x # 1 Old North State Press
Old North State Press modal

A traditional letter pressing shop imbuing exquisite detail onto Carolina paperworks.

At the Old North State Press, Master Craftsman Chris Paul designs and creates incredible works of stationary art and ephemera. The shop's workhorse is a 1964 Heidelberg 10x15 "Windmill", restored from the ground up. In addition, there's a Vandercook No.3 cylinder press, 2 Monotype Thompson Sorts Casters, and a second Heidelberg 10x15. The smell of machine oil, cardstock, and genius float about as these incredible machines (and their operator) toil away to make the perfect print. The humming and ticking of the flywheels, gears, pneumatic pistons, and guides are all integral to the cadence and tonality of the workshops ambiance. With little adjustment needed, these machines are examples of old world craftsmanship meeting industrial mechanization, and they do so gloriously.

Elements of this soundscape include the master printer adjusting his machines, letterpresses, pneumatics, whirring flywheels, and a power attenuator.

x # 2 CAMP North End
CAMP North End modal

The NC bomb factory, a massive 76-acre historic industrial site that produced Model Ts to missiles.

Built in the 1920's and remaining a fully functioning manufacturing and production site for nearly 50 years, CAMP (Charlotte Area Munitions Plant) North End has had a vibrant and varied past. Now, it is being renovated and restored, giving new cadre of North Carolinian creators and builders sprawling space to explore, design, and develop (excuse the metaphor) cultural bombs of their own. Ahead of renovations, the vast empty floor of the Ford building, the intricate pipe-works of the Boiler room, and the overgrown rail yard speak calmly of a heavy industrial past. A mostly quiet soundscape, it pulls the mind to a place of contemplative compartmentalism that juxtaposes its present with its very different past.

Elements of this soundscape include still open factory floor, industrial fans, creaking pipes, nesting birds, wind in tall grass, dragonflies, and distant urban traffic.

x # 3 Carolina Raptor Center
Carolina Raptor Center modal

Igniting imaginations and inspiring engagement with the natural world through the exploration and rehabilitation of birds of prey.

Tucked away in a calm and alluring forest just off of Lake Norman, you can hear the calls and chatter of some of the most spectacular avian creatures in existence today. From sunrise to deep into the night, this raptor haven sings a dancing melody of vibrant leads supported by a swarming murmur of song birds and chirring insects. It is almost meditative to walk the grounds of the Raptor Center in the presence of such elegant, yet powerful birds. At times you can home in on a particular feathered friend as if you were eavesdropping on one of their personal conversations. While at other times you simply need to tilt your head back and just take in the entire party's conversation. Have a seat under a canopy of dogwoods, elms, and southern pines and listen to both wild and rehabilitating, discovering all that they choose to share.

Elements of this soundscape include a sprawling forest, common tree birds, all manners of insects, the very distant hum of civilization, and wide array of magnificent raptors.

x # 4 Carolina BalloonFest
Carolina BalloonFest modal

Floating delicately in the vast blue, a colorful array of balloons cast playful shadows on festival goers below.

On a sloping hillside next to the Statesville Regional Airport thousands of onlookers and avid balloonists gather to observe and, if lucky, ride in the incredibly elegant vehicles of lift that are hot air balloons. The crowd ebbs and flows while powerful bursts from the burner roar to life, fluently filling the envelope (balloon) with hot air, raising gondola and human alike, from the ground. Nestled within the ranks, the balloons fill up and come to life. Gas-powered fans, burners, flowing fabric, joyful chatter, and eager riders circle all around. It is another example of a long-held social activity maintained over the centuries by a dedicated group of folks all across the planet who rally behind the shared joy of taking flight. An extra special thanks to the incredible kindness of Mr. Mark Fritze for taking us up in his 'Freedom Flyer' and teaching all about the awesomeness that is ballooning!

Elements of this soundscape include balloon flight preparation, burners, fans, generators, low-altitude flight, ground crews, patrons, and festival announcers.

x # 5 Apple Picking at Sky Top Orchards
Apple Picking at Sky Top Orchards modal

In the cool mountain air of Autumn, amidst serpentine rows of fruit trees, windy boughs bend and apples fall.

At ridge line's crest, the Sky Top Orchard blankets the landscape with a cornucopia of apples. The smell of fruit and fermentation is ripe in the air while a storm calmly threatens in the distance. Picking apples in an orchard is a tremendously rooting experience, but doing so during a light rain, is rejuvenating. Under closely grown trees, limbs shake, leaves scatter, and dense apples fall as the wind swirls gently. Though sounds of civilization echo up the mountain side, the magnitude of the locale allows the mind to wander. It is an activity that spans millennia of the human experience and no matter how technologically advanced we may become, it still brings a sense of joy and completeness, plucking fruit from tree to acquire sustenance for oneself and others. In the Autumn, when the apples are ripe for picking, the air is cooler, and the leaves are changing their colors, it is no wonder how such a base practice of our society has become such an enjoyable past time to get lost in each year.

Elements of this soundscape include rustling trees, dropping apples, a light passing storm with wind and rain, a tractor, patrons, and respite under a makeshift orchard shelter.

x # 6 North Carolina State Fair
North Carolina State Fair modal

Truly a sound to behold, the bellowing and breathing of the fair is an interwoven tapestry of NC's sonic identity.

From popping kettle corn to candy apples, game prize bells to huge whirring machinery, pacing farm animals to agricultural demonstrations, the NC State Fair attracts absolute legions of people from all across the state. Touting a waterfall of sites and events, sights, smells, and a neutron of sounds, there is seemingly endless activity and events to observe within the veritable sea of people. Food is prepared, competitions are held, shouts of joy and excitement abound, and those classic fair jingles drift through the streets and by-ways. The constant surge and sway of the patrons is dizzying at times, but in a way that actually compliments the festivities rather well. There are always multiple activities or events happening around you as you walk and you can't possible see and do it all in a single visit. This enveloping of activity is something unique and wonderful about the Fair. By all measures, and during all of the sensory intensity that comprises the State Fair, it is a thoroughly relaxing and carefree celebration of all things NC.

Elements of this soundscape include throngs of fair-goers, the bleeps and bloops of games and stalls, hawkers, rides, agricultural shows, craftwork, and plenty of food being prepared.

x # 7 Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden modal

Across the seasons, ever-changing foliage and fauna remind us of the cyclical cadence of life and how though a year passes slowly, the environment revolves in mutual continuity.

Nestled just north of Lake Wylie, the cultivated and beautifully landscaped Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is like a salve for the soul. Serene yet complex, the diverse gardens present a treasure trove of flora, giving visitors seasonal and colorful tours within the verdure. Grassy fields and hardwood tree lines encompass the property showing the beauty of the wild and its role in the entire garden experience. Water fountains run throughout the grounds as a tip-of-the-hat to this vital life-giving element, playfully wild in its own right. Captivating and transformative, the grounds of this woven landscape provide patrons with the highest reason for pause and facilitate a perpetual stream of moments where one can truly absorb the natural world. There isn't a moment when walking throughout the garden that you feel out-of-place or somehow intrusive to the environment around you. Instead, you feel as if you are a welcomed guest, in a special nook of the outdoors where wonder and exploration are not only encouraged, they are required. No matter the season, the sounds of the garden tell a never-ending story of life and change and if you have a moment to find a bench and sit for a spell, the narrative will effortlessly unfurl before you.

Elements of this soundscape include a four-season perspective from inside the garden, with fountains, birds, insects, and light breezes through the plant life.

x # 8 Carolina Renaissance Festival
Carolina Renaissance Festival modal

A woodland celebration of show, food, costume, and imagination, with 'Huzzah!'s heard for miles around.

Each year over 200,000 patrons make a journey for what many fondly refer to as 'Ren Fest'. Weaving through field and forest, the Festival bids all to feast, shop, play, and be entranced by an incredible array of performing artists. The attire of performers and visitors alike are an eclectic mix of historical and pop-cultural, composed of a myriad of fabrics and fallalery. Opening and closing to bombastic canon fire, guests are wooed by accented hawkers, musical instruments, clanking armor, cheerful jeers, and of course, all of the 'Huzzah!'s necessary to meet your annual quota. The balance between woodland party, costumed gala, medieval carnival, theatrical performance, folk music concert, and artisan bazaar is staggering in all of the best ways. As you stroll through the open air wonderland, you will be enveloped in a sea of incredible sounds that will continuously draw your attention to something curiously intriguing. Constantly entertaining, the Fest is a thorough mix of wonder, joyfulness, playful humor, quirkiness, and the purest sense of 'fun' you can imagine. From the time you enter the musical gates to the time you depart with a rousing (but always playful) heckle, all visitors are given a chance to enjoy their day as an exceptional guest at a very unique celebration.

Elements of this soundscape include performers, musicians, shopkeepers, games, a blacksmith, a royal joust, and some very happy patrons.

x # 9 Crowders Mountain State Park
Crowders Mountain State Park modal

A steep climb to a soaring vista, stone, tree, squirrel, and hawk all compose a ridgeline chorus that welcomes and invigorates all.

There is no single path to the top of this mountain. Choose one, and win expanding views of the Carolina Piedmont as you climb. Every mountain in NC has different signature sound as you walk the summit. The differing altitudes, plants, and animals create a custom blend of sonic elements that, once acquainted, would allow the initiated to identify which mountain they are on simply by closing their eyes and taking in the ambiance. The air is clear and wind is clean, alluring all manners of hikers and naturalists. Hawks, condors, and ravens fly and perch as they wish. Hundreds of species of bushes, flowers, grasses, and trees cover the variegated rocks and hiking paths. At peak, it is a mix of serene nature and distant human endeavor from the towns below. 24 miles away, a stoic Charlotte skyline sits stark, tiny, and silent. As one climbs in altitude, noise tends to fall away, so even though tiny cars can be seen traveling on tiny roads, they leave faint remnants of their travels in the air. The delay and subtleness of society below, mixed with the fervent activity of nature immediately around you, makes mountain soundscapes unique unto themselves.

Elements of this soundscape include a mountain-side wind, scattering leaves, rustling branches, distant hikers, distant vehicles, birds, insects, and an airy expanse.

x # 10 Charlotte-Douglas Int'l Airport
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport modal

The straight expanse of field and tarmac is endlessly lapped by the thunderous roar of jet engines as they begin and end their journeys.

Nestled between two gigantic runways is a rare, small visitor's outlook where the curious can go to be sonically (and visually) awed by the effort of modern aviation. The piercing whistle and utterly colossal roar of jet turbines rocks vehicles, let alone anyone who steps outside for a better view. The utter precision of the airport joined with the enormous power of the planes that traverse it, is truly enigmatic. For most of us, interactions with airplanes are limited to the passenger perspective where we go from parking, to terminal, to gate, to plane and then once again in reverse. But sitting on the sidelines of two runways and hearing (and feeling) the full effect of those planes coming and going is illuminating to the fact that those planes are incredibly powerful and complex machines and have a lot more to them than the cozy cabins we all know and love. The energy is so great in fact, that even at the distance from where we were recording, our microphones and limiters needed extra care and attention to make sure they didn't get blown out during peak audio moments (takeoff, and immediately after landing). Night or day, chests rumble and hairs stand on end as plane after plane escapes from and soars into a deep Carolina sky.

Elements of this soundscape include night transitioning into day with a heavy breeze, a wide range of jets departing and arriving, fidgeting on-lookers, stirring grass, and the pulsing hum of distant airport terminals.

x # 11 Town Creek Indian Mound
Town Creek Indian Mound modal

Situated in the serene rural hillsides of NC, a prehistoric archeological site echoes with powerful indigenous cultural roots.

The Town Creek Indian Mound is nestled in the rolling hillsides at the southern base of Uwharrie National Forest. It was built on a flat run of land highlighted by a large earthwork mound aside one of the many elbows in the Little River. Entering the historically-rebuilt grounds you'll cross a sprawling lawn and multiple reconstructed Pee Dee buildings surrounded first by a towering perimeter of hewn timbers, and then again by a circular wood line of even taller long leaf pines. Birds share the wind in the trees while frogs croak and insects chirr and trill along the nearby bank of the River. As you listen the soundscape will transition between the open field in the middle of the site to the interior of one of the smaller thatched roof structures. Aside from the natural ambiance, the area is quiet and transcendental. The air sits lightly in the enormous open field and everything feels a little bit further away than it actually is. Without any major roads or airports nearby, the noise of human made transportation is nigh non-existent and only adds to the transformative elements of a historical soundscape. Amidst the gusty breeze that strafes the grass, one reflects on the lives of the people who originally settled here over 1,000 years ago.

Elements of this soundscape include high wind through an enclave of pines and deciduous, birds, insects, a nearby creek, some interesting frogs and toads, and the whistling of wind through an open thatched roof.

x # 12 Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve modal

Sandy woodland paths wind through towering, slender longleaf pines host a unique mix of forest flora and fauna.

Sitting just a stone's throw west of Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world, is a low rolling pine canopied and sand grass covered forest with a spaghetti-like weave of walking and hiking paths. Both on and off those paths, you'll find a constant sea of pines needles, old and new, fallen from the countless longleaf pines that make up the majority of the forest. Tiny bogs, streams, rocky outcroppings, and birds and amphibians of all types flush the nature preserve with vibrant life, and with it, sound. In an almost (almost) complimentary manner, the natural sounds of the forest are layered with the distant echoes and resonances of the nearby military base. Where one might think it would directly contradict the ambiance of a woodland hike, the low rumbles, swoons, and occasional roars feed the magnificence of the terrain. If there was going to be a soak in nature positively interrupted by the occasional air travel, this would be the place. Not to mention the incredibly fragrant aromas of pine needles in the sunshine swirling about.

Elements of this soundscape include a gentle bog rivulet, light winds through a forest of tall southern pines, squirrels, birds, tufts of grass, and the distant hum of a nearby active military base.

x # 13 Boone's Cave
Boone's Cave modal

A historic refuge and hideaway naturally rendered from the mossy rock face sitting quietly a river's edge.

Tucked in at the bottom of a rock face just at the edge of the Yadkin River, is a small rock shelter/solution cave that has been the topic of historical legend and folk stories for over 250 years. Daniel Boone and his family were known to have settled in the area in the mid-to-late 1700's and around that historical fact, the legends were woven. It was a hideout, it was a home, it was a retreat, it was a hunting perch...though many of those previously held thoughts have been doubted by historians and anthropologists. What the cave is, what it truly is, is an enclave in nature that is at the slow mercy of the earthen weight above it and the water that trickles down through it. It is the full ambiance of a much larger cave environment, in a condensed, nearly intimate . The sounds of the river hover toward the front as the mouth of the cave focuses their sound waves into the space and wraps them around you. It is a quiet, subtle, solemn soundscape, but toward the end of the recording the scene shifts from inside the cave to along the riverbank, as the rest of the forest expands gently into its fuller form.

Elements of this soundscape include the ambiance from within and emerging out of the cave, dripping water, a rushing river, a very light breeze, some very vocal birds, and the occasional rustling of leaves.

x # 14 Whitewater Falls
Whitewater Falls modal

Tearing across the Foothills Trail on the NC/SC border, mist-strewn rocky hillsides are abundant with life thanks to cascades of falling water.

Near the southwestern boarder of North Carolina is the Toxaway River. Near the end of the Toxaway is the first enormous waterfall in a series of small waterfalls and cascades, Whitewater Falls. By the time the rapids placate and the waters calm, you're in South Carolina. All along the rising ridges of those cascades are flora that are hyper verdant due to the constant mists and trickling streams that float up and pour down the rock faces and trails downstream from Whitewater Falls. The air is filled with just as much moisture and humidity as it is the roar, near and far of the endless, tumultuous rushing water. Here you will find three perspectives on the waterfall: straddling one of the rock-face streams about halfway up the ridge from the main waterfall, down in the middle of the cascades atop a massive midstream boulder, and from a perched lookout directly facing the primary fall, about 200 yards out. Transitioning between all three paints a comprehensive sonic picture of the area and hence the vibrant nature, and meditative roaring white noise that is a quintessential example of water, and power.

Elements of this soundscape include a steady mountain stream up close, standing on an island boulder amidst a roaring river, and a monstrous crashing waterfall, smattered with the occasional bird song and swaying forest foliage.

x # 15 Moore Cove Falls
Moore Cove Falls modal

At the end of a trail through a riverside ravine in Pisgah National Forest, is the adventurer's reward in sound, sight, and possibly a quick shower.

With a fairly unique geographic footprint for the state, Moore Cove Falls entices all visitors to get up close and personal with the natural falling concourse of this deep forest mountain waterfall. Behind the falls is a carved out cove that reverberates the bright, harsh splashes and crashes of the falling water. Behind the falls in in the stream in front of it renders two aural positions to really appreciate the intensity and brilliance of the high frequency storm of splattering water that dominates the area all around the falls. While other waterfalls roar and growl as they flow, this particular one is like giant shower head turned up to 11. It refreshes and rewards any hiker that makes it to the end of their trail, and without fail, puts smile on their faces as they hear it beckoning to them when they get within range. North Carolina has a great number of waterfalls through the state, but this one in particular is hyper focused, buried in the forest, on the edge of rising ravines, and could very well be considered the most intimate of them all.

Elements of this soundscape include the intense rush and splatter of an enclave waterfall across smooth stone, a river head just beyond the falling water, some light bird songs, and falling forest foliage.

x # 16 Stone Mountain Cicadas
Stone Mountain Cicadas modal

In the rolling northern piedmont, its massive gentle slope stands out against the surrounding green and makes for a unique mountain ambiance ... plus a distant cicada swarm.

Deep on the lower ridge of Stone Mountain, along the Wolf Rock hiking trail, there is a northern facing bend that catches sound from the rest of the mountain and forest range up to the Virginia boarder. At the time of the recording, all around that area was a growing swarm of cicadas (Brood IX to be exact) that though they were dozens of miles away, the sound of their chirring swells would creep up the mountain. Combined with the other insects, fauna, birds, and wind in the full towering trees this was just as much of an event as it was a location-specific soundscape. Stone Mountain's smooth granite face reflects sound more effectively than most other craggy mountains, which scatter/diffuse/absorb sound. This makes for an overall more quiet experience for hikers on the inner mountain trails as less sound is scattered around them in the deeper woods of the mountain. It was on these trails, where we posted up to listen, and were duly rewarded.

Elements of this soundscape include wind rushing through high deciduous foliage, woodpeckers and squirrels chattering in the treetops, the occasional drops and ticks of falling forest fodder, and the swell and fade of the distant brood swarm of hundreds of thousands of cicadas.

x # 17 US National Whitewater Center
US National Whitewater Center modal

Outdoor-enthusiasts abound, a constant jovial and adventurous attitude surges throughout the bike trails, zip lines, climbing walls, and of course, kayaks, rafts, and river bugs ride the roaring rapids.

Along the great Catawba River (of the People of the River) is a monolith in the outdoor activity and adventure arena of the US. The USNWC is not only the leading training center in the US for competing whitewater kayaking and rafting teams, but it is also a sprawling hub of outdoor activities for anyone with a desire to get out, stay out, and be active. The Center endeavors to expand land and natural resource protections on and around its property and is constantly working to create a haven for energetic, adventurous, safe, and educational programs for all of its patrons. Without question, there is a pulsing natural energy to the space. The constant rolling and sloshing of the serpent-like rapids course is audible from nearly anywhere on the property. The whirring and checking of bike gears, the trilling drone of the zip-line system, the pitter-patter of shoes on gravel, the clinking and panting of dogs trolling along with their families, and of course the diffused echoes of laughter and joyful cheers cannot be avoided in such a living, breathing place. And as busy as it becomes with the steady flow of visitors, there is always a sense of openness a natural coaxing to roam throughout the grounds. Even on its most crowded day, it never quite feels crowded, rather a sense of motivation and daring, pervades.

Elements of this soundscape include churning, tumbling water rapids, plunging climbers into a pool, zip liners, cheers and shouts of patrons, dogs, and the distant hum of the central water generators.

x # 18 Reed Gold Mine
Reed Gold Mine modal

Deep in the Midland woodland along the Little Meadow River, sits a historic forest mine that supplied the area with successive gold discoveries for over 100 years.

The cool damp air of the mine envelopes before you even step foot inside the subterranean tunnel. The humidity of the summer woods vanishes as you proceed into the mine and the muskiness of the wet stone, gravel, and age-old timbers clearly strikes the mind in such a way that one knows one is in a very different, very special place. After only a minute or two of walking, the shift in the soundscape is unavoidable. The mine tunnels, though long and dark, are all but silent when you stop to take a listen. When you decide to continue walking, the tiniest details of feet rumbling over gravel become apparent. As you reach the deepest area of the mine, there is a shaft known as the Morgan Shaft that rises a straight vertical 50 ft. to the forest floor above. There, you can hear the muddled noises of nature above while you sit amidst the dripping precipitates that form above your head and soak in to the earth below. Outside of the mine, a few hundred yards through the woods there is a large wooden and steel-roofed building. Occupying the majority of that building is a historically-accurate reconstructed stamping mill. As the stamping mill gears up and begins normal operation, it absolutely fills the entire sonic space of the structure. Rushing water, crushing stone, hydraulic pistons, and an enormous leather belt all culminate in a symphony of turn-of-the-century heavy machinery.

Elements of this soundscape include the still air filling the mine, trickling drips of water permeating the rock and support beams, sounds of the forest above echoing lightly through an open shaft, and the water-powered antique mechinations of a barn-sized reconstructed stamping mill.

Reed Gold Mine | Cameron Clark

x # 19 J. Douglas Galyon Depot
J Douglas Galyon Depot modal

Smack dab in the middle of the city of Greensboro sits a historic train station which has been a key stop in the North Carolina transportation circuits for nearly 100 years.

Once through the wood and brass double entryway doors, the waiting lobby of the train (and bus) station flourishes before your very ears. What may appear to be a small downtown public transportation hub from the outside, inside the matter is entirely different as the marble floors, concrete walls, stucco decorated archways and ceilings, heavy oak accents, and large bowl-shaped lighting make the whole space feel as if it grew in magnitudes in the few moments you entered the building. It is richly reverberant, carrying even the smallest of transients from one end of the massive room to another. Passengers arrive to gather their tickets, check the time, and take a seat in the large wooden back-to-back lobby benches. Even during times of lighter activity and lessened travel, the lobby still breathes with the hum of generators and the muffled, almost peaceful arrival of busses and trains outside. Up on the platform, the railyard carries in the sounds of the active urban surroundings, but also serene, quieted by the elevation and the open platforms that stretch out in both directions as far as one can see. The peacefulness is quickly washed away however as the arriving train approaches. The whistles and roars of the massive locomotive and its trailing cars completely envelope the soundscape and only relent to the slightest degree as the train comes to a stop, idles, and passengers eagerly come aboard.

Elements of this soundscape include boomy echoes in the high-domed waiting lobby, light footsteps, activity, and chatter of patrons, cycling generator of the cooling system, the open air on the train platform, and the whistles and locomotion of an approaching and arriving train.

x # 20 Uwharrie National Forest
Uwharrie National Forest modal

In the south central piedmont sits one of the 4 massive national forests of the state, one which is overflowing with endless hiking paths to allow anyone and everyone to get comfortably lost in the wilds.

The central-most mountain and national forest in the state, Uwharrie is a sprawling protected wildlife area covering over 50,000 acres across 3 different counties, making it quite difficult to define the entire area with a single qualifier or phrase. One of four national forests in the state, it hosts a plethora of fauna and flora to hike, bike, horseback ride, and stroll through year around. Each trip tends to be different, not knowing what you'll see, hear, and encounter throughout the forest. There are very few places left on the planet to find absolute quietude save for the sounds of the natural world. Uwharrie is not particularly one of those locales, but it comes very close due to the undulating topography and distance from active roadways and developments. Forest therapy, in a nutshell. Within the forest is a historic covered bridge that has recently celebrated its centennial birthday. It has a fantastic tonal resonance from the occasional car passing on the nearby roadway and the stream that runs beneath it. Mostly wood, with a splash of iron resting on a concrete foundation, this bridge may stand out in the scenery of a national forest, but it adds to the character and sonic depth of the Uwharrie soundscape.

Elements of this soundscape include distant passerines and raptors throughout the forest, high breezes blowing through the treetops, the sparse buzz and tick of insects, and the occasional falling of acorns, leaves, or twigs onto the forest floor.

x # 21 Black & White Coffee Roasters
Black & White Coffee Roasters modal

Great coffee is the product of masterful farmers and dedicated roasters, but incredible coffee is a made by relationships, exceptional focus, and creativity.

In an abounding industrial space sits a dedicated and driven coffee roasting operation that produces some of the most exquisite in North Carolina. Each member of the team keeps the metaphoric and literal machines running through all of the necessary and various processing stages that take raw beans all the way to perfectly packaged pouches of captivating caffeinated gems. The roasters are the heart of the operation as they are loaded and unloaded cyclically with fresh beans. The beans are checked periodically as the sample spoon is drawn and reloaded with a loud metallic slap. The bean release lever is pulled and a cascade of freshly roasted beans are funneled into a collection bucket to be moved onto their next phase. Sorters then work their magic loading roasted beans and processing them into their respective groups. Loading machines then take the beans and allow for them to be packaged, bag by bag, ready for the consumers. All of this, and the various other steps in the process, are all carried on and controlled by an expert team. This soundscape is a constant, churning mixture of human and machine in fluid operational harmony.

Elements of this soundscape include the churning and whirring of roasters, sorters, and vacuum air systems, the dumping and gathering of buckets of beans, the filling and sealing of coffee pouches, and the energetic chatter and banter of the B&W Coffee Team.

x # 22 Old Mill of Guilford
Old Mill of Guilford modal

Nestled just outside of Greensboro is one of the most storied and preserved structures in the state, and it continues to grind grains, each and every day, in a legacy of endlessly provisioning the community.

For all intents and purposes, there has always been fresh flour in Oak Ridge, NC. There and throughout the state, grits, flours, meals, mixes and all manners of ground grains have been provided by the Old Mill of Guildford clear back to a time when it was simply known as the Mill of Guilford. For over 240 years the structure has stood and operated in one capacity or another, continuing the legacy of stone ground grainworks for the region. The creaks, groans, hums, whirrs, and buzzes of the traditional wood and iron machinations is a sound to behold as it permeates the entire building when production is in full swing. The waterwheel turns, the grinder grinds, the sifter vibrates, and all of the interconnecting chutes pull and push grains in one form or the other throughout the system to keep it all steadily moving along. An expert team of volunteer millers are led by Annie Laura Purdue and Amy Klug as they manage the entire operation and keep both the equipment and product in peak condition. The hallmark of their work is in every bit of cereal and flour that comes out of the mill.

Elements of this soundscape include a grinder in the attic, granules channeling down a grain chute, a vigorous oscillating sifter, a powerful but slowly turning stone grinding wheel, and an enormous ever-creaky waterwheel powered by the slow rush of a piped water trough.

x # 23 Sylvan Heights Bird Park
Sylvan Heights Bird Park modal

In the North-central-eastern region of the state the stands a monolith in the avian sanctuary arena, perched in the calm countryside where over 2000 birds thrive in a glorious and cacophonous symphony of songs and brilliant feathers.

Joyful exuberance enveloped in awe and wonder. This would be an accurate description of the emotions and sensations experienced by any lover of the natural world when traversing the Sylvan Heights Bird Park. It is a secluded landscape of aviaries interwoven by winding paths, towering trees, and flowing rivulets. But the very first thing you notice, even before you can park your vehicle, is the sound. The closer you get the more glorious it becomes. Bird calls and songs that you have likely only ever heard in a documentary are reflecting through the trees and across the ground. So many in fact that at first you'll have a difficult time telling them apart. But as you move throughout the park you begin to match beaks with voices and before you know it your list of feathered friends has grown exponentially. Bird vocalizations (calls and songs) are among the most complex and diverse sounds in the animal kingdom. They are the ever-heralders, signaling to the world when it is time to get started, when it is time to wind down, when the weather is changing, when other animals are nearby, and even when the environment needs some extra attention. In North Carolina, you can't possibly find a deeper soundstage in which to partake in avian storytelling.

Elements of this soundscape include the squawks, caws, chirps, croaks, trills, hoots, cries, and tweets of birds from all of the planet, flaps and swooshes of dynamic wings, and the rise and fall of communal calling that ripples through the park.

x # 24 Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show
Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show modal

In the misty altitudes of Blowing Rock a community gathers to celebrate the equestrian arts, friendly competition, and the legacy of a NC tradition.

An event for equestrian enthusiasts throughout the state and beyond, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show is in a class unto itself. The feeling on the ground is light, welcoming, joyful, and full of support for the horses and their riders (of all ages) as they compete in a variety of traditional athletic and show events. The air is crisp and vibrant even in the late of Summer, which only adds to the impact of the delicate clopping, leaping, and landing of the competitors as they traverse any of the three open-air arenas throughout the sprawling complex. Different from a roaring major league grandstand crowd, the audience is patient and observant, clapping and cheering at the appropriate moments in order to not distract or startle the riders or their mounts. This makes it all the more intense and adds suspense to each jump that is attempted as all eyes are on the riders and most all breaths are held. It creates a very serene experience of daring feats of athleticism being performed in a naturally quiet ambiance. Several events and practices are generally happening together so the voices and calls of announcers throughout the site are often the only prominent declarations that break the hushed grandstands. With each pass-by, the power and grace of the horses is immediately drawn to the listener’s attention. Their hooves are deft, their breath guttural, and their gallop and canter professionally rhythmic. It is a site to behold and a truly intriguing experience to hear in isolation. Even though the crowd is doing their best to keep quiet, each time the rider pats their horse on the neck and encourages their determined efforts, a little part of your wants to instinctively shout congratulatory words alongside them. They word 'majesty' undoubtedly comes to mind, but the entire affair is also incredibly organic and grounded in a way that coincides with the fluidity and cadence of these incredible duos.

Elements of this soundscape include horse and rider pass-bys, horse snorts and nickers, jumps, fence knocks, a fall, announcers, signaling tones, spots of ground transportation, light crowd applause and banter, and a steady breeze with occasional rain.

x # 25 NC Granite Quarry
NC Granite Quarry modal

Roaring and smashing, churning and grinding, digging and hauling, the powerhouse that is granite retrieval creates a deep reverberant swell of industrial perfection.

Up on the edge of Mt. Airy, stowed away in the fabled land of Andy Griffith, is the world's largest open-air granite quarry. You'd not be remiss to miss it either, since in this part of the state it is much more common to look upwards for interesting sites. But in this case, you would need to be scanning the ground and backroads of the area in order to stumble across such a state superlative without knowing it was there. 'Absolutely massive', does not do this site justice as it is 60 acres large on the surface and covers a granite mother rock that is 7 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 8000 feet deep. While the sounds around the grounds are voluminous and bombastic (especially if you catch a random blasting event!), the entire area hums with the workings of the quarry. It is industrial processing at its finest and so long as the quarry is open, its roar is unmistakable. However, due to the natural contour of the site, the acoustics help to shield the nearby neighborhoods from the noise and create an opening up of the soundscape as you approach the immediate location. It comes to life in a powerful way that, when paired with the sheer visual vastness of the site, instills a manmade sense of awe any visitor. From the observation lot, you can sit and watch the whole behemoth work and if you are lucky, catch one of those rare moments when the quarry staff need to use something a bit more effective than a chisel or drill.

Elements of this soundscape include large scale rock crushers, drills, chisels, saws, bulldozers, cranes, and grinding apparatus, all woven along paths and byways nestled throughout a deep granite cistern.

x # 26 Pilot Mountain
Pilot Mountain modal

Along the curve of the pinnacle mountain trail, hawks circle, cicadas fade in and out, and the quiet mountain air hangs just above the sweeping forests and hillsides below.

Rising up out of the northern Piedmont is a topographical icon of the state, protruding like a giant stone burrow out of the edge of the Appalachian mountain. The knob, as it is referred to, is composed of quartzite monadock and is home to an abundance of Blue Ridge flora and fauna including the Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, the Carolina wren, and the pileated woodpecker. The gradually sloping landscape of the surrounding hillsides makes for an organic channel of sound to flow up and down. However, nearby human civilization seems further away that it is since you are able to fairly easily see but it only remains a blip on the auditory radar. As is common, light breezes circle the pinnacle, making it joyful to hike in the Summer months and adding the rustling of the chestnut oaks and mountain pines to the natural ambiance. Songbirds are commonly heard, as well as the flights to and from the top of the knob, which is protected, by colonies of ravens and hawks. It is a calm and quiet place. When the hikers are sparse and one can have a moment alone on the rotunda's path, there is an added level of solace and an opportunity for reflection. One of the quieter soundscapes in this collection, it stands apart as an example of a place in the state which still has occasional moments of pure, unaffected by humans, natural aura. For that experience alone, it is without question worth the trek to possibly stumble into such a special ambience.

Elements of this soundscape include insect chirring, occasional cicadas, a light breeze, and moments of bird twitters and squawks against a backdrop of distant humans mulling about in the valley below.

x # 27 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show
MCAS Cherry Point Air Show modal

Searing through the blue skies, the raw, unfiltered power of a fleet of jets, helicopters, prop planes, and even a rocket-powered fire engine will quite literally shake you to your core.

A veritable armada of mechanical avian marvels will inspire awe and completely flood your senses with the utter glory that is the adept operation of these military aircraft. Crew, staff, spectators, and even the local communities that surround the Marine Corp air station at Havelock are all entranced by the wizardry that the pilots of these speed machines conjure and control. Flybys, climbs, dives, loops, rolls, strafes, hovering suspensions, paratroopers, a myriad of other aerial acrobatics, and even some explosions (intentional and controlled of course) fill the two-day event with seemingly endless excitement. The sound of it all is vast, deep, and completely enveloping. With every rocket-like pass-by or overhead buzzing of the crowd your entire body is rocked by waves covering the entire frequency spectrum. From the ripping cackle of metal wings viscerally cutting the air, to the thunderous buffeting emanating through wide-open jet engines or thrashing helicopter blades, you never worry about being in the danger zone, but you definitely feel like your right up next to it! The nuance and complexity of the various planes and helicopters spanning a technological time-window of nearly 80 years, one truly appreciates the engineering and operational precision that goes into the powertrains and control systems of these spectacular airships. Be it light and nimble or heavy and bombastic, all form and function is represented. Cast all of this against a backdrop of a sea of cheering fans and a well-versed MC, and you have the makings of an endlessly impressive performance. Which specific aircraft did we capture in these recordings? Well, have a look at the MCAS Air Show website linked below, peruse their list of featured vehicles, and see if you can guess for yourself! But no matter what you do, be sure to bring a spot of ear protection (trust us; you're welcome).

Elements of this soundscape include high-powered jet turbines, propeller-driven engines, infantry and attack helicopters, speedy mini jets, and full impact simulated attack bombings.

x # 28 Pottery Studio (From the Ground Up)
Pottery Studio modal

Situated around the renowned Seagrove potters territory, Michael Mahan masterfully manipulates mounds of clay into delightfully functional works of unique kiln-fired art.

The studio of Michael Mahan is a series of hand-built timber structures that are chock full of tools, fixtures, molds, workbenches, and loads of clay. Tucked away on the edge of a wood, down a long gravel road, the surrounding environment is natural, green, and vibrant. The wood-fired kiln that he and his family use to complete much of their work stands as a well-worn testament to the countless handmade pieces of exceptional pottery they have created over the decades. The sounds of the studio are soft and rhythmic, likely due to the cyclical nature of working clay on a potter's wheel, but also stemming from the motions and gestures of the potter as they work the clay. There are juxtapositions as well, with the wetness of the water that is continually brought to the piece being made with the dry, raspy crackle of the fire in the kiln that slowly bakes the pieces for well over 24-hours. Complimenting these very intimate sounds is the ambient woodland landscape that surrounds the studio. Birds, crickets, the occasional dog barking in the distance, begs to remind you that you are harkening a craftwork that inherently derives its material and form from the very terra firma that supports the stool upon which the potter sits. Pondering this as you listen, brings a whole new perspective to the acoustic semblance of such discipline and space. An extra special thanks goes out to Michael, Mary, and Levi for inviting us into their world and sharing the glory of the work that they so sincerely pursue.

Elements of this soundscape include manual kick and motor-driven potter's wheels, clay mixing and shaping, wetting and forming the clay, the adding and removal of drying shelves, and a wood-fired kiln.

x # 29 Emerald Village
Emerald Village modal

A deep complex of 12 individual mines in the Eastern peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, the open Bon Ami Mine guides a waterfall driven stream straight into a cavernous subterranean grotto.

Western North Carolina is known for its mountains and within them, a host of extensive caverns, caves, and mines that span the Appalachian range north to south. Of those mines, ones that produced bountiful veins of emeralds and many other valuable minerals have solidified their place in the state's history as rich resources of earthly wonders. As time has gone by some of these mines are still active while others are used to give the public access to the underground world of NC rock hounds and a taste of the sights, smells, feelings, and so importantly, sounds of these voluminous and at the same time claustrophobic spaces. The rock is absolute in many ways, and when standing the in the open cavern of the Emerald Village Bon Ami Mine, you are very quickly acclimated to the complete density of the floor, walls, and ceiling of the entryway interior. This is a fairly unique acoustic space being that it is large and spacious, but relatively quiet, possessing a muted reverberation throughout. This is due heavily to the irregular surface of the stone and the dense gravel of the ground beneath your feet. It shatters and scatters sound waves in a way that causes them to dissipate and decay rapidly, leaving you with a momentary echo of and echo. Inside of the mine entrance is a host of early industrial machinery that was used to remove ore systematically by teams of miners, and their rust and heft are indicative of their significance to the mining industry of that era. They are not only visual, but sonic reminders of a past operation that was full of wonderful creaks and groans, plinks and plops on a backdrop of stone scree and a cascading hidden waterfall. The very stone that speaks through truncated reverberations also stands perfectly still, creating an oddly serene and contemplative place.

Elements of this soundscape include the constant splatter of a cavernous waterfall, scree, creaks, and groans within the mine opening, and the large resonance of the heavy stone and acoustic space.

x # 30 Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell modal

The highest peak East of the Mason-Dixon, this balsam-blanketed monolith is invigorating to inhale, spectacular to behold, and within its windy, moss-covered forests, deeply centering to harken.

On this peak, you can see quite a lot. As well, you can hear for miles. What's more, though sound reaches you from quite a distance, you quickly realize that amidst the gusts and blustering tree tops, the thick peat forest floor and blankets of green moss that cover so much of the balsam woods, the quietude is unmistakably dominant. Especially sitting on the edge of Winter, the combination of the wind, the cold, and the quiet forests make visiting the mountain and hiking along the Deep Gap Trail an other-worldly experience. It's a bit of forest therapy, but with an intense twist that keeps luring further and further down the trail. But if you follow, you are rewarded handsomely. Beyond the aural dynamics of the landscape, there is a constant, intense aroma of balsam pine blended with the petrichor-like scent of an actively composting forest floor. This means that though quiet, the sounds of wildlife throughout the mountain terrain stand starkly against the hushed tones of whispering trees and softly creaking limbs. Off the granite stone step path your footing almost disappears as the cushion of peat beneath it suspends you like a floor of pillows, making barely a crackle or snap of any needle or twig. These locations are becoming more and more rare across the planet, and while this isn't a place that is completely devoid of human made noise (nearly impossible these days) it approaches such a feat and gives the visitor a sonic glimpse into what the natural may sound like without the constant interference of noise that we all tend to generate whether we are aware of it or not. It may be the highest point of elevation in the Eastern United States, but it has so much more to discover, including a beautifully windswept soundscape.

Elements of this soundscape include tall, dry balsams clattering in high winds, sparse calls and chatterings of mountain birds, and a calm, thin, and broad atmosphere of a high-altitude forest.

x # 31 Historic Occaneechi Speedway Trail
Historic Occaneechi Speedway Trail modal

Tucked away in a neighborhood forest of Hillsborough, is a historic dirt track used for independent stock car races going all the way back to the beginning of NASCAR.

The entire site lends itself well to the Winter air. With the tall trees, calmly winding river, and cawing birds of prey, guests are treated to a bit of woodland serenity that stems from a raucous and rowdy past. In 1948, NASCAR officially came into being, and with it, a slew of raceways across the state were opened. One of those was a converted horse track adjacent to local farmland where history was doubly made when "the first lady of racing", Lousie Smith, gained attention and fame for her energy and driving prowess. During its 20-year stretch, this forest-enclosed, river-wrapped dirt race track was a prime spot for racing and automotive enthusiasts in the Central Piedmont. Walking the track today as a protected national historic site, the echoes of those past decades are drawn up like ghosts as distant modern day traffic barrels away on Hwy 70 and I-85. When field recording, traffic is something we almost always want to avoid or eliminate from a recording if possible, but in this very specific case, it was the perfect tip-of-the-hat. The giant concrete grandstands create an additional unique sonic element to the site as they act like a huge sounding board, sending reverberations of children playing, animals chattering, and hikers trekking down and around the corridors of the track as it cuts through the dense trees. This may not only be a unique location in North Carolina, it very well could be the only place like it in the world. One may not give it much thought when strolling and gazing at the landscape, pondering its historical context, but if you close your eyes as you do so, you'll tap into a very resolved example of what makes a soundscape a soundscape.

Elements of this soundscape include blustery winds in a forest biome, a large central open space, a highly reflective concrete grandstand, various birds, guests with children walking the loop, and evocative distance traffic.

x # 32 Rockingham Dragway
Rockingham Dragway modal

Take away the large crowds, announcers, and music and you get the focused, rich, and lively ambiance of terribly powerful cars screaming down a historic arrow-straight 1/4 mile run.

Many forms of automotive racing and competition have been feverishly popular in the state of North Carolina for what is quickly approaching a century. With a couple dozen of drag strips peppered across the state, the Rockingham Dragway is both one of the largest and longest-running. And while all manner of races and vehicles find their way to this historic strip of asphalt, the modified private street cars that meet up here to go head-to-head are some of the most diverse and exciting to watch. You never know what to expect, and on a day where they are scheduled to come out for testing and trial runs, where only the staff and teams are on premises and the weather is absolutely perfect, the cars and operations of the track that really make it tick take sonic center stage. Engines bellow, roar, and scream, rubber slides and burns, and everyone holds their breath for a moment while seemingly otherwise inconspicuous Super Stock cars explode off the starting line with declaration and commitment. As each pass is completed, support staff and teams give the drivers a cheer and handful of claps for a solid run complete. The acoustics of what is a dug-out channel of asphalt and concrete makes for a very particular half-pipe tunneling environment in which all of the mechanical sounds playfully bounce around. It's not every day that you get a chance to hear the bare and raw isolation of a very powerful machine operating in peak form in an otherwise crisp and quiet atmosphere. While there are a wide variety of incredible motorsport events constantly occurring throughout the state, there isn't anything quite like the one-pointed glorious cacophony of the dragway.

Elements of this soundscape include monstrously powerful street drag vehicles on a wide open 1/4 mile strip, empty but highly reverberant aluminum and concrete grandstands, track preparation vehicles (tractor rotator) and operations, team crews and support staff cheers, and a solitary sounding flagpole.

x # 33 Carbonton Dam
Carbonton Dam modal

Abandoned long ago for its original purpose, this visual monolith on the Deep River has taken on an incredible new life as a crossroads of living history and living art.

What was something else years ago, is now something entirely different, but equally as resident and significant. The top room of this old and decayed hydroelectric dam is now a kaleidoscope of imagery and colors representing some of the newest guard of urban artistry in the area, graffiti. In a way, the site is a magnet for such artists to collectively display their talents and designs in what has become a sort of living museum for the craft. Alongside the dam's tower is the ever-active Deep River, with the whole site being a loved launch point for kayakers and canoers. Truly a destination on any NC urban explorer's checklist, the time-worn structure of the dam tower is continually getting beaten on the elements and reinvigorated by wave after wave of new visual artists. Standing the top tower room, the breeze whistles and howls as it moves through the permanently open and rusted window frames. The running river some 50-60 feet below drops into a slight rapid who's gurgling and sloshing echoes back into the room filling the space with all sorts of wonderful water sounds. If you are lucky enough to visit when an artist is at work, the added human element of spray cans firing and scuffing shoes on the loose grit across the floor only heightens the mind's awareness of the density and loftiness in the concrete perch it is suspended in. It is definitely a place to tread carefully, as there are no safety measures in place for your protection, and the tower is quite high and quite old, but if you can make the trip, you are rewarded with an incredibly special haven of sonic and visual goodness.

Elements of this soundscape include the spraying and tagging of a graffiti artist, a large brick and cement room tone, a rushing river below, and occasional nearby traffic.

x # 34 Cannon Ballers Baseball Game
Cannon Ballers baseball game modal

Within the minor league circuit, players and fans alike converge in a celebration of baseball, playful ballpark antics, and an emblematic soundscape of summertime.

Across the US, nothing quite says 'Summer' like the sights, sounds, smells and overall ambiance of a baseball game. To that end, there is a special feel to the soundscape one is treated to sitting in the crowd at a Minor League ballgame. The transients that reverberate through the stadium with every bat-on-ball thwack, ball-on-leather glove smack, and quick gravelly scuff of a base slide are almost palpable and make-up a key component of what draws the crowd to this friendly and lively atmosphere. Of course, the sounds of the game are bright and quick, leaving a good amount of space in-between for the commotion of the crowd, shouts of wandering hawkers, and the ubiquitous whirl of the organ. They may be digital these days, but the effect is still nostalgic. Sitting in the middle of the crowd, the perspective here is quite embedded and real, giving the listener a more immersive experience rather than that of a bystander off to the side of the action. The fade between the ambiance around the stadium and within the ballpark, and then back out as the game winds down, reminds one of how far the auditory energy of this event carries. The layout of the Cannon Ballers stadium and its location in downtown Kannapolis is a fantastic mix of lively and cozy. As evening descends on the game, the surrounding area quietens a bit and makes the ballgame the centerpiece of the local soundscape. With the surges and cheers of the crowd and the shout of the announcer throughout, the whole scene comes together and lets us sit back and enjoy the game.

Elements of this soundscape include and energetic announcer, digital organist, ball players, hits, catches, players warming up, and quite lively and dynamic fanfare.

x # 35 Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wright Brothers National Memorial modal

A monument that has stood on a hilltop, gazing over a wide corridor of sandy plains for nearly 100 years, the granite perch gives the eyes and ears a tremendous perspective over the encircling Outer Banks.

On by far the highest point in the area, the wind constantly whips and blows across a massive granite monument. Encircled in multiple layers first by a grassy hillside, next by a ring road for visitors to travel, followed then by a large barrier of coastal foliage (filled with chirring insects), then by the townships of Kitty Hawk and Nags Head, and finally by the ocean and the sound. Each layer is present in the soundscape of the hilltop, but the largest and most emphatic element is by far the start-up, take-off, and flight of modern bi-planes as they hum and zip around the surrounding skies. An airstrip on the West side of the monument helps to make this a common and frequent addition to the sounds of any visit to the memorial. And visit, many do. Visitors must climb the winding trails, up the hill to its granite peak, and in the Summer, this process almost always results in exasperated exclamations by those who do the work. Footsteps on rocky pathways turn into the clip-clap of shoes on smooth polished stone. All of this echoes and reflects off of the towering monument with a crisp and definitive amplification of all of the sounds around the area. While the monument is open year around, visiting in the summertime gives you the most intense and involved soundscape it can muster and is sure to leave a lasting impression as you rest against the cool granite pondering all that the Wright Brothers undertook and achieved. All of this feeds into the history and message of the memorial beautifully. Look out at the skies and see the endless distance, be courageous, have confidence in your determined endeavor, and do not let doubt waylay you from your goal.

Elements of this soundscape include whipping wind gusts, the starting, take-off, and flight of a biplane, light distant insect chirring, and the clicks and clatter of guests' footsteps on pristine granite.

x # 36 Jockey Ridge State Park
Jockey Ridge State Park modal

In a vast sandy expanse between the ocean and sound, the surrounding world quietens amongst the largest sand dunes of the Eastern seaboard.

Each year, the Rogallo Kite Festival is put on by Kitty Hawk Kites along the sweeping crests of the Jockey ridge dunes. Visitors from all over come to watch the massive kites being flown but also to fly their own alongside them. In the evening the crowds are drawn to the cooler temperatures and radiant sunsets over the sound, a panorama easily enjoyed from the top of any dune. The atmosphere is unique in that it is quieted immensely by the topography of the rolling dunes, but that just beyond them in all directions are beach traffic, boats moving across the sound, neighborhoods, and of course coastal birds and insects chirping and chirring away. Yet, all of those sounds are subdued on the dunes and light gusts of wind and skittering of sand flowing across the surface creates a more intimate scene. If you lay down directly on the ground you can experience quite literally all around your body, but for our trusty equipment the effect is highlighted by the constant miniscule pelting of grains against the protective basket around the microphone. Normally this is avoided at all costs and found to be a nuisance for a field recordist, but in this particular case it heightens the effect of the environment dramatically. And all of that without getting any sand stuck in your ears! With a distant storm brewing in the West, the crowds on the dunes lessen until you are all alone in the quiet natural ambience, with only a distant remnant of human activity echoing beyond the sandy expanse.

Elements of this soundscape include sand skittering across the dunes, coastal insects and birds, distant kite fliers and visitors, and an approaching storm.

x # 37 Albemarle Sound Wildlife
Albemarle Sound Wildlife modal

A unique topographical entity, these coastal forests boast an array of special flora and fauna in a teeming landscape between sea and sound.

Coastal forests are a special place. They bring together a lot of different elements of the natural flora and fauna of North Carolina that are found individually elsewhere across the state. Nestled between the ocean and the sound, there forests allow for a special mix of the flora and fauna to co-inhabit and promotes a setting where unique instances of both can thrive. At first listen, this might just sound like a bog or a swamp, or some synthetic blend of separately recorded environments. However, deep in the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve it is all there, in an easily-accessible neighborhood forest. Insects fly and buzz past as them feed on the plentiful mosquitoes and the variety of local birds do the same with the insects. In the distance, the rise and fall of vehicles crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge skims across the calmer waters of the sound and into the Woods, making them seem closer than they actually are. Debris from the canopy drops here and there, especially with the movement of various critters like squirrels, frogs, and snakes, several of which scurried along the ground nearby our mics. This location stands as a wonderful comparison to other forest soundscapes in this collection in that it shows how not all natural environments that may seem to be the same, actually are. The acoustic ecology of an area is dynamic and will inevitably change in response to the forces of nature, time, and human effort. In any single listening or event this may not be apparent, but as we hear more and more examples of the natural world we are familiar with, those changes begin to stand out in new and dramatic ways. The lush and diverse coastal forests of North Carolina are no exception to this.

Elements of this soundscape include coastal birds, water and forest insect chirring, amphibious chirps and croaks, distant traffic off the sound, and even a passing snake.

x # 38 Killer Bees Honey
Killer Bees Honey modal

Tucked away high up in the Western Appalachians, this rarefied mountain apiary cultivates some of the most incredible honey in the country.

Bee hives and the tireless inhabitants therein, are one of the most incredible gems of the natural world. The intricate precision, the biological processes, the architectural beauty, and of course the always anticipated byproduct coalesce to form a phenomenon that happens all across the globe every single day, sustaining our existence. Yet, we rarely if even encounter this process in a safe, direct, and digestible way. The bee hive, and consequently an apiary, and hence the land and caretakers of an apiary, are by many definitions sacred. Much like the worker bees of the hives, those caring for the apiary and surrounding terrain hold a special position in the hierarchy of the bees quintessential operations. Sean Collinsworth and Denise Altay are two such dedicated folk, building, running, and (truly) taking care of the colonies at Killer Bees Honey. The protected and resplendent wildlife surrounding the apiary runs for miles, giving the bees an incredibly bountiful array of native flora to gather from. We could beeswax poetic about the lush vegetation, stark mountain vistas, and robust pleasant aromas that are throughout the landscape, but they surely play second (possibly third, and likely fourth) fiddle to the stars of this soundscape. Amongst the hives, the hum is surreal as one can witness the endless expenditure of energy while the workers, in harmony with the queen, do what they do best. From several perspectives you can hear the pulsing of that hum, the tangential yet always intentional flights of singular bees, and their local coinhabitants as they spring, fly, and chirr about under the midday sun. And as if that auditory marvel wasn't enough to sit and simmer in, cognitively investigating the entire ambient display, the soundscape is capped off with a virtual dive into the hive itself with every nuance of what it means to be a bee, there to behold.

Elements of this soundscape include the glorious droning hum of a honey bee swarm, solo bee fly-bys, cricket springing past, mountain bird calls, and light wind and leaf rustle from the surrounding forest.

x # 39 Grandfather Mountain Mile High Bridge
Grandfather Mountain Mile High Bridge modal

High atop a crested expanse of stone and forest is a historic crossing that creaks and groans in spectacular fashion.

While there are plenty of mountains to explore across the Old North state, there are not any others with features quite like this one. The 228- foot bridge that is both famous and infamous to visitors depending on their disposition for heights, creates one of the most unique experiences in the Carolina Appalachians. As it is traversed by a constant stream of patrons, it quickly undulates to and fro, giving its passengers a bit of a ride as they make their way across. While the sensation of walking across it is one part of the experience (and of course the sweeping views of the Blue Ridge wilds don’t hurt), the squeaks, creaks, shrieks, and moans of the bridge’s steelwork are almost musical in their contributions. From underneath the bridge on a well-worn hiking path, you can hear the effects running up and down both the bridge itself and the support cables that are anchored to the granite-embedded earth. This creates a bold contrast to the quiet and serene natural environment all around the bridge and its high elevation peak. Amidst this mechanical composition, the chatter and exclamations of the park’s visitors are critical to the fullness and specificity of the soundscape. The bridge was built for people. It is encompassed by natural beauty of course and the mountain upon which it rests is full of fantastic hikes and challenging excursions, but the swinging bridge is designed to facilitate navigation and excite the senses. And from an auditory perspective, it definitely does so. Naturally occurring industrial sounds in an idyllic mountain setting? Check.

Elements of this soundscape include the flux of 10s of thousands of pieces of weathered metal, the stir of the alpine forest below it, and the laughter and occasional shriek of visiting patrons.

x # 40 Overmountain Shelter
Overmountain Shelter modal

At the state's edge sits a secluded and decrepit and beloved Appalachian Trail shelter that sports the calm of the forest behind it, and the vista of the valley to its fore.

Along the Appalachian Trail, just after you either arrive from or attempt to cross over the Tennessee border, you’ll find a ramshackle red barn-like structure dropped right on the edge of a valley slope as ferns and deciduous trees wrap around it. With the trail running right through it, it naturally invites travelers to stop for a bit and catch some shade as you descend from the nearby ridgeline. However, these days the shelter is not so safe for the wayward to do so as it is in serious need of repairs and its safety and structural integrity are in question. As the winds blow down the mountain, the catch the shelter from several angles, resulting in a droning effect emanating from inside the space. Is that a weird airplane flying nearby? Maybe some distant train rolling down the tracks? Nope, its just the shelter acting like the reed of a woodwind instrument playing its own unique tune for the forest. At this elevation, in this topography, and being so intensely remote, you will be hard-pressed to hear much of any human activity. A rare gem in the world today. The warm season birds and insects are loud and proud, which hikers would be entirely accustomed to on the AT, but the shelter attenuates them in a way that let’s you know they are still there, but gives the mind a bit of respite in the wilderness. To boot, when a bird, dragonfly, or chipmunk (current residents of the building) call, buzz, or chatter at you as the pass by the front opening of the shelter it creates an amplification and focusing of the sound wave on the sole interior doorway. Whether designed purposefully or a serendipitous fluke, the effect it very much appreciated.

Elements of this soundscape include the sporadic gusts of wind blown surging through the old timbers, insects and birds abound, passing hikers, and a woodland critter or two.

x # 41 Wilson Creek Wilderness
Wilson Creek Wilderness modal

Twenty-five miles from anything there are flowing and sprawling wilds, inviting and enticing as you enter, bringing you to center as you arrive.

There are only a handful of places anywhere in the world today that are remote enough and intentionally preserved to an extent that all sounds of human activity are absent. More common, yet still quite rare, are the places that have large periods of time where you can wander around them and avoid that same human-made sonic interruptions. Once such place in North Carolina, is the Wilson Creek Wilderness. Part of the Pisgah Game Lands, a well-watered, lushly forested landscaped of Central Piedmont rolling terrain is open and free to explore. While there are folks that live in and around the area, they are few and far between with most visitors seeming to appreciate this aspect of the deepened woods. Waterways are everywhere and they serve as a binding network connecting the entire area. Buried in a woody bush on a small island at the confluence of two of those veins of H2O, the encircling sound of rushing water precipitates the entire scene. Anywhere you happen to pull over on the exclusively gravel roads that allow access to this woodland, you are almost guaranteed to hear moving water. Be it stream or river, rapids or waterfalls, it is everywhere and adds effortlessly to the wonder of the landscape. Cicadas, grasshoppers, and dragonflies are abundant and help to compose the remaining portions of the forest’s vocal chords. If there was ever a top contender for the most immersive deep forest therapy in NC, this very well may be it. But be warned: gas up, stock up, and make sure you venture out in a vehicle that can take the rough and tumble roads or once you make you destination after a long and slow drive in, you may be a bit mentally preoccupied with how you are going to make it back out!

Elements of this soundscape include the circular subdued roar of a creek/river confluence, the interwoven chirr of nearby cicadas, calls of twilight passerines, and the sumptuous exhale of deep nature.

100 North Carolina Soundscapes logo

A compendium of ambisonic recordings from across the state


Every location on our planet has a unique sonic signature. The portion of Earth that makes up North Carolina, USA is no different, with a diverse and varied landscape of geographic and biological features, cultural identity, industrial heritage, and social engagement.

A state-wide project that aims to capture, design, and present these rich elements of the North Carolina aural environment, The 100 Soundscapes of North Carolina is a collaborative effort between Eiravaein Works and individuals, small businesses, government departments, and cultural groups working together to create immersive listening experiences of one hundred of NC's most iconic soundscapes. From fields to factories, festivals to fauna, or fanfare to the serene natural locales, we're building a comprehensive audio image of the Old North State, nestled boldly in the central Eastern coast of the United States.

Each of the 100 soundscape recordings will be an immersive 5-15 minute loopable ambisonic (3D) and optional stereo (2D) audio file. They are presented here as a binaural recording (stereo), allowing you to listen to them through headphones and feel enveloped in a designed ambient cloud of sound. This is an ongoing list of the project's recordings while it is still under production. Once completed, the entire final recordings of all 100 soundscapes will be released in a comprehensive collective format in tandem with public listening events across the state.

Read the project's Creative Brief.

Check back often for updates and stay tuned!


  Select a soundscape  
(headphones suggested)

#1

Old North
State Press


Letterpresssing
Waxhaw

#2

CAMP
North End


Historic Factory
Charlotte

#3

Carolina
Raptor Center


Bird Conservatory
Huntersville

#4

Carolina
BalloonFest


Hot Air Balloons
Statesville

#5

Sky Top
Orchards


Apple Picking
Flat Rock

#7

Daniel Stowe
Botanical Garden


Public Garden
Belmont

#8

Carolina
Renaissance Festival


Festival
Huntersville

#9

Crowders Mountain
State Park


Mountain
Kings Mountain

#11

Town Creek
Indian Mound


Pre-historic Site
Mount Gilead

#12

Weymouth Woods
Sandhills N.P.


Nature Preserve
Southern Pines

#13

Boone's
Cave


Cave
Lexington

#14

Whitewater
Falls


Waterfalls
Cashiers

#15

Moore Cove
Falls


Waterfalls
Brevard

#16

Stone Mountain
Cicadas


Mountain
Cherry Lane

#17

US National
Whitewater
Center


Recreation
Catawba River

#18

Reed
Gold Mine


Mine
Midland

#19

J Douglas
Galyon Depot


Train Station
Greensboro

#21

Black & White
Coffee Roasters


Coffee Production
Rolesville

#22

Old Mill
of Guilford


Grist Mill
Oak Ridge

#23

Sylvan Heights
Bird Park


Bird Sanctuary
Scotland Neck

#24

Blowing Rock
Charity Horse Show


Equestrian Event
Blowing Rock

#25

NC Granite
Quarry


Rock Quarry
Mt. Airy

#26

Pilot
Mountain


Mountain
Pinnacle

#27

MCAS
Cherry Point
Air Show


Air Show
Havelock

#28

From the
Ground Up
(Potter)


Pottery Studio
Robbins

#29

Emerald
Village


Mine
Little Switzerland

#30

Mount
Mitchell


Mountain
Burnsville

#31

Historic
Occaneechi
Speedway Trail


Walking Trail
Hillsborough

#32

Rockingham
Dragway


Auto Track
Rockingham

#33

Carbonton
Dam


Abandoned Dam
Sanford

#34

Cannon Ballers
Baseball Game


Sporting Event
Kannapolis

#35

Wright Brothers
National Memorial


Monument
Kill Devil Hills

#36

Jockey Ridge
State Park


Sand Dunes
Nags Head

#37

Albemarle Sound
Wildlife


Coastal Forest
Kitty Hawk

#38

Killer Bees
Honey


Apiary
Lake Toxaway

#40

Overmountain
Shelter


Hiking Trail
Newland

#41

Wilson Creek
Wilderness


Waterway
Wilson Creek

#42


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