Has the landscape got a soundtrack?
When we see landscapes on TV or film there is invariably a sound track associated with it, very often it’s a grand piece of classical music, or a cinematic style score, often if the landscape is Ireland it will be traditional music. One of the most powerful invocations of Ireland as a raw and elemental landscape was the music written specially for Mise Eire with the music fitting in with the giant waves crashing on the cliffs of The Aran Islands
But when we go out to experience the landscape for real the soundtrack is very different . . . Waves crashing or gently washing on a beach. A soft rolling swoosh on a sandy beach or the gurgling rolling sound of stones in the wash. The wind adds another layer of sound either powerful in the air or rustling through grasses or trees. The wind on a mountain can be almost overpowering as it pushes and buffets you and the roar is powerful and intense. As if to emphasis the power of the surrounding elements and underline the power of the forces surrounding you as you make your way through the realm of the mountain.
I have noticed a lot of people with ear phones as they pass through wild and open spaces, is it an enhancement to listen to music in the landscape? Or is it a barrier to really being in the place? I think in general it’s a barrier; it takes you from the connection with the landscape. Being disconnected from the landscape in even this small way removes one of the elements that underline an outdoor experience. One of the sounds that define walking in the mountains for me is the Skylark, it sings a very regular song, it sings very high up and on occasions is almost impossible to find by eye. Walking with earphones and music would block this element of a walk out totally and the times spent, eyes shaded scouring the sky for the elusive little songbird would not happen. Nor would the alert that there are deer close by, when they sense the approach of a possible enemy, deer let out a short, high pitched “bic”. It took a few occurrences to discover what this sound was, but once I knew I would then be able to try locating the deer and watch as they ran and glided away into the distance, always a fantastic sight to see. Similarly the sound of a bird of prey in the air above gives the opportunity to watch them as they soar. This natural soundtrack is a part of the experience of being out in the landscape; it is also a connection to the place and a source of information.
Should we never bring music with us? No, I do love to sit for a while and look out over a fantastic view of mountain landscape or a seascape with music to enjoy at the same time, but just for a short time. All things in moderation!
What piece of music would you associate with mountain scenery? The picture below for example . . .
Blog posted by Christy Sinclair of Adventure Burren