First, the “listen.” And for that, there’s no one better in the world than Canadian composer and soundscape maven R. Murray Shafer. All his life he’s been working to have us pay attention to the sounds around us. Here he is in a short film from the NFB entitled — what else? — “Listen”:
Then, take your ears over to the British Library’s online Sounds division, where you’ll find a quantity of aural candy (and potatoes, and brussel sprouts) for your delectation. I’d recommend that you start with Touch Radio, and perhaps program #41, “The Honey Bees of Cherry Garden Farm – The act of being stung.,” one of the 70 short episodes available here. Thanks to Touch Radio, you and your imagination can go to the Galapagos, the Alcedo volcano, or catch the weird sounds of a group known as “Skull Defects” live at Fylkingen.
There’s a whole lot more in Sounds: Early spoken-word recordings, interviews of actors, writers, stage designers, et al. in the Theatre Archive Project, nature sounds — and here I’d have to recommend the eerie howl of the grey wolf as a starter — etc. etc.
Much, but not everything, is unrestricted and available to be heard here. Sadly, and scandalously, Murray Shafer’s amazing Soundscapes of Canada, produced for the CBC, cannot be heard in Canada. I’ve checked the CBC’s archives and, so far as I can tell, they’re not available there, which is something that should be corrected.