim to create a “first ever forest soundmap of the world” thanks to submissions from participants all around the world. Timber has asked people from all walks of life to record and submit sounds of the forest.
“We invite you to visit your local forest or woodland, and record for us one minute of the sounds that you hear,” the Timber website beckons. “If you already have existing recordings of forests then we’d love to hear those too.”
According to the Timber website, “The sounds form an open source library, to be used by anyone to listen to and create from. Selected artists are responding to the sounds that you gather, creating music, audio, artwork or something else incredible, to be presented at Timber 2021.”
The festival site is in England, at Feanedock, a 70 acre woodland site on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border and at the heart of the National Forest, near Ashby de la Zouch. It is located in the East Midlands region.
The festival organisers are confident that the limited number of attendees, capped at 5,000 for three days, as well as the large scale of the festival site will provide a safe environment that can be adjusted for social distancing should there be a need to do so.
Using the audio submission form, green space lovers from all around the world are encouraged to submit sounds from their neck of the woods. They are asked to upload a one minute sample, an MP3, WAV or M4A file-type, along with a photo of trees (not people) and the location of the recording, to the website.
The soundmap of all the recordings that are collected can be explored here. According to Timber, selected sounds will form the basis of new artworks by artists “responding to the sounds that are gathered, creating music, audio, artwork or something else incredible” to be presented at Timber 2021.
BBC Radio 3 presenter, broadcaster and patron of Timber Elizabeth Alker says: “It’s so exciting that people across the globe are going to be bringing the sounds of their local woods and forests to the Timber soundmap using just their phones.” She adds that “Experiencing and engaging with nature is so good for our wellbeing which is why this project and Timber Festival, as well as being fun are also really important.”
Stuart Maconie, broadcaster, writer and patron of Timber enthuses that “I’m lucky enough to live on the edge of a large woodland. So I’m very happy to be part of this excellent idea.” He goes on to refer to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that followed: “It’s been a strange spring and may be a curious summer but this soundmap will bring the vibrancy and freshness of the outside world into our ears and homes. It’s the next best thing to being there.”
Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child and friend of Timber Festival muses “We know that forests look and feel special but they also sound good too.” He says his favourite local wood, Foxlye, in Norfolk, is “currently full of blackcaps and chiffchaffs singing, and the trembling of aspen leaves sounds like the sea when the breeze gets up. I’ll be recording some forest sounds with my children for Sounds of the Forest. Recording sound helps us tune in to the harmonies of the natural world.”
As for the artists who have been commissioned to work with the soundmap as a source of inspiration, “Timber Festival invites Erland Cooper, Hinako Omori and Jason Singh to create their artistic and musical response to the project and bring it to life” in July 2021.
Chief Executive of the National Forest Company John Everitt likens the audio files of the sounds from the forest to “sound postcards” and says he is thrilled to have innovative artists create “new music inspired by nature.”
The directors of Wild Rumpus, Rowan Cannon and Sarah Bird, state “Sounds of the Forest has encouraged people to go to their local woodlands and forests and take time to stop, listen and record the harmonies of nature then upload these online.”
They are eager to believe that the project has shown “the unifying power of nature.” They conclude with “In a time where we are physically isolated the project has provided hope and connection. Forests are resilient, adaptive, multifaceted, and offered us real hope that we could find a way through the crisis.”