Ecologies

I really enjoy the sounds and expressions of birds and the spontaneous drama they bring individually, but especially in groups of multiple species. Their varieties of tone, register, resonance, “melodic” range, rhythm, and phrasing are direct and captivating. Their expressions of calm, urgency, invitation, intimidation, and spatial claim are just some examples of the expressiveness and group dynamics that are there for the listening.  Listening musically their interactions are individually virtuosic and collectively great ensemble playing. And of course, it's also real life.

 

The pieces below are attempts to explore natural individual expression and the dynamics of collective drama. The motivation is not to simulate ornithologically accurate interactions. Admittedly, I have neither the training or species knowledge to attempt that. Rather, the motivations are 1) as a listener to create a drama that sounds reasonably natural and 2) as a composer to explore musical models formed from characters defined by behavior. These characters can “play” themselves and interact with other characters. They can also interact with listeners in expressive or simply spatial contexts. While such "behavior" composition might seem handy for creating bird soundscapes, my hope is that it also offers an interesting model for creating musics sounded with instruments and other sonic palettes.

 

Why call it “Ecologies”?

 

Since musical events here are the result of behavior interactions rather than musical development, this word - “ecology” - seems a more apt labelling for this approach than “music” or “soundscape”. But, admittedly, “ecology” is fraught with ambiguity and might confuse rather than clarify.  Still working on this.  Suggestions are most welcome.

Tropical Rainforest 1

Birds, insects, and siamangs (gibbons) for this biome were recorded in the forest near the active volcano, Gunung Sibayak, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Tropical Rainforest 2

Birds, insects, and siamangs (gibbons) for this biome were recorded in the forest near the active volcano, Gunung Sibayak, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Temperate Forest 1

Birds for this biome were recorded in northern Illinois, USA.

Temperate Forest 2

Birds for this biome were recorded in northern Illinois, USA.

South Pacific Island

Birds for this biome were recorded on Taveuni Island, Fiji Islands.

 Polar Region

Birds for this biome were recorded kayaking near the Antarctica Peninsula.

The examples above are created from individual bird calls that I recorded in different places and biomes. They are used here in binaural captures of real-time Unity sessions. This approach allows capture in Ambisonic 1st Order and conversion to other spatial formats, as well as use in real-time performance and installation settings.

Bill Parod

2021