How Man Changes The Soundscape Of Nature

Alastair Leithead profiles the fascinating work of Bernie Krause for BBC News:

A landscape may look healthy, but how does it sound, and what does that say about how its wildlife is doing?

It’s a question Bernie Krause has spent much of his life trying to answer. To do so, he’s recorded the sounds of thousands of places in far-flung corners of the world.

Dr. Bernie Krause: The Great Animal Orchestra from California Academy of Sciences and California Academy of Sciences on

He coined the word “biophany” to describe these recordings. These soundscapes have helped him show what happens to animals in stressful environments, and explain where our language comes from…

In his book The Great Animal Orchestra, Krause uses the evidence of ‘biophany’ degradation to demonstrate how even healthy-looking ecosystems can sound damaged.

Krause argues that in a pristine place, animals, insects, birds and reptiles have each found a niche – their own frequency in which they can communicate to each other and be heard above everything else.

“It’s taken quite a while for all those critters to figure out where their voices should be,” he says.

By creating a spectrogram – a graph of the soundscape created by plotting time against frequency – he’s able to see the patterns that natural sound forms…

[continues at BBC News]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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2 Comments on "How Man Changes The Soundscape Of Nature"

  1. Anarchy Pony | Jun 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    All I know is that I can’t go outside without hearing an internal combustion engine somewhere in the distance.

  2. Killingjoke36 | Jun 3, 2012 at 2:30 am |

    Nice piece, but what was in the video had fuck all to do with the piece’s tile. Disinfo….you’re slipping.

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