Next week is soundwalk week (try saying that five times fast), and we’re looking forward to exploring new sites as we head into a new season. The leaves have not quite turned yellow and red, but rain has traveled North causing a constant tattoo of droplets turning into rivulets, pooling on the pavement. There is a different susurrus of sound now than a mere week ago. The rain is at times so loud that it drowns out traffic, bicycles, and seagulls.
Most of the people here will probably
remember this summer fondly, with its
unprecedented warmth and number
of uninterrupted sunny days – forest fires and sunburns aside.
Those days were dry, filled with dust and seagull cries.
The season we have entered now has a different feel.
Out from storage comes rain boots, waterproof jackets and our focus shifts to keeping ourselves dry. The land around Tromsø, however, absorbs and rejoices at this deluge. The rivers are filled, the waters rising. This is the era of watery sounds, and we can't wait to take them in.
We are doing walks in Hamna Wednesday Sept 13th at 5pm, and in Tromsdalen Saturday Sept 16th at 11am and 2pm.
We are looking for people who want to join us in exploring the sounds of Tromsø.
Arctic Auditories – Hydrospheres in the High North (NFR NFR 325506, 2021-25) is a research project that aims to map soundscapes around water areas in Troms/Sápmi. We need participants who can take part in a short walk (20 min) or a sound sitting next to an area of water in Tromsø, and who take part in a group interview afterward (40-50 min). The interview is more of a conversation about what sounds you have heard, and impressions you have gained during the walk or sitting.
These interviews will be used as part of a museum exhibition in 2025 at the Polar Museum which will illuminate aspects of climate, water, and the environment through the sounds that are there. Are there any sounds that have disappeared/become amplified over time? What feelings are associated with the sounds that are there, and what knowledge is associated with these sounds? We have found people who have a connection to the sea, water, and Tromsø and asked them to create a short route that includes small stops or found a meeting place where we will focus on the acoustic and audible, and these people will guide us on this short trail.
Soundwalking as a method is probably an unknown phenomenon for many, and although it has its limitations, it is used here as a knowledge-promoting link between generations, cultures, ages, and languages. Furthermore, sound walks can focus on regional/local belonging and knowledge formation, since certain sounds signal different experiences, memories, and natural events particular to this region. At the end of the project, we want to give this methodological tool back to the local community for their own use, with the hope that it can contribute to positive and empowering changes freed from climate anxiety.
This project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and we follow strict rules for the storage and processing of collected data in collaboration with UiT, NTNU, the University of Bern, and the University of Arts London. Participants have all rights and opportunities to withdraw their participation or request the anonymization of their data at any time. We hope you’d like to contribute!
For more information, write an e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you would like to participate!
This is a meeting of two bodies of water that connects the higher peaks of Straumsbukta with the coast. The many small rivers that have thawed (at last!), journey down the mountain, along fields of dormant wildflowers, patches of grass, chicken coops, tractors, pallets, and a colony of seagulls nesting on the roof of the prayerhouse, to meet the waters of the cove.
The gentle burble in this soundbite instills, in me at least, a sense of comfort. These waters have had a long and slow journey to arrive here but this outlet is more a platform than a destination. To quote James Cameron’s latest cinematic installment, “The Way of Water has no beginning and no end. The sea is around you and in you.” To think that we can all carry this calm in us, no matter how long or arduous our journeys may be.
This weekend one of our team members traveled to Sommarøy to conduct a Walk&Talk with one of our guides. The weather was fast-changing, blustery snow one moment and sunny and quiet the next. According to the weather-report it was going to take a turn for the worse later, with powerful winds (“elinger” as they say) and blinding fog-like snowfalls. We were not the only ones making the most of the let-up; a small group of sea-bathers were standing in the shallows and on the beach, taking turns going into the water.
We began our route by the marina a few hundred meters from the hotel, and then we walked through the snow-covered heather out to the aptly named Lyngøya (Heather Island), looped back and walked along the small beach next on the opposite side of the marina.
Standing at this beach next to Lyngøya, my guide points to the landmass to our left and to the newly erected cabins and compounds. This used to be underwater, he notes, but they filled it in, thus connecting the larger island with the smaller islet.
This cove is particularly sought after for the stunning view of the sea and the smaller islets, and while it is seldom quiet on Sommarøy, there is a calmness to this natural susurrus of the wind, the waves, the birds, and the sound of our footsteps through snow and ice covered heather and sand.
My guide talks of the plans to build a small marina straight out from where we’re standing towards Buholmen. Won’t that defeat the purpose of the serenity of this location, I ask. It sure will, he replies.
Across the bridge on the mainland we watch the windmills on Kvitfjell and Raudfjell silently turn. I ask if you can hear them from here normally, but my guide shakes his head. If we were up there, it would be a different story. Up there on a windy day, even standing at a safe hundred-meter distance, you can still feel the earth vibrate, and the roar of the turbines.
A soundwalk is a short walk where you focus on the sounds of a place and how these sounds affect your experience of this place.
We’ll be walking this route again on Tuesday May 2nd. If you are in the area and you’d like to join us, please reach out! The walk is open to tourists or local residents, and while the guide is Norwegian, we can offer German and English translation.
Photos: Paula R.Mikalsen. Posted with permission of photographer and guide.