Rainforest Music

Rainforest MusicCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.musicAmong the Bosavi people of Papua, New Guinea, a remarkable relationship has developed between their life in the rainforest environment, and their understanding of sound. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Ambience, rainforest Feld:”I think, in the west, there’s a myth that the rainforests are quiet, peaceful environments. That’s not true at all. They’re very loud. They’re very intense.”Steve Feld is director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas in Austin. Feld: “As a musician, and someone who’s worked with sound for a long time, I consider myself sensitive to sound. But I was not prepared for anything like this. And when I started recording birds in the forest, people would always laugh hysterically when they would see me point the parabolic microphone high up in order to record a bird they knew was deep in the forest. And they would just grab my hand and move it to a point, and then, all of a sudden, through the headphones I would hear, precisely, that bird. So they understand depth by sound in a way that took me months to really begin to approach. But, more importantly, what I found in Bosavi was a coevolution of ecology and aesthetics. Ecological awareness is not just there for purposes of adaptation. It’s also there for purposes of pleasure and play. People are singing with birds, finding a nice waterfall to sing with. The sounds of the environment are not only the sources of musical inspiration, but they’re the music itself.” This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Rainforest Music

Singing with birds and waterfalls. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration. Steven Feld is currently Senior Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Air Date:06/12/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Rainforest MusicCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.musicAmong the Bosavi people of Papua, New Guinea, a remarkable relationship has developed between their life in the rainforest environment, and their understanding of sound. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Ambience, rainforest Feld:"I think, in the west, there's a myth that the rainforests are quiet, peaceful environments. That's not true at all. They're very loud. They're very intense."Steve Feld is director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas in Austin. Feld: "As a musician, and someone who's worked with sound for a long time, I consider myself sensitive to sound. But I was not prepared for anything like this. And when I started recording birds in the forest, people would always laugh hysterically when they would see me point the parabolic microphone high up in order to record a bird they knew was deep in the forest. And they would just grab my hand and move it to a point, and then, all of a sudden, through the headphones I would hear, precisely, that bird. So they understand depth by sound in a way that took me months to really begin to approach. But, more importantly, what I found in Bosavi was a coevolution of ecology and aesthetics. Ecological awareness is not just there for purposes of adaptation. It's also there for purposes of pleasure and play. People are singing with birds, finding a nice waterfall to sing with. The sounds of the environment are not only the sources of musical inspiration, but they're the music itself." This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.