Humanizing Nature Through Sound

The Effect of Music on Plant Growth | Dengarden

In Murray Schafer’s “The soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world”, they discuss how the sounds of the world are changing, but more importantly how that effects “every corner of man’s life”. Because of this, Bernie Krause in “The Great Animal Orchestra”, writes about his mission to recreate the sounds of nature. Travelling around the world, Krause tries to capture important sounds of many cultures, as well as their significance. Combining these samples, Krause can make “natural” soundscapes representative of many areas.

To me, I see this is as quite a powerful tool to immerse someone in nature. Hearing the sounds of a place overwhelmed by the beauty of nature can be just as influential on your thought process of the world as actually seeing it, however, it is much easier to accomplish in practice. Society has a way of normalizing our destruction of nature, as it is often beneficial to those in power to alter the public’s perception to the extent of the destruction. However, given a much more personal experience with those natural places, as well as the education on what specifically is happening to them, could turn that tide. This is where I see an interesting idea with the application of this kind of work, using it to humanize nature. And this is exactly where Krause seems to be headed.

Krause’s work reminds me of a similar project done by a group called “Sound Builders”. They use the physical leaves of plants to create sound. To do this, they pin electrodes on two sides of the leaves and then transfer the electronic outputs into sound. While the process sounds quite harmful to the plant, the electrodes are only on for a brief period of time and has no effect on the plant’s health. Sound Builders then present their work as a way to educate the public on environmental sciences, similar to how I see the application of Krause’s work impacting communities.

Sound Builder’s project:

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