Bernie Krause knows sound. While he has been in the soundscape ecology field for the last 50 years, the trained musician previously contributed to albums for Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno and David Byrne, George Harrison and the Doors. He was even instrumental in bringing the synthesizer to pop music in the 1960s.
So when Krause came to bioacoustics in the late 1960s – he counts Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer as an inspiration – he took a different approach than others. Rather than recording the sounds of birds, insects and amphibians individually, he records the “whole symphony of sounds.” “I was one of the few people who established the idea of recording an entire natural soundscape – a whole habitat – because there’s more information there,” Krause says. The information he records is vital in conservation and scientific study; in communicating how habitats are changing. “More than 50 percent of my archive comes from habitats that no longer exist,” he says.