MUSIC & NATURE

I’ve just started reading a book which is actually written by quite a few sound & music liminaries under the loose topic of Music & Nature. It is edited by David Rotherberg and Marta Ulvaeus and is divided into four conceptual sections, along with an audio CD of examples….

So far its interesting; probably not one to read from cover to cover as the ideas and attitudes are so wide ranging that some instantly appeal while others cross the line into predominantly theoretical or whimsical… but to each their own! Heres a couple of quotes that appealed to me as I was having a flick through it:

From ‘Piano Pieces’ by Russell Sherman: “To play the piano is to consort with nature. Every mollusk, galaxy, vapor or viper, as well as the sweet incense of love’s distraction, is within the hands and grasp of the pianist. The result may be a mess or a blessing, but too often resembles a de facto hand-me-down, a vestigal imitation, a weary if wily synthetic.
Sound is the ether which sustains and infuses the universe. But not the one isolated sound, always groupings and multiples of sound. A single sound is but a vanity, a betrayl of communion and community. the presumed beauty of a single tone is rather like Helen without Troy: a narcotic with dreams…”

And from: ‘Nature, Sound Art and the Sacred’ by David Dunn: “Attentive listening to the sounds around us is one of the most venerable forms of meditative practice. It has been used to concentrate awareness on where and what we are and to quiet the incessant chatter of the mind. What we hear from other forms of life and the environment they reside in is information that is unique and essential about patterns of relationship in context. It is an experiential basis from which we can shape an understanding of what Bateson has called the sacred: the integrated fabric of mind that envelops us.”

And Rothenberg reflecting on a recording he contributed to the CD: “… to speak of anything as ‘a piece of music’ is to indulge in a convenient fiction. Music is not a score on a library shelf, its not the sound produced by a piano or an orchestra or a computer. Music is an activity, a particularly creative way of listening. The words ‘composer,’ ‘performer,’ and ‘audience’ enable us to distinguish different roles or perspectives within the context of this activity, but they must never distract us from the essential creative contribution of each participant…”

Preview the book here or at amazon, meanwhile here is the table of contents with authors listed:

Table of Contents
• Introduction: Does Nature Understand Music?

• I. Roots of Listening
• Hazrat Inyat Khan, The Music of the Spheres
• Rainer Maria Rilke, Primal Sound
• John Cage, Happy New Ears
• John Cage, Diary: Emma Lake Music Workshop 1965
• Tim Hodgkinson, An Interview with Peirce Schaeffer
• Evan Eisenberg, Deus ex Machina
• . Murray Schafer, Music and the Soundscape
• Tsai Chih Chung, The Music of the Earth

• II. Wild Echoes
• Rafi Zabor, From The Bear Comes Home
• Steve Lacy, Sax Can Moo…
• Russell Sherman, from Piano Pieces
• Jaron Lanier, Music, Nature, and Computers: A Showdown
• David Dunn, Nature, Sound Art, and the Scared
• David James Duncan, My one Conversation With Collin Walcott
• Michael Ondaatje, from Coming through Slaughter

• III. The Landscape of Sound
• Steve Erickson, from Rubicon Beach
• Claude Schryer, The Sharawadji Effect
• Pauline Oliveros, Sonic Images
• Pauline Oliveros, The Poetics of Environmental Sound
• Brian Eno, Ambient Music
• Hildegard Westerkamp, Speaking from Inside the Soundscape
• Douglas Quin, Toothwalkers
• Francisco Lopez, Blind Listening
• David Toop, from Exotica
• Robert Schneider, from Brother of Sleep

• IV. Many Natures, Many Cultures
• John Luther Adams, The Place Where You Go to Listen
• Toru Takemitsu, Nature and Music
• Steven Feld, Lift-Up-Over Sounding
• Eric Salzman, Sweet Singer of the Pine Barrens
• Bernie Krause, Where the Sounds Live
• Junichiro Tanizaki, from “A Portrait of Shunkin”

• V. The Disc of Music and Nature

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