Under the Sun

I’m currently compiling an Über-list of definitions for “music.”  Big task, right?  Meanwhile, ponder this observation from acoustic ecologist Bernie Krause’s wonderful book The Great Animal Orchestra. Unlike the Ba’Aka’s music, Western song hasn’t been inspired by the biophony for thousands of years.  Rather, like many of our art forms, our music is self-referential–we continuously draw […]

Symphony of the Birds

This stunning “symphony” is pieced together from bird calls recorded by Jerry and Norma Stilwell. Jim Fassett then overlayed the sped-up and slowed-down calls to simulate the varied timbres of an orchestra. The work is divided into three parts–Andante e lirico, Buffo, and Misterioso–and premiered on Fassett’s Sunday afternoon CBS radio program. Messiaen would have been […]

Silence Is Golden

“I have nothing to say and I am saying it.” This is what I know about sound… for now. I’ll assume Earthlings have always thought critically about sound.  I might be giving us too much credit… Bernie Krause, the author of The Great Animal Orchestra (2012), started his career as a session guitarist for Motown recordings–he […]

The Tuning of the World

Does every musical genre boast “fathers,” “grandmothers” and “kings?” Sure, pop has its legends, classical  its masters, and funk, “the hardest working man in showbusiness,” but if the esoteric wasteland of academia follows suit, then acoustic ecology has Raymond Murray Schafer. Schafer on a soundwalk. Born in Canada in 1933, R. Murray Schafer is a man […]

Where I End And You Begin

It’s thrilling to hear an unexpected sound.  Chinese multi-instrumentalist Wang Li specializes in huffing and puffing far-out overtone magic at his audience with various jaw harps and the calabash flute. I was fortunate to see him twice this past week in two seemingly contradictory settings–first mistaking him for a throat singer at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium concert series and then […]