The narrative of Bernie Krause's book summarizes a lifetime of field, lab, and soundscape production experience into an accessible story clarifying, among other themes, how animals taught us to dance and sing. The sub-plot reveals how perceiving the world through the voice of natural soundscapes links us to an astounding array of other disciplines including, biology, natural history, environmental studies, linguistics, physics, field recording, politics, architecture, religion, medicine, philosophy, literature, resource management, and many others. And finally, the text sheds new light on the multiple constructive and destructive nets cast by anthrophony, the human-generated acoustic signatures of the soundscape, as they penetrate and affect nearly every marine and terrestrial habitat on the planet.
The emerging field of soundscape ecology (as differentiated from acoustic ecology) is central to the premise. A reanimated theme, the focus, here, highlights how biophonies and geophonies, features of the soundscape germane to an understanding of natural sound, serve as a type of Rosetta Stone exposing the secrets behind numerous riddles emanating from the beaks, mouths, wings, tails, and other signal-producing body parts of many critters performing collectively as a chorus, the same ones that humans, relying on those messages for survival and spiritual inspiration, completely understood at a time when we lived more closely connected to the wild natural. The acoustic scenarios of healthy habitats are celebrated through the poetic and proto-musical textures of its biophonic phrasing, represented by exquisite bandwidth and temporal organization, aka the niche hypothesis, an inherent yet ever-mutable font of knowledge. Nature, in the end, is the best and most prolific editor we know of, always adjusting for ultimate performance and outcomes. From an emulation and expression of this resource we have acquired the basis of nearly every organic sound and cultural utterance we generate.
The Great Animal Orchestra is available in hardcover, as an eBook (with numerous audio examples), and as an audio book (with narration and soundscapes by the author).
Since 1968, Bernie Krause has traveled worldwide recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Biruté Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape within a given habitat.
He has produced over 50 natural soundscapes.
This book discusses the dangerous relationship between a technological human society and a natural animal environment.