THE WILDERNESS ANTHOLOGY:
A Preservation of Sonic Landscapes
ii. jungle disco
The Wilderness Anthology:
A Preservation of Sonic Landscapes for String Quartet and Pre-recorded Audio
The Wilderness Anthology (2014-16) is a music composition for string quartet and pre-recorded audio soundscapes from the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest and Book Cliffs in the Utah and Colorado. The work employs audio from these environmentally imperiled disappearing soundscapes (sum total of audio in a given environment) with live string quartet drawing relationships between sounds found in the natural world and those in the concert hall.
Though almost entirely overlooked in the field of sustainability, soundscapes are a critical component of an ecosystem, a potential indicator of biodiversity, a valuable tool in predator and prey dynamics, and a clear signal in a frequently visually cluttered or camouflaged landscape. The Book Cliffs and portions of the Amazon where these recordings were gathered are virtually uninhabited but under continual pressure for resource extraction. Through a combination of habitat loss, species decline, ecological destruction, and resource extraction, soundscapes are becoming less apparent and acoustically diverse. Human generated noise masks sound from biological and geographic sources, while technology increasingly insulates humans inside of an artificial sound environment. This lack of attention and awareness coupled with noise pollution and environmental degradation is permanently altering soundscapes and ecosystems. The Wilderness Anthology focuses listener’s attention on this issue.
The Wilderness Anthology employs the transcription of bird calls, imitation of a soundscape by the performers, and evokes the visual and the romanticized ideal of humans in nature. Evocation is achieved through suspended harmonic rhythm, heightened activity, and string harmonics simulating tinnitus which is apparent in quiet places.
The Wilderness Anthology has seven movements: Reverence: Dusk, Jungle Disco, Ecstatic, Static, Machinal, Nightscape, and Reverence: Dawn. It was premiered on April 3rd, 2016 by Grace Kim, Lijia Phang, Kristina Willey, and Richard Narroway.
It is ideally performed in a concert hall with a high fidelity audio system for audio playback. The work can be performed with or without projected images. The audio was recorded on location in 2013-14 with a SoundDevices 702 recorder and a pair of DPA 4006 stereo microphones. The audio is packaged in a MaxMSP patch and triggered by a Logidy midi-pedal.