16

Tomás Saraceno et al. "created a musical system for translating the spiders’ vibrations into acoustic rhythms: amplifying the spiders’ biotremological signals and web pluckings, and making these substrate-borne vibrations audible to humans" while Robin Meier & Ali Momeni explored "reciprocal musical interactions between the mosquito and the computer" which "come in and out of harmony depending on the mosquitoes propensity to maintain its sync with the stimulus signal".

Do you know any other artists who have manipulated animal sounds for artistic purpose?

2
  • Probably this thread should be changed into a Wiki which would lists and organizes all the great examples you gave, because the current thread does not follow the proper SE question/answer style (it looks like a list and there can't be a "correct" answer; or my question should have been more specific!!).
    – Noil
    Jul 29 at 19:52
  • Please note that many of the answers are NOT about manipulating animal sound, but simply using audio recordings as-is. I think the question is particularly interesting because it asks about examples using manipulation. Aug 10 at 9:27

12 Answers 12

10

If you are happy to expand your question a little, what about plants and fungi?


I recently heard about the artist Cheryl Beer, who works with recordings of plant vascular systems and incorporates them into music and film in a project called "Song of the Trees; rainforest symphony". It might be a bit far from your original interest, as I think Beer converts the rhythms to piano, rather than using the original recordings. But I still think it is an interesting example of using sound to raise awareness for conservation. It's also very interesting to hear how Beer interprets her recordings, given she is hearing impaired.

There is an introductory video here: https://www.cherylbeer.com/english.html with a couple of minutes spoken introduction to the project, and then some of the music.

And a UK BBC radio program that includes an interview with Cheryl Beer talking about the project: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00193tw


And Tarun Nayar creates music using sounds from fungi. Personal website: https://linktr.ee/modernbiology, and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TarunTspoon

Some excellent sounds coming from fungi!

10
  • Leah Barclay has created various sound art involving nature sounds (see e.g. Shazam rainforest)
  • David Rothenberg has composed and performed many works using manipulated animal sound as well as live interaction with musical instruments.
  • Kathy Hinde has created a lot of artistic works based on nature, including many sound art pieces and pieces involving birdsong. For example tthis piece piano migrations.
  • I worked with composer/roboticist Sarah Angliss on this piece, Birds Heard Through Bells, based on analysis-synthesis of dawn chorus.
  • Dan St Clair made a piece "Call Notes" which used source-filter analysis to recreate pop-song melodies morphed with the timbre of birdsong.

And someone will always remind you that the 20th-century composer Olivier Messiaen made use of tape recordings of birdsong (as well as direct manual transcriptions) in creating his compositions! This last example might not fit your question since the artistic output is in the form of a score rather than audio.

9

I don't know of any artists specifically, but if you are searching The World Forum for Acoustics Ecology (https://www.wfae.net/) has a mailing list that often shares information on acoustic art, including sound walks, art exhibitions that focus on sound in art, and the occasional advert for different albums and events where natural sounds are used in artistic ways. I'm sure you'll find a lot of different interpretations of sounds in art through this mailing list.

6

For an essay about the use of animal sound recordings in popular music see:

Brumm H (2012) Biomusic and popular culture: The use of animal sounds in the music of the Beatles. Journal of Popular Music Studies 24: 25–38

[full text] https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-1598.2012.01314.x

6

I personally know some people from "projecto 432Hz", which involves artists of the conservatorium of Ponta Delgada, Azores, and people from a whale watching company. They work together to collect recordings of cetaceans, but also of other marine sounds. The artists will transform all the sound into an interactive artistic performance. The project is quite new and will be completed probably around January 2023, but I believe it will give a really great result.

I leave you the link to the project's site: https://project432hz.webnode.pt/?fbclid=IwAR2XRRKSyNiPhDomnMqs--9uFEWFG9_lP36TJZPfzhdv7INP8tdZzVwS4XA

And the link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/projeto432hz

6

Jez riley French is a sound artist and manufacturer of contact microphones, hydrophones and other stuff. He also made many recordings of animals or plants with his own sensors or microphones. I especially remember recordings involving ants.

Marcus Maeder captured some nice recordings of soil organisms. You can find a good article about it in the Soundscape Journal ("Sounding Soil: An Acoustic, Ecological & Artistic Investigation of Soil Life").

Jana Winderen must also be mentioned, for her wonderful hydrophone recordings.

5

Check out the work of David de la Haye - a sound recordist, musician and person keen on raising awareness about biodiversity... met him in a workshop once and seems keen for science collaborations.

5

Julie Semoroz, a sound artist from Geneva had some vocal interactions with humpback whales and orcas in northern Norway: https://youtu.be/KWZFDMFLUfA https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.05.27.493738v1

5

Thanks, Chloe, for the mention above (i can't comment directly, yet...!).

Underwater soundscapes, especially in freshwater habitats, are my main interest. I use raw, mostly unprocessed, audio rather than sonification of data or manipulation of animal sounds, which seems the focus of the initial question. But certainly #art-science #SciArt based.

A recent album investigates interspecies dialogue with aquatic dwellers invertebrates, molluscs, plants - the usual ;) Check it out here: https://daviddelahaye.bandcamp.com/album/with-ears-underwater

1
  • oh hello! Glad to see you on this forum
    – Chloe
    Aug 3 at 12:12
4

A little different, but AquaSonic plays music underwater.

And of course, there's our very own Adam Ü's band Bonin Petrals that occasionally includes both marine biologists playing instruments and marine mammals themselves! (I gave him a sperm whale click series once to use as a drum beat).

1

Another resource: check out OPUS (Open Portal to Underwater Soundscapes), as they openly encourage the use of these sounds for biological and artistic purposes alike. (There is no list of data extractors or an output section on their website, and OPUS itself is quite new - I imagine in the future it will be used for artistic purposes, so watch this space).

1

Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words (eds: Frederick Bianchi, V.J. Manzo, OUP, 2016) is an excellent, accessible compendium of essays by established sound artists on their respective practices, with particular emphasis on aspects of sonification and acoustic ecology. Well worth checking out.

If the price for the hardcover seems a tad prohibative, softcover and e-book versions can be found with a bit of light Googling. I'm just loathe to link to anything associated with Amazon.

2
  • 1
    Judging by the table of contents, looks great! And likely to have lots of material for the original question. Thanks for the reference. Aug 10 at 7:49
  • Excellent, glad it might prove useful! Aug 10 at 22:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.