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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

The Great Animal Orchestra

Peabody Essex Museum / Salem / Art

“When I got to Africa, in 1983, I was listening late one evening to the ambient soundscape,” says Bernie Krause, an American musician and soundscape ecologist. “There were insects and there were a few birds, and there were mammals and frogs, vocalizing all at the same time. It sounded like these animals were finding their own bandwidth, niches, to vocalize. And when I got home and began to analyze it through a spectogram—a graphic illustration of sound—it was clear that this looked just like a musical score. That’s when I got the idea that maybe we have some connection to the animal world in terms of our development of sound.” With really good gear, and over a span of 50 years, Krause has recorded more than 5,000 hours of music in natural environments—the “biophony” he calls it—from the Amazon rain forest to the Yukon delta, from the oceans to the water hole. The installation The Great Animal Orchestra, in which each creature has its place, debuted at Fondation Cartier in Paris in 2016, and has finally made its way to America. Meanwhile, Krause’s new book, The Power of Tranquility in a Noisy World, has just been published by Little Brown. —L.J.

Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970, United States
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