Don Hill

Don Hill

BIO | brief


Don is sound artist, musician, writer, filmmaker and broadcaster.


HARMONY OF THE SQUARE (2011+) supported by funding from the Landscape Architects of Canada Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts and Edmonton Arts Council proposes to remediate unpleasant sound typical of urban environments. He recently completed an investigation of the psychoacoustic properties of carillon bells atop Edmonton’s City Hall and how specific pitches associated with each chime relate to and affect the acoustics of Winston Churchill Square, a large public gathering space in the heart of the downtown core.


As a composer, MUSIC IS MEDICINE | sonic journeys (2010) is a series of recordings that authentically reproduce the psychoacoustics of ‘special places’ in Canada. The binaural-head-microphone recordings and his crafted soundscapes are valued as a therapeutic tool in clinical medical practice; they also serve as a welcome complement to contemplative and yoga practices.


His published scientific paper on the psychoacoustics of ‘special places’ (2010) resulted in an invited lecture to a select group of sound engineers at the Technical University of Berlin (2011); Deutsche Telekom sponsored the talk.


As a professor, his University of Alberta Extension course Sacred Singing, Healing Harmonies (2008+) has been taught to clinical therapists, social service counselors, health care professionals, palliative care workers, academics, teachers, yoga instructors, artists, corporate executives, musicians and contemplatives of every sort.


Commissioned (2009) to develop an acoustic-based teaching tool for Leadership Development at the Banff Centre, Don is also co-author of an academic paper SoundInsights, which describes the new tool; it was presented at the Asia Pacific Researchers in Organization Studies (APROS) annual conference (Monterrey, Mexico, 2009).


He has also served as creative faculty and the ‘voice’ of The Leadership Lab podcasts at the Banff Centre. His counsel is part of a gathering of “leading edge thinkers from the areas of leadership, popular media and the voice and vocal arts.”


Don is an associate-researcher at the Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. He has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Sonic Patterns, Spirituality and Brain Function: The Sound Component of Neurotheology (2010) outlines his recent psychoacoustic research. Prior research at the lab resulted in the [em/I] installation in Edmonton (2008), a replica of subtle energies found at so-called sacred spots on the earth—geophysical forces that are said to facilitate contemplative practices.


His Music & Sound self-directed residency at the Banff Centre (2008) resulted in soundscape research into “psychoacoustic triggers for endogenous pharmacology (which stimulate non-ordinary states of awareness).”


Don’s Banff Centre research was complemented by a series of experimental short films The Memory Stones (2008).


He was also awarded substantial grants (2007 and 2009) from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts toward completing the [em/I], a public art installation (2007-2008).


As a sound designer, Don collaborated on several exhibitions—soundscapes of neighbourhoods in transition—installed at gallery spaces in Banff, Toronto, and Halifax; the newest will premiere at a gallery in New York City (2012).


Highlights of his television career include the CBC documentary, Haunted House, Haunted Mind (1999) which prompted an invitation to join the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at Laurentian University as an associate-researcher. Most recently (2010), he completed key research in the lab, which furthers his investigation of the affect of ritual music and acoustic environments upon the human central nervous system.


In 1995, Don made Chants Encounter | Sacred Music & Dance one hour of music television featuring the mystical world of chant and ritual overtone singing. Shot in eight locations around the planet, it has been broadcast internationally and continues to be acquired for libraries and classroom use.


Don made Music, Mountains, Magic!, a “delightful and surprising” television film of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, which won the Silver Apple prize at the 1993 National Educational Video & Film Festival (Oakland). The feature-length documentary was also given a special screening at the National Gallery of Canada in 1997 with Don, the 'artist in attendance'.


Other prize-winning television includes Bravo Alberta!, a 1990 gala awards show Don produced for the CBC staged in Calgary's Jack Singer Hall which later won the inaugural Canadian Conference of the Arts | Rogers Communications Award for television excellence.


Don co-produced ethnographic films on Tibetan traditional dress & dance (screened at The Textile Association of America annual conference fall 2006), and for the Royal Alberta Museum, a DVD presentation on Chilean arpilleras burlap appliquéd pictures of protest (2008). More recently, he made a retrospective of ethnomusicologist and musician Mike Seeger for Smithsonian/FolkwaysAlive! (2010).


As a radio host, Don presents the popular Expressions (2009+) feature on the CKUA Radio Network. He has had a long association with CKUA making documentaries and music programming of every sort.


Don is a former host of Tapestry, a national programme on CBC Radio One and Radio Canada International. The weekly hour of interviews and documentary investigates religious life and the ontology of belief.


His radio work has also been prominently featured on IDEAS, the long-running series on CBC Radio One. Several of his more popular documentaries were released as audio books, notably Visions & Voices and Stoned Straight.


Don is a ‘project guide’ and created a podcast for The Community Fusion Project, a Canada Council for the Arts supported initiative in Banff (2009). The CFP “is an arts-based, thought-provoking and arts-generating continuous work of art.”


As a features’ writer, Don is a frequent contributor to the award-winning Alberta Views magazine, for example On Sleeping Buffalo (2010) tells of a sacred mountain in the heart of Canada’s first national park, Banff. His newest ‘cover story’ for the magazine highlights Old Big (July/August 2012), a remarkable ‘medicine wheel’ in southeastern Alberta.


Don is a popular speaker. He has lectured at post-secondary institutions (for example, the University of Toronto, University of Washington at Seattle, Grant MacEwan University and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, the Banff Centre, the University of Trinidad & Tobago, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia), and the Technical University of Berlin, Germany.


He's also been engaged as a keynote speaker at major conferences, for instance, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (2010), Pathways2Sustainability (2009) in Cochrane, Alberta; a diversity of organizations find his talks of interest, for example, from The Humanist Association of Canada (2002) convention; Subtle Technologies (2002 & 2000) in Toronto, an annual gathering of scientists, software engineers and artists; to the annual conference (2005) of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees).


Don is frequently engaged as a moderator, teacher and consultant/facilitator (for example, Pathways2Sustainability (Red Deer, 2011); Calgary Real Estate Board (2010); Calgary Centre for Ethics & Human Values (2010); Art of Management International Conference (Banff Centre, 2008), Banff Mountain Film Festival (2008); Art & Science Symposium (University of Alberta, 2007); Arctic Institute of North America (2007)).


A long-standing member of the Writers Guild of Canada, Don has a long list of professional writing credits for radio, television and print. He's been twice nominated as Best Writer-Documentary.


A founding board member of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the largest and most successful of its kind in North America, Don is also an accomplished musician.



Image for Don Hill
go to top of page