“Wounds” is Spelled Almost Like “Sounds”

Posted on Posted in Soundscapes

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

— Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac —

You don’t have to be an ecologist in the scientific sense. I have always thought of my life in music as essentially the exploration of sonic ecologies — both in the natural-sounds sense of Bernie Krause’s work, and in the ethnomusicological perspective exemplified by Alan Lomax’s Cantometrics project, which showed the full sonorous diversity of the world’s music.

These awarenesses have informed my performance, practice, and composition — and they inform my sorrow at the unraveling of nature’s tapestry.

As an ethnomusicologist I try to at least make the effort of understanding every form of human music — even those kinds which I don’t particularly like — as a manifestation of our species’ deep inner drive for expression in sound. And the gradual transformation of our planetary diversity to equally-tempered, auto-tuned, drum-machined musical monocropping is profoundly saddening to me.

We need the robust and resilient music which springs from our diverse experiences on the planet if we are to survive.

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