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Ting Mikyunyu

Bernie Krause
Voices of the Wild

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Voices of the Wild

‘A pioneer in the field of soundscape ecology explores the ways in which the voice of the natural world informs many subjects.’

It promises to be terribly dull, and I suppose to many - even most - people it would be. But if you are someone who is in awe of natural sounds and the environment, or are a sound engineer, or a naturalist then this could be a significant addition to your library.

“When we experience the natural soundscape of a given habitat, whether desert, riparian, tropical or temperate woodland, or the seashore, we are always faced with the question of its intrinsic significance, weighted with ethical and moral questions all subsequently tied to an expression of and reverence for life.”

Unfortunately, just as there are no longer places on this Earth untouched by humanity, so their natural soundscapes are also being corrupted - and this even before the young science of soundscape ecology has recorded and interpreted what it all means and what will happen when it is all gone. And it is going very, very fast.

Should we be surprised that a science as benign as one that records natural sounds should attract the attention of government forces, and other hostiles? Maybe not.

On another thread, I remarked that author, Bernie Krause paid tribute to Wallace Stegner as being one who touches on the natural soundscapes of his native habitats in his writing. Just ten pages on and Margaret Atwood is credited for her portrayal of a future without a natural world and its sounds.

So this small book (180pp) is Bernie Krause giving the reader a detailed explanation of what soundscape ecology is, where it came from, where it is now (as of 2015) and where it is going - and the potential for crossing over into other disciplines.

I was hoping that, since it was a book about sound, there would be a CD included. Not so, but where specific sounds are mentioned, the reader is linked to the book’s webpage at www.yalebooks.com/soundscape It is only after you have heard Krause's soundscape recording of Lincoln Meadow woodland before selective logging in June,1988 and his recording in the same place, on the same date one year later, even as the woodland appears to be untouched - that’s when you understand the importance of the work of Bernie Krause and his fellow soundscape ecologists. And its urgency.
 

Edited by Ting Mikyunyu

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Thank you for this review, Ting! It sounds like a wonderful book. It is disheartening to also note how the soundscape of cities and other human generated noises is having a negative impact on the ability of birds to locate mates and how birdsong is evolving to filter above and below the frequencies of human generated sound.

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That does sound interesting Ting - I have a couple of CD's of environmental sounds, but they are not what you would call ecologically mysterious.  Just one of the sounds of the ocean in its different phases and another of different birds in a forest setting.  They are simply sounds for enjoyment or entertainment, not delving into the more serious aspects of the book you are posting on.  However, they have a calming and peaceful effect when played.

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Thank you for this review, Ting! It sounds like a wonderful book. It is disheartening to also note how the soundscape of cities and other human generated noises is having a negative impact on the ability of birds to locate mates and how birdsong is evolving to filter above and below the frequencies of human generated sound.

 

You're right Dan, and soundscape ecology is what makes it possible to recognise these changes and interpret them. It's amazing how some other natural life forms are adapting already to all the rubbish and noise we're throwing at them. Unfortunately, they are too few.  Many, many more aren't going to make it.

 

 

That does sound interesting Ting - I have a couple of CD's of environmental sounds, but they are not what you would call ecologically mysterious.  Just one of the sounds of the ocean in its different phases and another of different birds in a forest setting.  They are simply sounds for enjoyment or entertainment, not delving into the more serious aspects of the book you are posting on.  However, they have a calming and peaceful effect when played.

 

From the human point of view, momac you've hit the spot. 'Calming', 'peaceful'. I wonder what it would be like to walk in woodland and hear - what? The sound of distant traffic, maybe? Planes overhead? Sad - but because the world wouldn't come to an end, those who should be are not taking any of this seriously.

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