Wild Soundscapes: How Animals Taught Us to Dance & Sing
In this speech, Krause offers an overview of the direct connection between the biophonic voices of natural habitats and musical expression that was inspired by those acoustic manifestations.
The Sound and the Furry
As the collectively expressed voices of wild habitats are formed during each period of the day, night, or season, they coalesce into finely structured bandwidth that allows each species to be heard unimpeded by other voices. This proto-orchestra, referred to as the biophony, serves as a narrative of place – a unique signature heard nowhere else on earth.
The Voice of the Natural World
This speech explores natural soundscapes through the lens of bioacoustics demonstrating some of the dozens of fascinating narratives told from that perspective. Through biophonies, alone, the speaker explores what happens to the voice of a high Sierra forest after selective logging, the effect of human noise on a high desert frog population, the bioacoustic expression of animal life we would never imagine produces a sound signature – like anemones, ants singing, a tree singing – and the ways in which some animal life conveys emotion through modulation of its unique voice.
Since 1968, Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Biruté Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape as each establishes frequency and/or temporal bandwidth within a given habitat. His contributions helped establish the foundation of a new bioacoustic discipline: soundscape ecology.
Krause has produced over 50 natural soundscape CDs in addition to the design of interactive, nonredundant environmental sound sculptures for museums and other public spaces throughout the world. His installations can be experienced at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the California Academy of Sciences (SF), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the American Museum of Natural History (NYC), five special commissions at the World Financial Center (NYC that performed October/November 2006) and over 30 other venues in N. America and Europe. During his life as a professional studio musician, Krause earned the Pete Seeger slot in the Weavers (1963), and with his late music partner, Paul Beaver, introduced the Moog synthesizer to pop music and film. The team’s work can be heard on over 250 albums and 135 feature films released between 1967 and 1980, including Apocalypse Now, Rosemary’s Baby, Shipping News, and Castaway.
Krause, who holds a PhD in Creative Arts with an internship in Bioacoustics,was a key figure in implementing natural soundscapes as a resource for the U. S. National Park Service. In 2006, under the auspices of US Fish & Wildlife, the Calgary Zoo, Google, Stanford, Harvard Universities, the University of Utah, and several other institutions, he led three teams to capture the first natural soundscape examples ever recorded in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Krause has served as an adjunct professor on the graduate faculty of Purdue University.