Learning through sound

Today on our local public radio station KUOW I heard a great piece about Western Washington professor and scientist, Dave Engebretson. It was one of those “aha” moments about learning.Headphones
He puts together audio of music (or a collection of musical notes) derived from geologic and natural data. By listening to the patterns of the data rendered in music, we “hear” new things and experience new ways about learning about geology in ways we might never expect. This is an amazing example of finding the feeling and intellectual understanding in the data.

KUOW: Sound Focus
At 2:08 p.m. – Listening to the Universe

There is music associated with ocean tides, volcanic eruptions and the cycles of the moon and planets. David Engebretson is a professor of geology at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He lost most of his sight as a child and also developed a keen ear for sound and music. We visit David at his home studio in Bellingham to find out how he uses those talents to help his students better understand the Universe by listening.

Much like my recent experiences with visuals and my learning, Engegretson awakened new understanding by channeling scientific data into a musical format. The musicality of the Puget Sound tidal wave heights over time is spell binding and informative. I want to find more audio of his work.

 “I let the force of the sun and the moon play the tune.”

Engebretson talking about the tidal work. 

MP3 here (this story is just a minute or two in from the introductions)

Creative Commons License photo credit: James Lewis..

One thought on “Learning through sound”

  1. Nancy,

    I love this data-music work just as I love your work with visuals. I have long felt that to teach my students how to write, I need them to dance their poems, make Playdough scultpures of their stories, write in images only, color the emotional arc of their essays, write sound-only essays, create multimedia narratives and play music-word games to become aware of the power of music & the musicality of language, their own rich sensory landscape, the interplay of the senses and their impact on writing and role inside the writing. They often think I’m crazy, and feel shy about doing these exercises, but they find whole new worlds, new meanings, new selves in this multivocal, multisensory work. It is rich indeed. Thanks for sharing your own explorations and discoveries–they are inspirational!


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