Soundscape Røst

Soundscape Røst is an ongoing sound art project, that investigates and documents the changing soundscapes of the Røst archipelago in Nordland, northern Norway, and it´s struggling and endangered pelagic seabird populations, as well as the living coastal culture. Soundscape Røst traces the sound history of a truly unique environment.

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Soundscape Røst – en lytteaften på “Det Fabelaktige Naustet”, fredag 21.desember!

En sonisk reise gjennom lydlanskaper og fortellinger fra øyriket Røst, ytterst i Lofoten!

Sted: Det Fabelaktige Naustet, Youngstorget, Oslo

Dato og tid: Fredag 21.desember, kl. 19.00

“I believe that the way to improve the world’s soundscape is quite simple. We must learn how to listen. It seems to be a habit we have forgotten. We must sensitize the ear to the miraculous world of sound around us.”
– R. Murray Schafer

“The quality of our listening can change the quality of a speaker’s or a musician’s presentation, the quality of a musical composition and yes, even the quality of the soundscape itself…”
– Hildegard Westerkamp

“I do not defend sonic matter as an aesthetic or conceptual category, but as a gate to different worlds of perception, experience and creation. Sound is a fiercely powerful medium, in the original sense.”
– Fransisco Lopez

Når var siste gangen du satte av en time til å lytte til verden rundt deg?

Elin Øyen Vister ønsker deg velkommen til en litt anderledes fredagskveld I det fabelaktige Naustet, der lytting settes i fokus. Lytting, som i bevisst bruk av hørselsorganet, kan øves på og praktiseres gjennom livet. Lytting er å høre med tilstedeværelse og konsentrasjon. Elin introduserer noen ekle tanker om forskjellige former for aktiv lytting, blant annet såkalt dyp lytting, eller deep listening som komponisten og filosofen Pauline Oliveros star bak.

Deretter inviterer hun dere med på en sonisk reise gjennom lydlanskaper og fortellinger fra øyriket Røst, ytterst i Lofoten. Øyen Visters magiske lydoptpak fra Røst blandes med fortellinger, tekster og poesi bla skrevet av:

Teodor Kittelsen, Carl Shøyen, Carl Dons, Per Fugelli, Aina Villanger og Elin Øyen Vister selv.

Det Fabelaktige Naustet

Kinokonophonography event at The British Library, Tuesday 13th of November!

One of my recent recordings from Iceland is featured:

Theme Submission: Beauty

Track title: The Common Eider choral

Time and location: Midbær freshwaterpond, Hrisey, Iceland. Mid May. 2 pm. 2012.

Type of recording: AB stereo recording of Common Eiders, recorded with a pair of omnidirectional DPA 4060´s and a Sounddevices 702 recorder. 96 KHz/24 bit.

Recordist: Elin Øyen Vister, Norway

Websites: and


Theme: For me “beauty” is truly revealed when nature again and again unfolds it´s innate musicality. The voices of the Common Eider´s rich and intricate vocalisaton is to me utterly beautiful. I am listening and being within a soundscape that plays out similar to a choral.


I am visiting Ulla Knudsen on Ytribær, a small farm in a private nature reserve on the island of Hrisey, situated in Eydafjordur, on the northernmost tip of Iceland. She is serving me tea and cake and we are talking about her interest in Common Eiders and other seabirds. Ulla Knudsen and her family have been harvesting Eider down in their privately own nature reserve for the past 60 years. Her late husband bought the land and made a reserve back in the 60´s to protect the birdlife, in particular the Common Eider. Gulls and other possible predators are not as welcome. They are hunted down and shot every May. As many as a hundred gulls, are killed to make safe the Eider haven of Hrisey. Harvesting the downs of the Eider is a tradition old as man and is still an important source of income to the Knudsen family, who all help out during the season, lasting from May to July. The down is collected when the chicks have left the nests sometime in late June, or the beginning of July.

Ullas husband made several artificial lake for the Eiders. The Eiders, as well as several other bird species seem to love breeding on the shores of these lakes. I am not really permitted to approach Midbær, the area of the lakes, as we are not to disturb the early days of the breeding season. The female Eider is lying on the eggs and if we disturb her or make her weary, she might shed some shit on the down covering the eggs. A strategy to make the nest unattractive to predators. The down, covering about 3 eggs, has been plucked off her chest by herself and is surprisingly warming. A Common Eider female will not leave her nest unless she has to, meaning if a spring snowstorms arrive, she will stay on the eggs even if she freezes to death.

I need to get close to do the recording I am after so later that evening I sneak as gently and softly as possible down to the lake. I hide a set of DPA 4060 microphones in a bush and cover my Sounddevices 702 recorder with a hunting bag, to keep it safe from rain. The microphones are covered in double windshield. First small windshields and then the coating from my

A few days later day I meet Ulla and her Norwegian cousin in the local geotermally heated swimmingpool. They are telling me how they had found a mysterious grey object inside a bush by one of their freshwater ponds. I reveal the truth telling them about my urge to record close up singing , chatter and murmuing of Eider, thus placing the windshield holding the mics in the bush.  Later on that evening I visit them again on Ytribær to play them the wonderful recordings, and they are mesmorized as myself of the beauty of being inside such a wonderous soundscape.  Thus I get away with my mischief…

Elin Øyen Vister, Tromsø, October 2012.