Albert Einstein once claimed, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man,”. With this in mind, the recent decline of the honey bee is especially alarming. Luckily artists like Troels Folmann are trying to raise awareness about the true impact of the humble bumble bee. In this case, by making music from bees.
This Chris Watson Interview is a must watch for anyone interested in field recording, sound design or general innovations in sound art practice. Watson (who I have blogged about before) is arguably the world’s best field recordist and his tips and ideas are definitely worth a quick listen.
Animal Composer - Photo by Richard Levine (CCBY)
It’s been a while since I posted on Bernie Krause but I just received his autobiography from Amazon and its sparked new interest in his work. A quick perusal of the net lead me to this video I watched a few months ago and which is definitely worth a look for anybody interested in acoustic ecology (soundscape ecology as Krause calls it) and the environment in general.
Krause has a book coming out with the same title. Stay tuned for an update on that.
Two major issues inevitably arise in any discussion of the viability fo wind-farms as signifciant sources of renewable energy. The first is the issue of their aesthetic impact upon the landscape. This issue was the impetus for a recent campaign lead by ex All-Black Anton Oliver and others to halt plans for large-scale wind farms in Central Otago.
The second issue is the sonic impact of wind farms. They are notoriously loud. I wasn’t aware of how loud until I saw this video and it made me rethink my position about wind-farms.
I actually like the sight of sleek, modern windmills dotted throughout scenic landscapes. But I wouldn’t be so keen on them if I were forced to deal with this kind of noise. But then, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices somewhere if we are to make a significant switch to renewable energy sources, so where will these sacrifices come?
Another site that I’ve aleady linked to in my resources section, but which I think warants further mention, is the grand sounding Western Soundscape Project.
The site is an attempt to collect and showcase the environmental and animal sounds and soundscapes of America’s vast west. The site’s archive is claimed to host “more than 90% of the West’s bird species, all of the region’s frogs and toads, and more than 100 different types of mammals and reptiles”. It’s a comprehensive directory and one well worth checking out for anyone interested in wildlife and soundscape recording in general.
One of the enduring figures in the realm of field recording and blogs about field recording is San Francisco based blogger The Quiet American who runs the eponymous blog. In the introductory section to the site viewers are warned that the comments therein are of a highly opinionated nature. This is part of what makes the Quiet American worth visiting. The other part is the wonderful collection of field recordings and compositions that the writer has put together, many of them derived from exotic, far-flung corners of the earth. As well as being beautifully designed, the site is deep and idiosyncratic, a combination which, should you take a liking to the style, makes for many hours of engaged perusal.
A lot of the content I’ve linked to so far has dealt with the science of sound, soundscapes and the world of acoustic ecology. But there is a thriving international community of individuals who see the field recording as a kind of art. This makes sense. When choosing to record something, one makes a decisions about content, context and framing akin to those made in photography. Those who opt for sound over sight are phonographers.
Phonography.org provides a good introduction to the world of phonography. As well as profiling key phonographers (such as the brilliant, peerless, Chris Watson), the site provides links to key recordings and information about the gear necessary to make field recordings of your own. It’s a great starting point for all you would-be field recordists.