- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
New Pre-recorded Audio Player
Currently out of stock.
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
This title in other editions
Other titles in the Playaway Adult Nonfiction series:
The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places (Playaway Adult Nonfiction)by Bernie Krause
Bernie Krause's The Great Animal Orchestra offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of bioacoustics, soundscapes, and the evolution of music. Krause, a naturalist and recording artist (he was formerly a member of The Weavers and is noted for his pioneering and influential work with synthesizers and in film), developed his niche hypothesis to describe the unique "sound signatures" made up of varying nonhuman animal voices that define a particular time and place (which may shift in response to other environmental factors, including man-made noise). This "biophony," as he termed it, can reflect the staggering diversity and density of biological sounds found within wild habitats and stands in contrast to both geophony ("nonbiological natural sounds" — wind, water, etc.) and anthrophony ("human-generated sound" — e.g., jet engines, automobiles, sonar, and that most abhorrent of human inventions, the leaf blower).
Much of The Great Animal Orchestra contains autobiographical elements that recall Krause's trajectory from musician to soundscape field recorder. Krause provides a history of the specialized subject, as well as some requisite background into the elements and composition of sound. Having recorded in a variety of remote regions throughout the world, he recounts a number of formative experiences that helped shape his interest in and knowledge of his chosen pursuit.
In his explorations, Krause has immersed himself within multiple indigenous cultures, in part, to glean some of the collected wisdom and attitudes that inform these cultures' relationships to sound and the natural world. As the human species was a relatively late development, evolutionarily speaking, they arrived in a world already rich in biological soundscapes. Krause postulates that the human inclination towards music may well have derived from observing, listening, and mimicking the abundant biophonic and geophonic sound sources that made up their habitats.
As with any recent book relating to the earthly sciences, Krause spends a fair amount of time considering the often ill effects modern humanity has wrought upon its nonhuman neighbors. Upon revisiting particular settings and locales where he had previously recorded, he finds, time and again, a marked decrease in both the diversity and density of his acoustic subjects. In two chapters, Krause considers the deleterious effects noise has had on myriad species (our own included), such as the much-publicized cases involving sonar and whales. He decries our "adversarial relationship with the natural world" and advocates for reassessing our disassociation with the planet's wild elements.
The Great Animal Orchestra is an intriguing book likely to appeal to most anyone with an interest in the sciences, nature studies, and biomusicology (specifically evolutionary musicology). While Krause's book may, at times, be a bit heavy on the autobiography and somewhat light on the science, it is, nonetheless, an easily accessible and readable addition to the sparsely populated literature on the subject. The Great Animal Orchestra ought to, at the least, encourage its readers to rethink the role sound and soundscapes have played, and continue to play, as part of our everyday lives — surrounded as we are by a veritable wealth of aural treasures, the likes of which often go entirely unheard.
What Our Readers Are Saying