Sounds of the Tetons

18 Jun 2020

The Soundboard of Summer

Summer 2020

Written By: Evie Carrick | Images: Madison Webb, David Bowers, Jonathan Selkowitz, and courtesy Franz Camenzind

What are the sounds of your perfect summer? For some, it’s the near silence of nature — the soft rustle of aspen leaves, the meeting of foot and trail, or the soft flutter of a bird overhead. This may be background noise to some — but for hunters, foragers, and outdoor enthusiasts, these sounds offer clues to the natural world.

Bikers find comfort in the whoop of a fellow rider on the trail below and anglers find themselves drawn to the rhythmic whirr of a fly-fishing reel. Ranchers know the stillness of early morning and a horse’s welcoming nicker. And no matter what activities fill your day, there’s nothing like the sizzle of a grill and cracking of a cold one alongside family and friends. There are certain sounds Jackson dwellers and visitors know well. The blast of an elk bugle reverberating through the National Elk Preserve and the melancholy call of a coyote welcoming the night. Both are important parts of the Wyoming soundscape, a system of communication that means so much more than we might assume. According to biologist and coyote expert Dr. Franz Camenzind (page 30), when you hear a solo coyote howling, it’s just checking in with the rest of the pack, letting them know where he or she is. Then there are the more nuanced sounds of summer — like musician Ben Musser’s audio-visual creation “Photosymphony: A Live Plant Orchestra,” which turned the musical vibrations of plants into music (page 24), or the powerful sounds of Daniela Botur’s singing bowls passing through your body (page 26). The healing power of sound vibrations have been harnessed by Aboriginal Australians for years, and Daniela explains that people “feel encompassed, enveloped by the vibrations.” But it isn’t just a singing bowl that can deliver good vibrations. Music brings people together, sends sound waves over the crowd, and entices movement. Local musicians like Leif Routman (page 28) of Inland Isle, Whiskey Mornin’, and Freda Felcher grace the community with their knack for music — transporting people to a previous moment in time or instigating a full-on dance party. Whatever summer sounds you’re in search of, chances are you’ll find it here. This mountain town may be small, but when it comes to sound, the range is broad. From the calming woosh of a raft floating down the Snake to the hoot ‘n’ holler of a cowboy clinging to a bronco at the Jackson Hole Rodeo — this is the Teton soundscape.
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