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Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places

by Bernie Krause

Pub Date: March 19th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-08687-5
Publisher: Little, Brown

Krause (Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World, 2002, etc.) chronicles his experiences with “[n]atural soundscapes…the voices of whole ecological systems.”

A professional musician since 1964, the author became fascinated with the possibilities created by modular synthesizers. He moved to California where he conducted workshops in electronic music and worked as a sound engineer for film studies, providing sound background for Rosemary's BabyApocalypse Now and other films. He also recorded In a Wild Sanctuary, “the earliest musical piece to use long segments of wild sound as components of orchestration, and also the first to feature ecology as its theme.” Krause learned to use stereo headphones, microphones and a portable recording system to record natural scenes, and he often recorded scenes at varying distances, tuning to different acoustic levels and frequencies to re-create an auditory image of a scene without the aid of visual cues, which ordinarily assist our hearing by screening out certain sounds while focusing on others. In this way he created a “soundscape” of a particular location. He captured the organ-like sounds of reeds and wind in northern Oregon, and his first scientific commission, after he received a doctorate in bio-acoustics, was the sound background for an exhibit of a waterhole in Kenya. In the years since, Krause’s study of different habitats has led him to conclude that “creatures vocalize in distinctive kinship with another,” each establishing its own sound niche and creating the rhythms of “the natural world.”

An imaginative introduction to a new dimension of the natural world.