Summer 2005

ARTS 642
Music, Nature, and Silence

Pestel,Michael

06/27/2005 - 08/10/2005
Tuesday & Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Music Studios 301

This course explores music and sound found in nature (bioacoustics), inspired by nature (scored and improvised works), and performed with nature (direct, live interaction). We will listen both to the sound signatures of specific eco-niches and to the individual sounds of birds, insects, mammals, cetaceans, fish, plants, air, and water. We will juxtapose this catalogue of sounds in nature with the variety of ways in which human composers, sound artists, and small-scale cultures have intercepted their acoustic environment and processed it through particular cultural filters, compositional strategies, musical instruments, and technical effects.

Our investigation will include compositions and sound works by Olivier Messiaen, Pauline Oliveros, George Crumb, Christina Kubisch, John Cage, Maggi Payne, Paul Panhuysen, Murray Schafer, Mamoru Fujieda, Hildegard Westerkamp, Stephen Vitiello, and Douglas Quin, among others. In this context, we will also consider the music of various non-western cultures such as the BaBenzele Pygmies, the Bosavi, the Amazonian Yanomami, and the Tuvans, to name a few.

The primary text, The Book of Music and Nature (plus CD), edited by David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus, provides a broad range of topics for discussion and listening, and will be supplemented by a range of other books and printed and recorded materials.

Required texts include David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus, eds., The Book of Music and Nature; R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape; John Cage, Silence; Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, The Diversity of Animal Sounds (Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology); and a collection of essays.

Students will be responsible for class participation, two short projects/papers, a final research paper in combination with one of the following options: collected prerecorded sounds, field recording, creative sound work, or a sound journal.

Neither specialized background in music nor any particular technical knowledge is required. Basic recording techniques will be introduced. There will be field trips for listening/recording purposes as well as a number of demonstration/workshops. It is recommended that students have some means to record sounds.

To be read before the first class meeting: David Abram, THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS (Vintage), Paperback


Michael Pestel (BA Hartwick College; MFA Otis Art Institute) is an installation artist who has given more than 17 solo and 53 group exhibitions of sculpture, soundscape, and sitework over the past 18 years. His work and biography are viewable on his website.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, THE DIVERSITY OF ANIMAL SOUNDS (Macauley Library of Natural Sounds), CD

David Abram, THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS (Vintage), Paperback (Please have this text read for the first class meeting. Students may opt out of reading chapter 2)

David Dunn, WHY DO WHALES AND CHILDREN SING? (Earth Ear), Paperback

Bernard Krause, WILD SOUNDSCAPES: DISCOVERING THE VOICE OF THE NATURAL WORLD (Wilderness Press), Paperback

David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus, THE BOOK OF MUSIC AND NATURE (Wesleyan University Press), Paperback

David Rothenberg, WHY BIRDS SING (Basic Books), Paperback

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

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