Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Where the road winds; stop to listen

This another of the square pictures I took through the windshield on our recent trip
to Plumas County to spend Thanksgiving with our grandchildren.
There must be natural sound there, but I heard only the voice of the engine
and the tires on the road. 

When we are interested in poetry, we are naturally interested in sound
which makes up so much of the texture and appeal of poetry.
Until I read this article, I hadn't thought about this!

There is another book from the author of The Great Animal Orchestra, Bernie Krause! This one is called Voices of the Wild. It is on Amazon in both Kindle and print versions. Below is an except from an author interview published in OUTSIDE Magazine, that explains what Krause is recording and thinking about concerning natural soundscapes.

"OUTSIDE: What is soundscape ecology?

KRAUSE: Most of our writing and thinking about the natural world is visual. If it looks pretty, if it’s visually spectacular, that’s what we concentrate on. We have the descriptive language for that kind of reflection. But we have few words to describe in any great detail the sounds we hear when walking in the woods. Soundscape ecology is, in part, a response to this gap. It’s the study of the sound that comes from the landscape—urban, rural, or wild. I concentrate on the organisms in remote and still-untrammeled places. I call this the biophony: all the living organisms that vocalize in a given habitat, sounding together. There’s also natural sound in a habitat from wind in the trees and water in a stream. I refer to these nonbiological sounds as the geophony.

In your new book, you point out that these biophonies provide us with “numerous prisms through which to view our relationship to the non-human critter world.”
It’s so important that we begin to investigate these prisms and explore what they have to teach us—and soon. The natural soundscape is very fragile, and it’s disappearing very quickly.

Which sounds are the first to go?
Usually, it’s what’s called partitioning. In a healthy habitat, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals form acoustic niches, sonic territories that they establish so that their voices can be heard unimpeded by others. These partitions are critical to their survival. Their cohesion begins to break down in habitats that are stressed even in slight ways.

For example, there are logging companies that believe selective logging projects will have almost no environmental impact; you’re just taking out a tree here and there. But if you pay attention to the sounds of the living organisms inhabiting a given site, another story will often emerge. If you can get a baseline recording before the selective logging takes place, and then a follow-up recording after the first cuts have been made, you’ll likely hear some notable changes.

What impact has the drought had on the biophony around your home in California?
There was absolutely no birdsong this past spring or summer in Valley of the Moon, in Sonoma County. There were birds, and there were a few calls, but no song."

No comments:

Post a Comment