Arts and nature sound

Jun

19

2018

BBC Radio 4 explores birdsong

The curious cases of Rutherford and Fry is a BBC Radio program in which two scientists explore topics nominated by listeners. This fun program was initiated by a question from a listener in Cambridgeshire who asked “Winter is finally over and the birds are all singing their hearts out at dawn. What’s all the noise about? And why are some songs so elaborate?” The program covers a range of topics about birdsong. It includes a short interview with renowned birdsong researcher Don Kroodsma.

You can download the podcast here.

Mar

23

2018

Is Birdsong Music? – book & CD reviews by Michael Hannan

AWSRG member Michael Hannan has written two reviews of recent publications by zoomusicologist, composer, violinist (and fellow AWSRG member), Hollis Taylor.

Hollis’s work presents insights and responses to the songs of Pied Butcherbirds, and essentially poses the question; do birds display a sense of aesthetics? It is an intriguing question!

Click here for Michael’s review of Hollis’s book, ‘Is Birdsong Music?

and here for his other review of her accompanying double CD of compositions and field recordings; ‘Absolute Bird’.

Michael himself is a composer and performer, and had one of his pieces premiered at our recent conference by clarinetist Vicki Hallett (which can be heard here – scroll down to audio file #19)

Mar

13

2018

Is birdsong music?

Birdsong is often exquisitely beautiful, yet many people argue that it is purely functional. It certainly enables birds to attract mates, declare their territories and communicate with individuals of their own species. Musicologist and composer, Hollis Taylor, has spent many years closely studying the songs of pied butcherbirds.

Hollis Taylor

In this hour long episode of the Science Show broadcast recently on ABC Radio National, Hollis outlines the case for birdsong as music.

Feb

20

2018

Vicki Hallett attends Sonic Mmabolela

In 2017, Australian composer and musician Vicki Hallett attended the 5th Sonic Mmabolela workshop. Sonic Mmabolela is a residency for sound artists and composers with previous experience in sound recording and experimentation. It is held annually at Mmabolela Reserve in the Limpopo valley of South Africa.

Click here to hear some of the compositions from Sonic Mmabolela 2017

Live at Mabolel Rock from Vicki Hallett on Vimeo.

Jan

18

2018

Huon Peninsula Soundscape, Papua New Guinea Rainforest

The Perspectives on Listening Symposium in Brisbane this last December gave me the incentive to edit up a soundscape from our recent trip to the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea.

Leah Barclay invited myself (Andrew), Tony Baylis, David Stewart, Rod Thorn and Sue Gould to form a panel to discuss the trip and how we approached our sound recording. David, Rod and Sue were unable to attend, but Tony Baylis and I showed images and contrasted our individual field techniques and results. My impression of our one hour session was that many in the audience were particularly fascinated to hear of Tony’s bioacoustic field work.

Meanwhile, I edited this soundscape as an installation on multiple headphones so participants could immerse themselves in the rainforest during breaks in the symposium program.

The edit is compiled from seven sources, each about five minutes in duration, and representing aspects of the various altitude ranges to which we trekked and recorded.

Location sources are:
A – Hill forest (~1100m)
B – Mountain forest (Camp Astrapia) (~2000m)
C – Mountain forest (Midway Camp) (~2150m)
D – Cloudforest (Camp 13) (~2800m)
Timings are for approximate transitions.

0:00     1. Predawn insect chorus with Sooty Owl, Feline Owlet Nightjar and Papuan Boobook (B)
4:20     2. Dawn chorus with Regent Whistler, Lesser Melampitta and Ornate Fruit Doves (C)
10:10    3. Regent Whistler song (B)
16:40    4. Greater Ground Robin song (D)
21:30    5. Huon Bowerbird by its bower (D)
27:10    6. Emperor Bird of Paradise, with Cicadabird and Growling Riflebird (A)
33:40    7. Dusk cicada chorus, with Papuan Woodcock dusk flight calls (D)

I’ll be publishing extended recordings for free listening on our Listening Earth website in the near future, and will post specific links here.

Nov

22

2017

Perspectives on Listening Symposium – Brisbane

Perspectives On Listening Symposium December 2017

December 7-9, 2017
​Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Brisbane

Biosphere Soundscapes and the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University are hosting “Perspectives on Listening”, an international symposium and workshop bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers to explore the role of sound in understanding place and environmental changes.

“Perspectives on Listening” will introduce the interdisciplinary possibilities of acoustic ecology and highlight emerging fields including ecoacoustics. The event features keynotes from Steven Feld (USA) and Monica Gagliano (West Australia) in addition to panels, research presentations, live performances, immersive installations, sound walks and field trips across the rainforests of the Sunshine Coast and aquatic ecosystems in Noosa Biosphere Reserve.
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Jun

26

2017

The forgotten songs of Sydney’s birdsong

forgotten birds

Forgotten Songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening.

This delightful installation was a collaboration between ecologists and sound artists, with the AWSRG’s Fred van Gessel providing the birdsong recordings.

This artwork was commissioned in 2009 and has now been retained as a permanent installation.

More info and images

Jun

26

2017

Transforming climate change data into music

Ten years ago, old-school graphs and text-based data were the only way to communicate the growing problem of climate change. But when it comes to inspiring action, a relentless march of charts can disengage many. For Leah Borromeo, co-founder of Climate Symphony, it became clear a different approach was needed.

“Music makes us feel things,” she says. “It affects us physiologically, emotionally. Sound has always acted as a warning for us, we have this ingrained in our limbic system. This is a new way of expressing the climate change issue.”

Full article on wired.co

Climate Symphony

May

29

2017

Hollis Taylor – ‘Absolute Bird’, CD review

Review by Andrew Skeoch

Music and birdsong have been entwined in mythology and artistic practice through the ages. It would be easy to dismiss the relationship as mere romanticism, yet there remain clear comparisons between birdsong and the way humans express themselves in music.

Hollis Taylor’s ‘Absolute Bird’ is a lavishly produced, double CD set and extensive booklet. It is part musical document, part memoir of her travels, and part musing on a bird’s capacity for aesthetic sound making. But above all it is a celebration of a remarkable single species of songbird; the Australian Pied Butcherbird. Their tonally rich songs are often considered among the most musical in the birdworld – not simply by being melodic and pleasing on the ear, but by the bird’s creative exploration of repertoire.

Hollis Taylor, Absolute Bird CD

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