Curious Nature: If you listen closely, you can discover the music in nature (column with video)
“Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.” — Mary Webb
Imagine a world in which you wake up in the morning to no birds singing, stand next to an aspen and hear no wind through the trembling leaves or sit on a patio at night and hear nothing but silence.
Sounds that encase us in nature can oftentimes be taken for granted. We hear them every single day, but when we step back and look at these sounds on an individual level and then together, we can see the beauty and hear the music that they create. Music and sounds in nature have inspired so many people to write and create artistic works that help people to interact with their environment. And this blossoming movement of wanting to reconnect and engage with nature through sounds and music has led to some very interesting creations.
Most of us know how it feels to navigate through an airport. The long security lines, confusing terminals and constant delays are things all visitors face when they enter an airport. Through a collaborative effort, Steven Waldeck was able to bring nature to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with an art display that transports visitors from an airport to a Georgia forest. The art display is 450 feet long, between concourses A and B, and is the largest public art display in Atlanta’s history.
While the cutouts of leaves, lighting and visual aids help you escape from the hustle and bustle of the airport, what really makes this art display stand out is the music from nature. If you sit down in the middle of the concourse and close your eyes, you could convince yourself you were in a forest. With rain pattering after thunder to the birdsong and calls, these sounds help any traveler dissolve into a new setting and connect with nature, even if it’s just for a few moments.
“DJ Ecotone,” or Ben Mirin, is a “Wildlife DJ.” Mirin takes sounds from nature, such as a bird song, a lemur making noises or a frog call, and creates a beat with the recordings that he can beatbox to. In a quote from Mirin to Forbes magazine, he explains, “I create music from animal sounds to inspire conservation and introduce new audiences to the natural world.”
Mirin’s work has led him to places all over the world, collecting and recording sounds from nature and using them to collaborate with local artists in other countries and to do presentations about conserving the country’s natural environment. He even has a show now, on National Geographic Kids, where he teaches children about animals and the noises they make that can be turned into music.
He started recording animals when he felt “out of touch” with nature and animals when he moved to New York to immerse himself in the beatboxing scene. These two passions of Mirin’s have inspired a new generation of music from nature that will hopefully inspire people everywhere to conserve our world.
These creations and other concepts like them are helping to engage millions of people all around the world with nature and, hopefully, inspiring them to connect further.
But of course, don’t forget about the free and always available music from nature right outside your back door. We are fortunate to live in a place where we can take a walk in the woods or sit next to a river anytime we choose. So the next time you find yourself outdoors, close your eyes, take in every sound and note you hear and enjoy nature’s symphony.
Breanna Sayers is a naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center who originates from Wichita, Kansas. She is an amateur ukulele player and just learned how to whistle.