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The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places Paperback – 6 Jun 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (6 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781250014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781250013
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 316,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


In his fascinating book, Krause urges us to open our ears ... his tone is full of wonder (Daily Mail)

One of those books you are grateful to have read (Independent)

Weird and wonderful ... This is an extraordinary and important book. I challenge anyone to read it and not hear for themselves sounds they have never heard - or rather never noticed - before (Spectator)

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. The idea of music originating in the sound communication systems of wild animals is a sound and provocative hypothesis. I admire also his attention to the preservation of ancestral-level cultures for their own value but also as a testing ground for theory on human behavioral evolution. (E. O. Wilson)

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, PhD, DBE, Founder - the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace)

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 and the forthcoming COUNTDOWN)

Krause always reveals wondrous stories of the meaning of music and sounds of our natural environment. Bernie's research into the subtleties of animal and insect sounds is unparalleled, but it is his description of the radical changes that are taking place on this planet that really makes on stop and wonder ... Listen carefully, for the sounds you hear may never be the same again. (Sir George Martin)

A vade mecum of ordered tranquillity -- a gift that came with the harmony of the spheres, allowing even the smallest livings things to sing love songs in many diverse ways while bragging that they are the fittest and will survive above the cacophony of war. A fascinating book of natural history, worthy to be read in the silence your own library, please listen to what it warns about all our futures. (David Bellamy)

Bernie Krause will make you rethink much of what you know about music. A man whose first job was recording the sound of corn growing in a Kansas field, he has spent 40 years listening with professional intent to things the rest of us ever hear. He has studied the way ants sing and whales roar. He can track the sound a virus makes as it moves from one surface to another. Krause is David Attenborough without the pictures and accompanying orchestra. He takes us close to the roots of the music and reminds us to stop and listen, not just lose our bearings in noise.It's such an unusual book -- and, in its quiet way, so important. Remarkable. (Norman Lebrecht)

Bernie Krause, one of the lions of soundscape recording, shares his tales of jaguars, wind, and waterfalls, and how hard it is to capture their sounds. Who knew before that the most emotional animal sound he ever heard was the wail of a beaver after seeing his dam destroyed? Krause has spent decades hunting for those few sonic oases untrammeled by human noise, and at last he brings us his life philosophy. This expansive tale of living amidst wild and beautiful sounds has been well worth waiting for.

(David Rothenberg, ECM recording artist, and author of THOUSAND MILE SONG and SURVIVAL OF THE BEAUTIFUL)

I found this book to be a truly absorbing account of the natural world which will benefit all of us who are concerned about the habitats and survival of the planet's remaining wildlife. This book should and will be an inspiration to us all. I loved it. (Terry Nutkins)

Beautifully written and intriguing. Reading this book makes you feel as though you've just removed plugs from your ears; the symphony of the world moves from background to centre stage. (David Eagleman, author of Sum and Incognito)

An imaginative introduction to a new dimension of the natural world (Kirkus Reviews 2012-01-30)

This memoir of sonic investigation highlights the lessons learned from 40 years of listening to the world's biophonies-the sounds of living organisms. Musician and naturalist Krause uses the language of music to understand everything from birdsong, to ocean waves, to decimated habitats...to answer his questions about the origins of music, especially how the sonic structures inherent in biophany impacted human expression to take the form of music. (Publishers Weekly)

Language is rich with dozens of words for the act of seeing - look, stare, peek, ogle, glimpse, squint, gawk, etc. - but the act of listening is represented by only two: hear and listen. The Great Animal Orchestra, rectifies this shortfall with its rich descriptions of biophony, Krause's immensely useful term for the increasingly threatened sound fields of life on the planet Earth. Readers will enjoy not only Krause's personal story - his fifty-year journey uncovering the world of natural sound textures, their meanings and implications - but will feel as if they have experienced these sounds, ancient and modern, for themselves. The world will not seem the same to you after reading this marvelous book. (Walter Murch, Academy-award winning sound editor for Apocalypse Now and The English Patient)

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

Discover how each species has its own vocal niche in the intricate soundscape of a stable ecosystem. (Temple Grandin, author Animals in Translation)

All this magnificent, if arcane, knowledge has now been brought together by Krause in a masterly tour of the soundscape. Entitled The Great Animal Orchestra, it makes a convincing case for the soundscape's overlooked value, partly for itself, and partly as an indication of the health of the natural world, and for one overwhelming reason for us as humans: in nature's collective voice, he says, can be located the origins of human music, and perhaps even human language (Michael McCarthy Independent)

At the heart of this idiosyncratic volume is Krause's niche hypothesis ... Krause comes across as a likelable oddball, extolling the virtues of homemade clip-on cats ears and the authentic kind of ant music ... the book's coda is a passionate plea to halt human noise pollution (Sunday Telegraph)

A fascinating plea for humanity to turn the volume down and just listen (Herald)

A passionate advocate ... Krause writes with a rush of enthusiasm for the subject (BBC Wildlife)

Alluring ... a fun and informative read that is likely to change the way that any reader listens to soundscapes, both urban and rural (Sunday Times)

Book Description

A fascinating and unique exploration of nature's music, from plants and animals to wind and rain.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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This book has the wow factor. The sounds described simply come alive in your mind as you read through this book, and it makes you hear what is happening around you completely differently. This is a great book to read to yourself, but because of the descriptions it is also a great book to read out loud to children.
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Fascinating book on the aural soundscape that we have all around us, and are sadly now loosing. Krause has recored 15,000 hours of natural sounds in his time, and has cherry picked the best of them. He uses his data to show that even selective logging in a forest can have massive devastation of the wildlife, and just how much difference noise pollution can make
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This is a book with one big virtue but a lot of faults.

The virtue is the central idea. The natural world consists not just of landscapes but of soundscapes, made up both with the sounds of the land and of the animals that inhabit it. These soundscapes are complex, because animals react to each other. They choose different parts of the aural spectrum for instance so that they don't clash, and they fall silent when something loud, often but not always man-made, intrudes. Experts have ignored this complexity, preferring to concentrate on the sound of a particular bird, for instance, and ignoring the context. Human beings are too numerous, too noisy and too insensitive and are systematically destroying these soundscapes.

This is a new and important idea powerfully presented. That in practice there is not a lot that can be done about it does not detract from that fact.

These are the faults.

Bernie Krause has an ear for the natural world but not for language. The writing is cloth-eared. Some of it is incomprehensible and much of it sentimental.

Krause knows a lot about sound, having spent a lifetime recording it. There are other things he doesn't know about but that doesn't stop him holding forth about them. Here are two examples.

He disses the composer Olivier Messaien, who devoted a lifetime to realising birdsong in musical form, because he dealt with birds a species at a time and ignored the aural context. This is ungracious. I dare say that Messaien has attuned more people to the sound of the natural world than has Krause, and he has done so more elegantly and more coherently.

Krause's account of the attitude of the Christian churches to music would have benefited from half an hour with Wikipedia.
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Beautiful book! As I went through the pages I dived into the forest sounds, I could almost hear them. Bernie Krause has created a very important document that will help a lot of people to understand the power of the wild soundscape. As a sound designer and a musician, I felt enlightened after reading such knowledge and sensibility. Excellent piece of work! Congrats!
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