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The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places Hardcover – Mar 19 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (March 19 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316086878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316086875
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #350,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"An imaginative introduction to a new dimension of the natural world."―Kirkus Reviews

"Krause's musical expertise allows him to hear the orchestral layering of different species in each biophony, an insight that explains group vocalization as an evolutionary survival mechanism rather than a purposeful chorus of noise."―Publishers Weekly

"The Great Animal Orchestra speaks to us of an ancient music to which so many of us are deaf. Bernie Krause is, above all, an artist. I have watched him recording the calls of chimpanzees, the singing of the insects and birds, and seen his deep love for the harmonies of nature. In this book he helps us to hear and appreciate the often hidden musicians in a new way. But he warns that these songs, an intrinsic part of the natural world and essential to human well being, are vanishing, one by one, snuffed out by human actions. Read The Great Animal Orchestra, tell your friends about it. And as Bernie urges, let us all do our part to preserve the age old sounds of nature."―Jane Goodall

"Krause shows us the music of the natural world - long may his work continue!"―Pete Seeger

"Bernie Krause and his niche theory are the real thing. His originality, research, and above all basic knowledge of the sound environments in nature are impressive."―E.O. Wilson

"This fascinating book awakens our ancient ears to the source of all music. Read it, and you'll yearn to muffle our din-and hear anew."―Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us

About the Author

Dr. Bernie Krause is both a musician and a naturalist. During the 1950s and 60s, he devoted himself to music and replaced Pete Seeger as the guitarist for The Weavers. For over 40 years, Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the soundsof creatures and environments large and small. He has recorded over 15,000 species. He lives in California.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9bd05514) out of 5 stars 35 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b4fdd08) out of 5 stars A pioneering and creative fusion of music and science March 12 2012
By t.wrecks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In addition to playing with the Weavers, Bernie and his partner Paul Beaver introduced the synthesizer to rock, and they worked with the biggest names in music in the 1960s and 1970s. Bernie's previous book, In A Wild Sanctuary, explored how animals partition their environments to get their calls across without interfering with each other. This selective use of the soundscape, which must be seen as a vital part of ecology and evolution, is now called biophony (life-sound), and along with geophony (earth-sound, like water and wind), makes us more sensitive to what's going on around us. He has recorded thousands of animals, plants, and environments around the world, including many environments that have now disappeared. His work has been pioneering in giving us a whole different qualitative and quantitative approach to what we are losing ... and sounds often record what visual evidence alone cannot.

Here, Bernie asks whether the sounds and rhythms of human music could have been adopted wholesale from the animals in our environments -- in short, whether animals taught us to sing and dance. The rhythms and songs of these animals will astound you, and give you a different perspective on the inspiration for our music.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b4fdd5c) out of 5 stars A life-changing book March 30 2012
By John Joss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
All too rarely a book comes along that changes one's life and worldview by opening up new vistas of knowledge, thought and feeling. This is such a book.
Bernie Krause built upon a musical education and grounding to create a new dimension of sound. After building a career in the music business--itself a rare achievement--he turned to the sounds of nature. He deals with sound as his mentor, considering sounds from the land and ocean, evaluating the organized sound of life itself, covering what he calls `biophony' as a proto-orchestra, revealing the interior of the magnificent reality represented by the sounds of life that surround us every waking moment.
The book has many dimensions: it is a scientific treatise of exceptional scholarly quality and clarity; it is a book of global scope, since the author has worked worldwide, on land, at sea and undersea in pursuing the soundscapes of animal life; the book studies and documents the influence of human activity on ecosystems that predate humanity by hundreds of thousands of years, explaining the destructive aspects of human-derived sound, which he calls `noise'; and it is a richly anecdotal book of profound human insights, since it enables the reader to appreciate, in ways that were hitherto unavailable, the influence of sound in essentially every aspect of our lives, in places rich with mystery that most of us will never visit. Krause believes, and who are we to argue with him, that human communication over the millennia may be based on the natural sounds that preceded speech and singing--after all, animals, birds and marine life were here long before Man.
If one had to level a criticism at the work, it would be the missed opportunity of not including a CD of natural sounds, or at least offering one to readers, but this does not happen. There is precedent: Nick Mason, of Pink Floyd, is a committed automobile enthusiast who included a C D of some of his great collector cars in his book.
That minor criticism aside, Animal Orchestra is beautifully written, in lucid prose that pleases the mind. It is not a casual or easy read, because it is a voyage of discovery, replete with arcane detail that calls for close, attentive scrutiny and thought, but the time spent will be well rewarded. A spiritual tone pervades the work, compelling one to believe that knowing the author would be a profoundly uplifting experience. His clarion call for greater respect for nature resounds from every page.
This book is a great achievement. One will never hear or listen to the world the same way, ever again.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b5011b0) out of 5 stars A Soundscape is Worth a Thousand Pictures By:Mike Cumberland March 19 2012
By Cumberland Alphorn Michael C R Cumberland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Great Animal Orchestra By: Bernie Kraus
Reviewed by: Mike Cumberland

This book will change the way you listen. Krause awakens the spirit of the reader from the ennui of the everyday to the acoustic susurrations that surround us each day. As he notes, as a species, we now tend to block out our surrounding sounds with our own digital technology, but we also do this as a limbic brain protective / survival mechanism.

Krause skillfully relates the progression of his early personal experiences to his journey of amassing a collection of soundscapes worthy for generations to come. This book brings his salient technical journal and professional writings into a consummate assemblage of easily understood ideas. His explanation and use of terms such as: spectrograms, geophonies, biophonies, and anthrophonies are easy to grasp through diagrams and his easy writing style.

I was happily pleased that Mr. Krause made the reader aware of "The Sixth Extinction" concept through soundscape recordings -- but as much pleased that the point was not belaboured upon as Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter; which is down-right depressing.

One particular éclat phrase is particularly poignant, "... while a picture is worth a thousand words, a natural soundscape is worth a thousand pictures." (Krause, p. 71) This particular phrase alludes to the multi-dimensionality of life that Krause has captured in his extensive research studies. He not only clearly explains the three-dimensionality of vision, but on goes to concisely explain the fourth dimensionality of the inclusion of space and time through his spectrographs.

To a curious reader one can extrapolate that Krause is verging on translating the fourth-dimensionality of time and space: to quantum mechanics, general relativity, and string theory -- that explains all fundamental forces of nature.

This is a book that can be enjoyed as an introduction to soundscapes for the neophyte explorer, as well as the technically well acquainted in this burgeoning field. As a person who has worked with R. Murray Schafer for over thirty years learning about this field I can say it evokes more questions to be answered for future generations than it answers questions. This is as a great book should be -- it demands a response from the reader to act.

Lastly, I think of The Great Animal Orchestra's relevance for today. I need look no further than while I was in my early twenties when I was tree-planting massive clear-cuts in British Columbia. For four years I was in the areas of Terrace, Smithers, Hazleton, and Kitimat -- I reverently pause -- thinking of the existing fight to save this pristine land of paramount cultural / ecological significance and the current debacle with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project which will destroy this area. It is time for us to wake up from our soporific stupor of uncaring, greed-based, urban-life, and hear the thousands of voices. If you listen -- they are there.

Wolf Music: Tapio for Alphorn with Echoing Instruments
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b501198) out of 5 stars Kindle does not support audio content for this book July 29 2012
By Judy F. Aust - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition with Audio/Video
Despite Amazon's claim that the Kindle edition has audio content, this is not correct. Apparently, the "Kindle" edition permits the reader to access the recorded sounds embedded in the book through iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch only. The text itself is absolutely wonderful -- so wonderful that one really, really wants to hear the sounds the author so beautifully describes. Amazon should do whatever it takes to make this available to Kindle readers. Krause has been on NPR and in the NY Times discussing his recordings of nature sounds and Amazon owes it to loyal customers to make available to us what it makes available to readers who use other devices.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b501654) out of 5 stars Passport to the World of Sound March 29 2012
By Ruth Happel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the good fortune to join Bernie Krause in field recording expeditions all over the planet in the 1980's and 1990's. These trips were always both exhausting and exhilarating, as we captured endangered sounds from before dawn well into the night. We traveled together not only in the U.S., but also to Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The sounds we gathered are sadly from places now largely swallowed by development, a record of lost worlds. We both hope the recordings we have archived will help to preserve these vanishing voices.

When I met Bernie I had been studying animal behavior and ecology for years, but my interest in animal vocalizations was largely scientific. With his musical background, he opened my ears to a whole new world of sound. I have always been struck by his ability to bring together disparate threads, and this book develops a richly beautiful portrait of life's orchestra. From ideas we first discussed in the jungles of Borneo, he has developed complex theories of communication. He reveals how animals form their own symphonies, the percussive beat of insects blending with the melodies of birds. Each animal has its own sonic space, but like an orchestra they join together to form a haunting sonata unique to each place on earth.

It has been a pleasure to work with Bernie. From gathering sounds in the field, to the creative process of putting recordings together for environmental albums and exhibits, I have learned from him how to really focus my listening. I am delighted he has written this book to share his insights on nature's harmonies. The music we enjoy today owes a debt to thousands of wild songs. These connections can only be translated for us by a man who is both a musician and scientist, steeped in decades of really listening to everything from the singing of a sand dune to the moans of a mourning beaver. Enjoy this book as a passport to tune your ear and really hear the world in an entirely new way."