Musician and naturalist Bernie Krause is one of the world’s leading experts in natural sound, and he’s spent his life discovering and recording nature’s rich chorus. Searching far beyond our modern world’s honking horns and buzzing machinery, he has sought out the truly wild places that remain, where natural soundscapes exist virtually unchanged from when the earliest humans first inhabited the earth.
Krause shares fascinating insight into how deeply animals rely on their aural habitat to survive and the damaging effects of extraneous noise on the delicate balance between predator and prey. But natural soundscapes aren’t vital only to the animal kingdom; Krause explores how the myriad voices and rhythms of the natural world formed a basis from which our own musical expression emerged.
From snapping shrimp, popping viruses, and the songs of humpback whales-whose voices, if unimpeded, could circle the earth in hours-to cracking glaciers, bubbling streams, and the roar of intense storms; from melody-singing birds to the organlike drone of wind blowing over reeds, the sounds Krause has experienced and describes are like no others. And from recording jaguars at night in the Amazon rain forest to encountering mountain gorillas in Africa’s Virunga Mountains, Krause offers an intense and intensely personal narrative of the planet’s deep and connected natural sounds and rhythm.
The Great Animal Orchestra is the story of one man’s pursuit of natural music in its purest form, and an impassioned case for the conservation of one of our most overlooked natural resources-the music of the wild.
About Bernie Krause
Dr. Bernie Krause is both a musician and a naturalist. During the 1950s and ’60s, he devoted himself to music and replaced Pete Seeger as the guitarist for the Weavers. For more than forty years, Krause has traveled the world, recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. He has recorded more than fifteen thousand species and four thousand hours of wild soundscapes, over half of which no longer exist in nature, due to encroaching noise and human activity. Krause and his wife, Katherine, live in California.
“Krause’s musical expertise allows him to hear the orchestral layering of different species in each biophony, an insight that explains group vocalization as an evolutionary survival mechanism rather than a purposeful chorus of noise.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Great Animal Orchestra speaks to us of an ancient music to which so many of us are deaf. Bernie Krause is, above all, an artist. I have watched him recording the calls of chimpanzees, the singing of the insects and birds, and seen his deep love for the harmonies of nature. In this book he helps us to hear and appreciate the often hidden musicians in a new way. But he warns that these songs, an intrinsic part of the natural world and essential to human well being, are vanishing, one by one, snuffed out by human actions. Read The Great Animal Orchestra, tell your friends about it. And as Bernie urges, let us all do our part to preserve the age old sounds of nature.” (Jane Goodall)
“This fascinating book awakens our ancient ears to the source of all music. Read it, and you’ll yearn to muffle our din-and hear anew.” (author of The World Without UsAlan Weisman)
Exploring Earth tones in ‘The Great Animal Orchestra’
The Washington Post Book Review – March 23, 2012 (Excerpt)
Bernie Krause might be the Zelig of 20th-century electronic music. Run your finger down the back of LP jackets from the ’60s, squint hard, and you’re likely to find Krause’s name popping up in small print on all sorts of albums. If you were a musician who wanted a shot of techno-gimmickry from that decade’s newest toy — the Moog synthesizer — chances are, you’d have hired Krause. The Doors and the Byrds did. Or if you were a filmmaker who wanted a certain effect that only electronic gadgetry could summon, you might have put him on your payroll. Those slow-mo helicopter whumps in the opening scenes of “Apocalypse Now” were brought to you in part by Krause.
But Krause’s latest book, “The Great Animal Orchestra,” might come as a surprise. Since completing a doctorate in bio-acoustics more than three decades ago, Krause has become one of the world’s most outspoken — and unusual — environmentalists. Part anthropologist, part technician, part musician, he lugs his recording equipment around the globe, seeking to capture the vanishing soundscapes of our rapidly changing Earth. If you ever wanted to hear ants sing, beavers cry or corn grow, Krause’s your man. His book movingly conveys his anger at the unseen toll that human-generated noise has exacted on the natural world — and why this matters. [Read the full article...]
Earth Music - ‘The Great Animal Orchestra,’ by Bernie Krause
The New York Times Book Review – April 12, 2012 (Excerpt)
Instead of visiting the zoo, spend some time in the native habitat of your local symphony orchestra. You will meet the badgering bass player, whose disparaging wisecracks you cannot quite hear; the flustered, quivering flutist who just wishes the oboist would play in tune (the feeling is mutual); and many other creatures, docile and gruff. Bernie Krause’s new book, “The Great Animal Orchestra,” is not about this beastly symphony; it is about the symphony of beasts that surrounds us, a vast orchestra in the process of being silenced, perhaps even more endangered than our human animal orchestras.
Krause’s term for this symphony is “biophony”: the sound of all living organisms except us. He is a man with a calling. After a stint with the Weavers (he replaced Pete Seeger), a foray into electronic music and some not-too-surprising drug use, by “Hardyesque chance” he ended up in the Muir Woods recording nature sounds for an album. Now he is high on hippo grunts and insect drones, having spent decades recording and archiving wild soundscapes. He chronicles his life choices and epiphanies, guides us through nature’s sonic treasures, makes interesting assertions about the musicianship of animals (human and nonhuman), and begs us to pay attention. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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