Life on Earth

Wild Soundcapes

How to hear the natural world

What a rare gem: a how-to book that changed my mind. Or at least my hearing. Audio recordist Bernie Krause has captured the sounds of ants eating, of sand dunes shifting, of frogs croaking in duets with airplanes, and the winds sweeping over prairie grass. This subtle yet omnipresent universe of natural sound was something I had mostly ignored. Krause’s practical guide is a fantastic re-education. Using a tiny digital recorder (see review of the Olympus Digital Voice Recorder) as my new ears, under his guidance nature is reborn into ever-changing radio-stations of novel sounds. His how-to advice is among the best how-to I’ve read; smart, specific, just the right level of detail and backed by 30 years of doing it. Since sounds often trigger more memories than snapshots, recording soundspaces should be as easy and satisfying as photography, and with Krauses’ advice it is. His book is dense with sonic adventures in the wild, and a 55-minute trophy CD. It’s the ultimate guide: every page compels you to get up and do it. See with your ears!

Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World
Bernie Krause
2002, 168 pages, with CD
$25 (used)


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