Nature: The World’s First Source of Music

Both excerpts from The Great Animal Orchestra by Bernie Krause, and Soundscape – Tuning of the World by R. Murray Schafer exhibit similar thoughts on how the music is made up of the sounds in nature and our environment. However, Schafer expands on those thoughts and brings up the point that music is built off expressing one’s emotions.

Krause introduces sounds in nature as being the first music to have ever existed on Earth; water being the very first. He primarily discusses water and its deep roots in society from the beginning of time, to current studies on ocean life such as whale calls. I feel as though he wishes to convey that water is what links all life forms on Earth together. It is something we all have in common; we all need water in order to survive. He points out that although water is something that we all have in common, it sounds different and tells a different story anywhere you go in the world, or even the country. Water, and in turn nature, is therefore not only able to connect everyone, but provide a history to tell everyone who visits its shores.

Schafer on the other hand, although agreeing with nature being a part of music, also iterates that it can be created through emotion. He recognizes that music in Greek mythology had two sides: Athena versus Hermes. Athena creates a nomos due to her being so moved by the cries of Medusa’s sisters following her death, while Hermes constructed a lyre out of a turtle’s shell when he discovered that it could produce sound. The prior is music inspired by Athena’s feelings, and the latter utilizing logic and what was found around Hermes in nature. Schafer also points out that music is also capable of reflecting what is happening around us by mentioning that “vagaries of Richard Strauss are perfectly consistent with the waning of the […] Austro-Hungarian Empire” (Schafer 7) which bolsters his idea of emotion playing a significant part of composing music.

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