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Bernie Krause is probably best known for providing soundscape recordings of nature for loads of hollywood films like Apocalypse Now. He has been busy since, recording nature around us. Bernie is a true master and teacher of wild landscapes, philosopher and through his work is able to gauge how habitats are passing us by.

In his TED Talk below he breaks down the 3 main parts of any soundscape.

Geophony – Non biological sounds, wind, water, waves, movement of the earth.
Biophony – Sound generated by organisms in any habitat.
Anthrophony – What humans generate, Music right through to noise of traffic.

The value of measuring these is gauging the whole health of a habitat through soundscape ecology. He started by trying to capture individual elements but this seemed out of context of the whole bigger picture.

The shocking thing is 50% of Bernie’s natural soundscape archive is so radically changed that it can’t be heard anymore. Below is a screenshot from the talk where selective logging took place in a wood, this is where instead of taking down all the trees they take one from here and one from there so you still get the sense of the forest. You can see there is a stream and lots of birds and then after selective logging just a lone woodpecker.

before loggingafter logging

Bernie has been returning there over the past 15 years and it’s still not recovered to how it was in 1988. Yet with the selective logging you can still see what looks like a thick forest. Now Bernie doesn’t know what the animals or organisms are saying but brings up a very sad story about a beaver that everyone can relate too.

His last example is about a beaver where one of his friends was recording a soundscape by a lake that was in part to a beaver dam. The gamekeepers come and blow up the dam and kill the female in the dam. There is a very emotional recording his colleague captured the male crying out for her.

“A picture is worth a thousand words but, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures”