Open Ambient: Maple Acoustics

Open Ambient: Maple Acoustics

Open Ambient is a soundscape project that employs ambient sound recording, data sonification, photography, GPS, and place-based experience in an exploration of the “Sugarbush” at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont. 

Over the spring, summer, and fall of 2018, I spent many hours in a 10 acre section of mixed hardwood forest that is dominated by more than 100 sugar maple trees, most of which are tapped each spring for their sap, which is then boiled in Sterling College’s sugarhouse to make maple syrup for use in the College kitchen. 

One result of my time with the maples is a 4-track playlist of sounds inspired by the relationship between humans, the trees, and climate change.

The four tracks of Open Ambient: Maple Acoustics are a sonic exploration of the potential impacts of climate change on maple syrup production in the Sterling College, VT sugarbush. Data used to drive the music include the 2% ‘typical’ sugar content in sugar maple sap; a projected 20% decrease in sap sugar content by 2100; the 1.6% sugar content projected at the end of the century; and the 40:1 ratio of sap required to syrup produced, which will increase over time given projected warming temperatures. All 4 pieces are overlaid atop ambient sounds from the sugarbush recorded over 2 sessions in summer 2018.

“Open Ambient” is borrowed from the work of philosopher Susanne Langer.

Listen to Open Ambient on SoundCloud