Ecoacoustics

Musical Ecoacoustics embeds environmental systems into musical and performance structures using new technologies. Ecoacoustic music derives methodology from abstracted environmental processes, remapping data from the ecological into musical domain.It draws on techniques of sonification and soundscape composition (Truax, Westerkamp, Keller and others), and also may employ live performance with natural materials (human-nature interaction). The data from nature may be audio information (from wind or ocean waves for example), or it may be some measurable parameter such as temperature, geological change, etc. Going beyond direct sonification, the composer may develop a syntax based on these natural processes, and create new patterns extended from these models.

My interest in ecoacoustics arises from my experiences growing in the Arctic of Alaska, on the fishing boats on Alaska’s Southwest coast, and in the mountains above Anchorage. I was impressed by the powerful elements of Alaska and sought to bring that energy into music. My musical studies coincided with a time of rapid climate change in the north, driven by global warming and this environmental change found its way into my music. Snow, ice, wind and sea figure prominently in my work. I developed ecoacoustic techniques in compositions such as Mists (1995) for stones and noise, and Sikuigvik (the time of ice melting) (1997) for piano and large ensemble in which the process of ice melting is used as a musical form. Many of the techniques came to fruition in the first of my large-scale environmental opera/theater pieces, Ukiuq Tulugaq  (Winter Raven) (1999-2002), in which systems of snow, wind, light and climate generate musical form and material.

The Alaskan Opera/Theater Triptych: Winter Raven, Kuik and Auksalaq 

For a list of ecoacoustic compositions click here

publications:

The Syntax of Snow: Musical Ecoacoustics of a Changing Arctic. in “North by 2020: Perspectives on a Changing North.” edited by  Maya Salganek and Hajo Eicken, University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, 2011

EcoSono: Interactive Ecoacoustics in the World. Organized Sound, vol. 16-3, Cambridge University Press, UK, pp234-244

Ecoacoustic and Shamanic Technologies for Multimedia Composition and Performance. Organized Sound, vol. 10-1. Cambridge University Press, UK, pp3-21, 2005.

Auksalaq, a Telematic Opera. co-written with Scott Deal. Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Huddersfield, UK.

The Shamanic Object as a Model for New Multimedia Computer Performance Interfaces. International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) Proceedings. Miami, Florida, 2004.

Recombinant Spatialization for Ecoacoustic Immersive Environments. Coauthored with David Topper. Linux Audio Developers Conference (LAD 2) Proceedings. Karlsruhe, Germany, 2004.