Soundscape stories cover

Soundscape Stories from Finland CD
By Ros Bandt

Published by the Finnish Society for Acoustic Ecology, Soundscape Stories from Finland is a spin off from the 100 Soundscapes of Finland, a three year research project for collecting soundscapes within the geographical borders of Finland. Eighteen wonderful tracks take us immediately into discreet acoustic environments throughout Finland. Each is a world of its own to savour and appreciate for its inherent sound qualities as well as for the social meaning which it represents. The urban sounds of skateboarding in Helsinki, the motorbikes at Kuusankoski or the Lehtimato tram are contrasted with those of the natural environment. Spring birds at Kaunissaari create an unstructured ‘natural’ soundscape while the tracks of elk hunting in Suomussalmi or the reindeer roundup in Inari, clearly render man’s intervention in the environment.

Of particular historical and cultural interest to the Finns is the declaration of Christmas peace, Turku, track 5, which is a radio  recording which has been broadcast every year  on Christmas Eve at 12 o’clock since the 1930s. The text and hymn have changed little since the fourteenth century as the same ritual has been continued without interruption, the singing hymn from psalm 46 with brass accompaniment and waiting in the city square for the clock to strike 12.00. A short speech asks the citizens to respect the season and behave in a peaceful manner.

Other significant tracks mark out special times, such as the snowplough at the break of dawn or places, the silence of the snow in the forest at Puolanka. Heritage sounds are also evident in the old mechanical chaffcutter (track 9), washing carpets at the pier (track 14), and the old steamship taking off at Tampere (track 15). By way of contrast the sound of the bells at the new Lutheran church and the preparation of the weekly sauna are sounds signing contemporary life today.

Soundscape Stories from Finland is well recorded giving site- specific attention to detail relevant to the place. The near and far and panoramic movement is exciting in hearing these places for the first time. One feels in the sound as much as is possible with a CD. The disc more than achieves its aim, to communicate the Finnish soundscapes to the near and far, but also through the years, now and in the future. Listening to the disc in Australia was a treat from all these points of view, but it’s the sounds themselves which linger. One would hope that other countries follow suit with publications of this integrity in sharing their culture through quality researched soundscape recordings such as this. Highly recommended.

Available from Granum (

Dr Ros Bandt is an internationally acclaimed sound artist and honorary senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her new international anthology Hearing Places, co-edited with Michelle Duffy and Dolly MacKinnon is now available in paperback from Cambridge Scholars Publishing or