Nature sounds have been recognized as crucial indicators of environmental quality ever since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Traveling across the planet to every continent since the late 1960s, noted musician and soundscape ecologist Dr. Bernie Krause has recorded more than 15,000 species — marine and terrestrial.
Nature sounds offer important information about the health of today’s wild habitats and the life within them. Over half of the soundscapes Krause has recorded are now silent or can no longer be heard in their original form.
Nature’s Orchestra follows Bernie Krause on a soundscape expedition in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. To record habitats that are neither disturbed nor destroyed by human activities, nature sound recordists have to travel far. Along with animal voices, including migratory bird songs, the barking of a fox, and a grizzly’s sniff, the expedition records the melting of permafrost and other evidence of climate change.
Recording geophonic sounds of winds, melting tundra, cracking ice and flowing water are as important for this scientific expedition as recording wildlife.
Climate change affects the polar regions at more than twice the rate of change in temperate and tropical regions; and some of its effects can be heard through a comparative study of nature sounds recorded at the same places and time of year—in this case early June—in different years.
Nature’s Orchestra offers a unique marriage of science and art. Accompanying the visual beauty of America’s Serengeti is music with sounds from the wild that Krause composed for the symphony “The Great Animal Orchestra,” and also for the “Biophony” ballet.
Back home in Sonoma County, Bernie treats high school students to the music of walruses, fish and an elephant from his composition “Gorillas in the Mix,” and takes them into the creekbed near their school to listen, through microphones and headphones, to nature sounds.
Krause’s work demonstrates that the origins of music are in the world’s wild places, and that nature sounds provide an important connection to the natural world, as well as to our deepest selves.
24 Min | Closed Captions | 2016
A Stephen Most Production