Sonic Outreach Shetland

Exploring Shetland's Coastal Areas Through Sound

Sonic Outreach Shetland (SO Shetland) explores, celebrates and promotes Shetland’s coastal areas through sound with the use of audio technology and creative strategies including sound walking and deep listening. This participatory project invites people to fulfil the roles of participants, collaborators and artistic creators, offering opportunities for engagement with Shetland's coasts and waters in new exciting ways, increasing mindful engagement with the natural world, and improving awareness and sensitivity to the coastal environment.

Through sensory-rich, hands-on activities and the use of audio technology, we discover, listen in and capture the hidden world of sounds within Shetland’s coastal areas, making sounds which are unheard by the human ear, heard.


Experience in using audio equipment, or knowledge of sound is not required. Each session is guided by Renzo Spiteri, a professional sound artist, who offers information about the use of equipment, what to listen out for and best practices in field recordings.

Age : 12+


We suggest the use headphones for the best listening experience!


Behind the Scenes

8 locations

39 contributors

468 audio field recordings

These figures sum up Curious Pilgrims' first series of Sonic Outreach Shetland sessions and I was pleasantly surprised by each contributor’s collection of audio recordings. The enthusiasm and the generosity of each of the eight groups of participants is reflected in the nature of the recordings and demonstrates not only people’s listening experiences of Shetland’s coasts and waters, but also a particular level of engagement with what the surroundings had to offer, often in a very playful manner. What unfolded from each set of recordings is a balance between natural sounds gleaned from the shores of eight different parts of Shetland and humankind’s interventions in those locations though the use of found metal, wood and plastic objects.

From each session I gathered all the material recorded, went through each and every audio file and composed eight different sound pieces that reflect the conditions we were all immersed in. In designing each work, through layering of recordings and placements of sounds, I also wanted to project the creative interplay that emerged from the participants’ engagement with place and sonic events, and the treatment of each location as a field of so many inventive possibilities.

It was an immense pleasure spending time out and about with all the participants, walking listening and recording in the magical settings that Shetland’s coasts have to offer. Thank you all and I’m looking forward to sharing more time with some of you again and with new participants.

Renzo Spiteri


Participant Feedback


‘What an incredibly intimate way to explore the rich tapestry of sounds the islands have to offer…so, so many we are unable to hear without aid, or which go unnoticed as sight overwhelms sound. And what a lesson in stillness, patience and obedience. Or “obedience” rather (ob-audire, “listen to”) to the natural world…listening to its multi-layered voice, as if speaking to us directly, so that we may, at last, listen.’

Plunge In! Coasts and Waters Community Fund Story Map

Explore the 24 new community projects across Scotland that are being supported by The Plunge In! Coasts and Waters Community Fund. Click on the interactive map to discover how these projects will engage and connect people with our coasts and waters with the aim of leaving a legacy from the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020/2021.


Sonic Outreach Shetland was supported by NatureScot, through the Plunge In! The Coasts and Waters Community Fund. The fund was established by NatureScot to help community groups across Scotland celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters.

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