Natural sound

great-animal-orchestraThis summer, sitting by a lake, I read this book about paying attention to sound in a natural environment. There’s the water and wind, and mainly, all the layers of creature sounds. The author is a musician and a guy who has recorded thousands of hours of natural environments. A lot of it is about how in untouched wild areas, the recordings are incredibly rich and full of variety, and these areas have shrunk so much in just the few decades of his career recording. And how much noise pollution drives out creatures from habitats. (Made me think of the over-the-top fireworks shows put on by private homes on the lake and wondering how this long session of tremendously loud explosions affected the loons and eagles that we’re so excited to glimpse…)

He mentioned that like a camera is a tool to help you learn how to see, headphones taught him how to listen. Since I read it, I’ve been more aware and more appreciative of the “biosymphony,” such as it is around here, always blended with distant car tires, leaf blowers, engines of all stripes. The birds, the timeless summer sound of cicadas.

Also last week, was out in a dark field around midnight watching for signs of the Perseid meteor shower. Thinking about how hard it is to find a little dark sky around here, and about the few times I’ve seen a truly black sky and how breathtaking that grand sweep of stars is… and about how some things that were a given of our existence for thousands of years have slipped away from us with very little notice.

Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra