Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes by Bernie Krause

An engaging introduction to the science of soundscape ecology, from a pioneer of the field.

voices of the wild

With Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes, Bernie Krause shares his delight in the sounds of the natural world and makes an impassioned case for the importance of such acoustics.

Krause is a soundscape ecologist who’s been recording the noises of natural settings for nearly 50 years. As a pioneer in his field, he’s acquired his knowledge the hard way, beginning with the technological challenges of recording with equipment designed for indoor use, and has seen changes as the field has grown. For example, the scientific establishment’s emphasis on single-species recording is giving way to Krause’s preference for capturing an entire biome.

Voices of the Wild is designed to educate laypeople on the existence and significance of soundscapes, and how to undertake amateur recordings. Krause introduces the terms “geophony” (non-biological sounds, as of wind and water), “biophony” (non-human biological sounds, like bird- and whalesong) and “anthropophony” (human-created sounds, from speech to traffic). He makes predictions about the future of soundscape ecology, including technologies that will change the field and its impact on various disciplines, from architecture (interior soundscapes have implications on education and psychology) to biology (in which soundscapes inform our understanding of biodiversity), and many more. The field has enormous scientific and cultural relevance, for example in comparing the therapeutic value of biophonies to that of music: the former “may be more beneficial, perhaps because they are culture neutral.” Accompanied by recordings available online, Voices of the Wild offers a mildly academic but fascinating look at a little-known but potentially influential field.

This review originally ran in the September 4, 2015 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 6 orcas.

2 Responses

  1. Sounds interesting! I didn’t even know this type of thing existed. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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