Field Recording and Eco-Acoustic Composition
A colloquium + concert with Bernie Krause and David Monacchi

Friday October 26th 3pm
1750 Arch Street, Berkeley, CA

Concert at 8 pm
Music by David Monacchi
Biophonies by Bernie Krause

“Soundscapes: new perspectives on the original source of music and culture”
Naturalist and bio-acustician Bernie Krause will explain reasons and principles at the base of forty years of field recordings of the world natural soundscape.

“Fragments of Extinction – portraits of acoustic bio-diversity from equatorial primary rainforest”
Sound artist and composer David Monacchi will introduce his field recording and compositional work.

Concert program:

1. Echoes of a Sonic Habitat (D.M. - 2004) 11.24
For re-contextualized natural soundscapes - 8ch audio

2. Interlude - Biophony V (B.K.) 5.00

3. States of Water (D.M. - 2006) 16.56
For processed field recordings – 8ch audio

4. Interlude - Biophony VI (B.K.) 5.00

5. Nightingale-Study I (D.M. - 1999) 11.35
For processed field recordings, live medieval traverse flute,
and real time video

Echoes of a Sonic Habitat (2004)
for re-contextualized natural soundscapes of insects on 8 channels
duration: 12’

Echoes of a Sonic Habitat was originally meant to be a virtually composed soundscape, made by discrete natural sounds extracted from their environments. In the course of performances the original composition was reshaped through a series of re-contextualization processes.
Insects and natural sonic environments were recorded in the Montefeltro area (Italy) in 2003, then composed for an installation with 26 audio channels in the reverberant spaces of the Wasserspeicher cisterns in Berlin (Germany) in 2004. The sonic event of the installation has been recorded onto 8 tracks and then readapted for tonight’s CNMAT event.
The piece is partly configured by the initial compositional principles, but mostly shaped by the acoustic responses of three different contexts in succession (the cisterns had an extremely irregular reverberation of about 20 seconds at the low-end frequencies, and almost dry at the highest ones). The uniqueness of this work lies in the stratification of spaces and media superimposed on a natural soundscape.


States of Water (2006)
for processed field recordings on 8channels
reduction from the multi-channel installation conceived for the project Tevereterno
duration: 16’

States of Water is inspired by the multiple physical transformations that water is constantly subjected to. Motion, stagnation, evaporation, condensation, and falling are the states explored by the field recording. Water produces an infinite variety of sounds throughout the entire range of audible frequencies, sometimes creating the perfect white noise, i.e., the equal overlapping of all audio frequencies. The sound of water also moves through rapid transformations of intensity and spectral envelopes. Sometimes, albeit rarely, water creates tones.
Observing and carefully analyzing this microcosm of pitched sounds has inspired me to organize the concrete sound of water into a tuning system that uses the whole ratios of Zarlino’s system (XVI sec.). Multiple resonating filters combined into different harmonic series for the purpose of ordering chaotic frequencies along natural intervals.
The field research stage involved many recording techniques, including special microphones and movements along sound sources: springs, streams, waterfalls, caves, waves as well as the sea. In order to record the sound of fluid within the human body, I have also experimented with the recording of a sound scan of a six-month-old foetus.
In this work, I pay tribute to water as a symbol and a metaphor for the various states of mind and emotion.

The original composition of 30 minutes, a multi-channel sound installation with 18 points of sound diffusion on a 80x500 meters site, was created for “Tevereterno,” a site-specific project by Kristin Jones, celebrating the Tiber River in Rome for the summer solstice 2006.


Nightingale-Study I (1999)
For medieval traverse flute, processed natural soundscapes and real time video
duration: 12’

Nightingale-study I began as a journey to research a bird whose melodic virtues have been celebrated since ancient times. On analyzing many hours of field recordings, conducted during several nights in May in the Urbino countryside (central Italy), I noticed how the nightingale, unlike most birds, doesn’t articulate its singing through standard patterns codified within a simple language. Rather, it sings by evolving improvisations of stunning musical variety and richness.
From a compositional point of view, the unaltered recordings of three different nightingales evolve through a progressive stretching that brings the singing on a human recognizable articulation of time and frequency. Through this, the melodic patterns and time structures become visible, while the sound of the flute, sampled and speeded up, tends to a non-human order of time and frequency. All the sound materials (except the drones, the initial traffic, and the flute) are crafted by the nightingale stretchings.
The live improvisation on the medieval traverse flute searches progressively for an interaction with a sound aesthetic of another species, creating a melodic intersection between the background (static) drones and the foreground (dynamic) nightingale’s modules.
This work started out as a contemplative reflection on the dynamic interactions between nature and human beings. However, during the recordings of the nightingales in the quiet countryside at night, the microphones picked up a series of (nearly imperceptible) low frequencies, which in the studio became surprisingly clear. Initially, I planned on editing out those sounds, thinking of them as undesirable noise. Instead, they became the emotional knot of the entire composition. Only later were they discovered to be several military airplane convoys flying high in the sky, possibly heading towards Kosovo. It was May 25th 1998…


David Monacchi

Performer - Sound artist - Eco-acoustic composer

Monacchi is Professor of Electronic Music at the Conservatory of Music of Foggia, and Acting Chair at the University of Macerata and the Conservatory of Pesaro (Italy). Currently, he is on a visiting assignment as a Fulbright Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research focus is recording natural sonic environments throughout the world with cutting-edge field recording techniques to create music for sound installations, museums, and experimental and new music concerts. For nearly two decades, he has recorded in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America, and used the recordings as material for detailed lab analyses and eco-acoustic composition.

He traveled to the Brazilian Amazon in 2001 in collaboration with Greenpeace, in order to collect high definition sound portraits from an area of primary equatorial rainforest. With 30 hours of extraordinary sound recordings, he composed the eco-acoustic opera entitled “Fragments of a Sonic World in Extinction,” which he performed in theatres and contemporary music venues in Europe and the United States. He has performed his music in 180 concerts and installations since 1989, in places like Kryptonale (Berlin, Germany), Teatro Groggia (Venice, Italy), Nuova Consonanza, Tevereterno and Notte Bianca (Rome, Italy), La Via Lattea (Lugano, Switzerland), Community Art Council (Vancouver, Canada), Nuit Blanche (Paris, France), Ear to the Earth (New York, U.S.), Dangerous Curve (Los Angeles, U.S.), CNMAT (Berkeley, U.S.) and other international venues. Several international radio stations have broadcast his music. In 2005, his research project “Un Teatro Bio-Acustico” on the Foreste Casentinesi National Park became part of the Italian ‘world heritage’ proposition to the UNESCO. Since 2005, he has been the musical consultant for the project Tevereterno, Kristin Jones’ large-scale site-specific project on the Tiber River in Rome, and he is the co-founder of Bella Gerit, a project aimed at conducting first-ever recordings of the Renaissance music of Urbino.
As a recording engineer, he directs Coclearia – a mobile recording studio, which has worked on (50+) productions of Early, Classic, and Contemporary music; in addition, he has collaborated with the Italian National RAI Radio3 for recordings and consultancies. As a flautist, he has performed widely in ancient, traditional, and new music contexts. His music has been published by Ants Records, Bella Gerit and Domani Musica.

His honors include the Erato Farnesina Fellowship from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the World Soundscape Project (Vancouver), the Fulbright Research Scholarship to work at the CNMAT- University of California, Berkeley, and prizes from the Russolo-Pratella Competition (Italy), Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland), Multiple Sound Festival (Holland). His music was also selected by the jury of the Bourges International Grand Prix of Electro-acoustic Music.


Bernie Krause

Since 1968, Dr. Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Birute Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony (a/k/a The Niche Hypothesis) based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape within a given habitat. Through his company, Wild Sanctuary, he has recorded over 40 natural soundscape CDs, and creates interactive environmental sound sculptures for museums, zoos and aquaria throughout the world. Utilizing proprietary delivery technology, examples of his sound sculptures can be seen at the American Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the California Academy of Sciences, the Flint River Center in Albany, Georgia, and many other venues. During his life as a professional studio musician, he and his late music partner, Paul Beaver, introduced the synthesizer to pop music and film. Their work can be heard on over 250 albums and 135 feature films between 1967 and 1980.

Through his company, Wild Sanctuary, he has been a consultant for the past 28 years to the National Park Service related to noise and natural soundscape issues. Recent pilot studies for the NPS to Sequoia and Katmai led by Krause linked his thesis of biophony to habitat health, territorial definition, creature density and dynamics. Krause’s latest book, Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of Natural Soundscapes (Wilderness Press, 2002).