nature sounds unlimited

The community and music outreach project “nature sounds unlimited”, organised by isaOutreach as part of isa21, sets out in search of nature’s sounds and their compositional “realisation” in music’s various styles and historical eras.

Central to this project, in which Semmering-Rax region residents of all generations are invited to participate, is exploratory listening—to musical examples played live by isa students and to their possible models in nature.
The primary goal of this exploration and investigation is for participating ears both young and experienced to get inspired and also become more sensitive to just what all there is to hear. A further goal of this project is to raise awareness of our environment and its increasing endangerment—in particular due to climate change.

The findings from these journeys of discovery together will flow into our own “compositions”, which will include sounds we’ve invented ourselves and employ instruments we’ve created ourselves or brought along. A concluding public presentation of these “sounds of nature” is planned for 26 August 2021.

This project includes field trips with Priv.-Doz. Dr.rer.nat. Sabine Hille of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), whose research specialities include bird populations and their endangerment (https://alpine-biodiversity.boku.ac.at/). The plan is to learn to recognise the voices and melodies of different bird species at various times of the day, also recording these as well as other interesting natural sounds we discover on audio media for further use.

For many composers, the sounds of nature have been and continue to be an important source of inspiration. Some of the very famous examples here would be Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Joseph Haydn’s Creation, and the Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. However, many other composers—such as Felix Mendelssohn, Modest Mussorgsky, Edvard Grieg, and Claude Debussy as well as John Cage and Olivier Messiaen, to say nothing of pop musicians—have likewise repeatedly taken nature as a theme in their output. In 1911, Debussy wrote: “(Music) … is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea! … I am for freedom. True freedom comes from nature. Every sound perceived by the acute ear in the rhythm of the world about us can be represented musically.”

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